Cat Sebastian’s latest book, Unmasked by the Marquess is an enjoyable historical romance set with a grumpy bi/pan Marquess and a non-binary liar, making them an unlikely pair tangled in a story of sacrifice and acceptance.
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.
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.
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?Goodreads
I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of Unmasked by the Marquess from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
There’s Alistair, who’s worked very hard to restore not only the honor to his father’s title but also the wealth. Alistair is a brooding hero with the accompanying stern looks and permanent frown between his eyebrows. He also puts on a pair of glasses when he’s especially in a scrutinizing mood which adds to the swoon. Believe me, both Robert Selby and I felt the heat of Alistair’s Stare.
Then we have his counterpart Robin. She is introduced as Robert Selby to Alistair, but her real name is Charity Church. Charity Church is a name she clings to, but an identity that she isn’t attached to. What I loved the most about Robin, who is non-binary and goes by she/her pronouns, is how she thought of her identity. She embraced the clothes associated with masculinity and felt out of place in a dress. But, in times of need, especially when it comes to Louisa, her close friend and the girl she gave her name away to protect, she’d don a dress. I enjoyed Robin’s wild and very charming nature. She’s sacrificial and giving and quite deserving of love but she’s also outgoing and loves the life she gets to have dressed as Robert Selby.
I was very curious to see how Sebastian would portray Robin as non-binary, and I quite enjoyed that she welcomed trousers but also kept the pronouns she and her. She expressed how she felt in between at times, which some non-binary readers might relate to. Especially those who use binary pronouns. Just because a non-binary person uses she or he pronouns it doesn’t lessen from their validity as non-binary. I loved that this message was included, and I’d love to read reviews from other non-binary readers.
The romance in the book was very enjoyable. Alistair is attracted to both Robin’s appearance and her wit from the get-go. Finding out about her concealed identity doesn’t deter the attraction. I think Alistair in modern day words would be bisexual or pansexual seeing as both those terms would reflect his attraction. There’s a discussion of how the two would be together and not force Robin into a dress which is an absolute no for her. I thought the solution the two found was excellent.
The heat level of the book is around a three out of five. There’s a total of three explicit sexual scenes in which both parties were consensual and very enthusiastic. There’s also a hint of excitement in the beginning of their affair, since Robin continued her facade as “Robert Selby.”
Unmasked by the Marquess has a moderate level of angst. It concerned the characters’ relationship very nicely and it tied up their affairs in a good way. We get to see Alistair using his power for his own happiness rather than just advancing his wealth. We see Robin taking a chance on herself – something she hasn’t done for a long time.
If you’re a fan of historical romances that end happily and want to read something that has a lot of great one liners, an intriguing plot about power and dynamics of gender, you’ll want to pick up Unmasked by the Marquess. I look forward to the next book, A Duke in Disguise, which comes out in November!
I highly recommend it, and rate this book five stars!