December 28, 2016
Oh those manly-men - sort of.
Do your know how we often whine about our heroines dressing up as men? Or maybe it's
just me who whines. Well in this story we have a case of our heroine Charlotte Appleby doing just that. (Not whining, pretending to be a man). Except in this case, thanks to a malevolent faerie godmother, Charlotte actually becomes a man - she gets everything a man has; that includes a Mr. Toad and his dangly parts. All of these hangy-down things on her body make for some humorous moments. You see, Charlotte is a pretty innocent woman, even more so when confronted with her newly created man-parts. It's an interesting twist to an old plot-line. In case you haven't guessed - there is a paranormal aspect to this story.
Charlotte Appleby wants to escape the drudgery of her relative's house. She wants something more, but being a woman it's hard for her to get out from under. Her choices are pretty limited. Then on her twenty-fifth birthday she finds out she has a faerie godmother - a real faerie godmother. She can make a wish - of course a number of these wishes come with strings attached; her godmother is a little tricky. Anyway, after reviewing some of her options, she decides she wants the ability of transform her appearance. (That's not the one I would have went for, but it's not my story and I don't have a faerie godmother). Charlotte's priorities are to find something she can earn money at. The only way to earn enough money to live is to change into a man - which she does. She becomes Christopher Albin. She becomes the secretary to Marcus Langford, the Earl of Cosgrove.
Marcus is a widower and there are rumors flying about his wife’s demise. Someone is trying to damage his reputation by spreading those awful tales. On top of that, someone is throwing things through his window and leaving poop on his door-step. So, there's a lot for Marcus to contend with and he needs a new secretary because the last one was in an "accident." He hires Christopher/Charlotte and soon they are looking for the scoundrel/scoundrels responsible for all the hubbub.
Unmasking Miss Appleby was written very well; the mystery and the romance flowed together smoothly. There was a well balanced mix of humor and drama. It doesn't take Christopher/Charlotte long to become attracted to Marcus, but because she's in a man's body she doesn't act on it. This also leads to some pretty funny moments. Her newly acquired Mr. Toad is a mystery to her and because her Mr. Toad is springing up every time she's around Marcus, she must come up with a solution. Her solution is to turn herself back into Charlotte and pretend to have information for Marcus. This information she actually received while she was Christopher. Marcus shows up at the mysterious Charlotte's flat only to find out that she will only give him the information if he has sex with her. What's a guy to do? He needs the information, so he sacrifices himself and has a pretty good night of whankee-roo. Though he does feel guilty later - sort of. So, as Charlotte her inch is scratched, as Christopher she is Marcus' friend and as the bear she scares bad guys. You got it?
If there was anything I had a quibble with it was that we didn't really get to see Marcus' POV for a lot of the book. It wasn't until Charlotte is revealed that we actually are let in on his brain-think. I thought his reaction to the Charlotte reveal was a tad bit excessive considering he didn't react all that much when he found out Christopher/Charlotte could turn himself/herself into a bear, dog, and a bird. Of course, he thought it was Christopher turning into animals, not Charlotte. Although why it didn't dawn on him that if Christopher could be a dog, he could also be a woman.
This was the first book by Emily Larkin that I've read and I liked it well enough to read the next in the series when it comes out. I do recommend this book and if you like a little paranormal in your romance, you'll like this one. This isn't an overpowering paranormal/fantasy book, just a little spattering of faerie dust for your enjoyment.
Time/Place: Regency England