“A virgin?” There was a note of amusement in his voice. “True. But just because I don’t believe in poaching out of season doesn’t mean I can’t hunt.”
As I’m sitting here trying to write this review, I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved Unclaimed. So much passion, so much wisdom, so much hope, so much truth, so much… just… so very much!! And quotes? Literally pages worth of quotes I’d love to share with you. Some that took my breath away, some made me swoon, others made me cry.
So, where to begin? Well, if you’re a fan of historical romance, you know how unfair society could be towards “fallen women.” That double standard that literally ruined lives, sometimes for a single “transgression,” while yet allowing men to get away with anything and everything, the more debauched, the better! I adored this book because it took that very issue and stood it on its ear, showing it from an entirely different point of view. I absolutely adored Mark Turner, whose book A Gentleman’s Practical Guide to Chastity, had become an overnight sensation, garnering a near cult-like following of men and women passionate about giving up sex! In fact, so great was his stardom, even Queen Victoria had heard about the book and bestowed Knighthood on Mark!
To be honest, I wasn’t sure how entertaining a book about a male virgin would really be, but leave it to Courtney Milan to make it work! I cheered Sir Mark in his convictions, his reasons for choosing abstinence and his often humorous determination not to be swayed.
Jessica Farleigh was a fallen woman who had reached the point of desperation, and decided to do whatever she had to in order to survive. She had no desire to find herself on the streets again, so in this instance, survival meant seducing the infamous virgin, Sir Mark Turner, in to giving up chastity, and then publicly ruining him by giving away all the details of their night of passion. Having been hired to do so by a ruthless, power hungry politician who wanted Mark destroyed, the money she’d earn if she succeeded would make it so she’d never have to sell her body again. Tired, bitter and desperate, she didn’t care what it would cost the virtuous Mark Turner.
I really am having trouble explaining all the reasons I loved this book. Humor, passion, seriousness... I've decided I'll just share a few of my favorite quotes, in hopes that they can show you why I adore this story so much. It was so hard to choose which ones to include, though, because they’re all so, so good, and so true!
“If you were any other man,” she said softly, “I would think that you had just threatened to seduce me.”
“Worse.” He leaned down, close enough to whisper. “I threatened to like you. I suspect seduction would be easier for you to understand.”
A small smile touched her lips. “Sir Mark, there’s no need to threaten me with anything so drastic as like. Mere acceptance would be sufficiently shocking.”
“A man who is sufficiently strong in his own right need not be jealous of power in others.” He glanced at her. “I know ugly men who insist on ugly wives, believing that they will not stray.” He shrugged. “For myself, I’ve always wanted a beautiful woman.”
She let out a little laugh. “Because you are so beautiful yourself?”
“Because I intend to win her affections to me, mind and soul.” And then, as if in an afterthought, he added: “And body. I definitely look forward to winning her body.”
“It cheapens what I’ve accomplished,” Mark said, “to imagine me a saint. To believe I am untempted, that I pass through this life without feeling lust or want or desire. I said it in the first chapter of my book, and yet nobody seems to believe me. Chastity is hard. ”
“I hadn’t thought—”
“I want. I lust. I desire.” He scrubbed his hand through sandy blond hair at that, shaking his head. “No. You’re right. You don’t deserve euphemisms. I want you. I lust after you. I desire you. ”
She might have been the only woman in the world, pinned by his gaze.
“But what I don’t do is act.”
“You’re a duke’s brother. A knight. And I’m a whore.”
He grabbed her wrist. “Don’t call yourself that. I wouldn’t let anyone else talk about you that way— why should I let you?”
“Very well. Call me a fallen woman, then.”
“Do you think that matters to me? My mother used to say that there was no such thing as a fallen woman. You just had to look for the man who pushed her down.”
The bottom line - With Unclaimed, Courtney Milan has outdone herself, and it has become one of my all time favorite historical romance novels. I loved seeing the desire to be chaste from the male perspective - both the humor and the seriousness of it. This story is heartwarming and heartbreaking, romantic and passionate. And don't be concerned that it's a "holier than thou" pulpit pounding tale, far from it. Mark's reasons for his chastity are made very clear, and they'll have you cheering him just as I did. Ms. Milan had me laughing out loud, sighing and wishing it would never end. And visiting with Ash and Smite… so much fun! Unclaimed, is definitely an addition to my Keepers shelf.
This ARC ebook was provided free of charge by netgalley.com in behalf of Harlequin. This had no influence on my rating or my review.