Cat Sebastian is on the blog today with the first in a new series (!!!), Regency Imposters. A bit of a twist from her more familiar M/M Historic romances, this story deals with identification and attraction in ways new to many. Please read on for my review of
Unmasked by the Marquess
Alistair, Marquess of Pembroke is so rigid he’d shatter into pieces were he bent in half. Obsessed with propriety and the mantle of power the title he holds brings, he’s steadily working to regain and rebuild the reputation of his title so ill-used by his father. This has required a near laser focus, years of scrimping and careful management have turned the account books from red to black. But the opportunity for disgracing the title are everywhere: a younger brother who seems aimless and content to continue, and his father’s ‘second family’ – three girls and his former mistress, left in reasonable comfort before his death. The old man’s death, however, did more than leave debts and headaches: his behavior being so scandalous has left Alistair a rigid, propriety first man –icy cold, unemotional and wholly intimidating.
That is, until one Robert Selby approaches and begs a favor for his sister, Alistair’s father’s god-daughter Louisa. While not in the habit of providing ‘favors’ for family or unknowns, Alistair’s curious attraction to Selby, combined with his belief that doing this one favor will serve multiple purposes and serve as a ‘warning’ for those who may ask in the future. But while Alistair is attracted to (and without guilt or self-conscious berating) the young man, having no particular shame in his own bisexuality, there’s something different about Selby – and the man that he is when with him.
Robert Selby is, in fact, Charity Church – a foundling brought into the Selby home to help raise Louisa after her mother’s death. Good friends with the Selby children, she and Robbie were close and his enjoyment in her seeing further afield than the family lands led to a series of deceptions and twists not common in historical romance. See, Charity donned men’s clothing and took Robbie’s place at Oxford: first as a convenience, then as she discovered the freedoms of men, the comfort and her own behavior adopted the role as a man, and life was proceeding apace, until Louisa’s 18th year. She’s in London as Selby to make Louisa a solid match, and then will decide on his/her next move. Of course, she never expected to find someone like Alistair, and the attraction that she has is a never-ending worry. Slowly a friendship develops, and Alistair in a very uncommon moment of tenderness to this point, bestows a pet name, Robin, upon Selby. Followed by kisses and a scene that could quickly go over the line and unveil Robin’s secret.
This story had so many layers and levels – from the attraction and love that is momentarily troubling for Alistair as he believes Robin a male, to the ‘dressing as a boy’ and coming to see oneself and one’s life as integrally entwined with the perceptions and reactions of society in that role, to the actual thawing of Alistair’s countenance and behavior under the influence of the well-intentioned and kind-hearted Robin, and even their own hopes for the future. You know that Robin / Charity will be found out – and from all of the information given – that discovery will be disastrous: but can’t help to admire her for the act, and all she gave up to see Louisa settled and safe. The ending, for me, was wholly unexpected as I thought that a demand for Robin / Charity would mean she’d forego the person she had become in Robin, men’s clothes and all – but kudos to Sebastian for allowing the non-conformity to continue, supported by the person, power and title of Alistair. Sebastian’s books are always a treat to read- mixing gender roles and sexuality with the times, adding a dash of politics and society that serve to highlight the connections without overwhelmingly stifling it, and allowing readers to develop empathy with and for people so very different to themselves. I wholly loved this title, even as the challenges managed to unknot fairly easily, perhaps not quite as in real life – but this is fiction and I was cheering their connection and potential happiness early on.
Title: Unmasked by the Marquess
Author: Cat Sebastian
Series: Regency Imposters #1
Genre: Bisexual, Historical Romance, Nonbinary, Regency, Setting: Britain
Published by: Avon Impulse
Published on: 17 April, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Google
The one you love…
Robert Selby is determined to see his sister make an advantageous match. But he has two problems: the Selbys have no connections or money and Robert is really a housemaid named Charity Church. She’s enjoyed every minute of her masquerade over the past six years, but she knows her pretense is nearing an end. Charity needs to see her beloved friend married well and then Robert Selby will disappear…forever.
May not be who you think…
Alistair, Marquess of Pembroke, has spent years repairing the estate ruined by his wastrel father, and nothing is more important than protecting his fortune and name. He shouldn’t be so beguiled by the charming young man who shows up on his doorstep asking for favors. And he certainly shouldn’t be thinking of all the disreputable things he’d like to do to the impertinent scamp.
But is who you need…
When Charity’s true nature is revealed, Alistair knows he can’t marry a scandalous woman in breeches, and Charity isn’t about to lace herself into a corset and play a respectable miss. Can these stubborn souls learn to sacrifice what they’ve always wanted for a love that is more than they could have imagined?
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: