Title: Unclaimed (Turner #2)
Author: Courtney Milan
Published: September 2011 (HQN Books)
Summary: Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London—and he's known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check...until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he's waited for all his life. But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark's enemies make her an offer she can't refuse: seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she's sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs…and the love she knows is impossible.
I first heard about this book when it was the pick for the Sizzling Book Club at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. I made a note that I wanted to read it because I was interested in the premise (and, of course, the lovely cover). However, I did not get around to it until a few months later. I decided to read the series in order, starting with Unveiled, which I already reviewed here. I enjoyed Unveiled, but I found to my slight dismay that the most interesting character was only a lowly brother of the hero, and, as a grown male virgin, would probably never have a book of his own. Then, lo and behold, I looked at the summary for Unclaimed again...and proceeded to do such a flail!dance as you have never seen before.
Let me reiterate this. Sir Mark Turner is a fully grown man. And a virgin. By choice. I have never read a historical romance (or of any subgenre, actually) where this was the case. I was immediately fascinated by Mark and his choices, his reasoning, and the public's reaction to him and his book. Having never read a book where a courtesan (or former courtesan) was the heroine, I was also wondering how it would be handled. Milan did a fantastic job with them both. I felt the book lost a little of its magic for the last quarter or so, but it was still thoroughly enjoyable.
One of my favorite things in this book was the emphasis on honesty, particularly in regards to Mark. It made for some tremendous interactions, particularly in the beginning of the book when Mark and Jessica were getting to know each other.
❝It’s what I like best about you – your willingness to insult me to my face.❞Oh! And another of my favorite things. Upon inspection of the cover, you will find a large, not-particularly-aesthetically-pleasing ring on the hero's finger. I noticed this when I first picked up the book, thought it a bit odd, but did not dwell on it. But get this: the ring actually exists! In the book! Far from the famous use of the flawless cover!hero to represent the horribly scarred story!hero, the cover for this book actually matches the story. I may be unreasonably excited about this, but I really think it warrants mention.
I enjoyed Milan's writing style. She had fantastic inner narration for both Jessica and Mark, and their dialogue was sharp, honest, witty, and fraught with sexual tension. Unclaimed had some particularly great quotes, from hilarious to insightful to emotionally moving.
❝No man with a moustache like that should ever try to look innocent.❞
❝Oh, the subtlety of a randy teenager.❞
❝I can’t stop worrying just because someone assures me it’s unnecessary.❞
❝“You’ve always been your own knight,” he said, “riding to your rescue. I’m just the man who came along and saw how brightly your armor shown.”❞*recovers from swooning*
Courtney Milan is quickly becoming one of my auto-buy (or at least auto-put-on-hold-at-the-library...I am a broke college student, after all) authors. Her writing is stellar, her characters truly original, and I like supporting her.
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