My cousin left me a comment here a while back recommending the first of these books - it's actually the first of seven intended books to make up the wonderfully-named Gentleman Bastard sequence (Red Seas is naturally enough the second volume). It's rare that one of this cousin's recommendations doesn't go down well with me, so next time I was in a bookshop I picked it up.
And then I had trouble putting it down again :)
The Gentleman Bastards of the name are a small gang of con-men, anti-heros who just aren't as bad as they want to be. Their tale is a rollicking one of honour and dishonour among theives, cross, double-cross, triple-cross and so on... It's a great ride, fast and furious but made more immediate by some really excellent characters and characterisation; when there's death in the ranks we've come to care enough to be moved.
Volume two is, if anything, even better. The characters are given room to breathe a bit more, and some fab new ones are introduced.
The books are tricky to pigeon-hole. You'll find them in the SF/fantasy section of the bookshop, and there's elements of both in there, but not in an obtrusive way. It's not like Iain M Banks or someone where you're always aware that it's a genre novel you're reading. Swashbucklers, heist stories with elaborate schemes that would make Danny Ocean weep, romance (in any sense of the word you care to think of), social commentary... Deep and broad is the order here.
When I visited the author's website and discovered that there'll be seven of these, I did a little dance inside.
Easily the best new series I've come across in a long, long while.