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Unmasked by the Marquess by Cat Sebastian

Reading Cat Sebastian is always an experience. A wonderful experience. When Unmarked by the Marquess came out though I found myself hesitating to read it. Maybe it was because I love Cat Sebastian so much and to start reading one of her books means that it will soon be over. It's much safer to leave a book unread than be devastated that it's ending. But I know that I was also hesitating because the main character is non-binary and I was afraid Cat Sebastian wouldn't be able to successfully accomplish a non-binary character in the rigid time period of historical England.

How wrong I was.

Blurb: 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?

Review: This book had it all. It was funny. It was smart. It was different. It gave us drama without dragging it on too long. It gave us suspense without making us anxious. And the relationship had obstacles that seemed impossible to overcome, but I never lost faith that they would be.

I loved Robert Selby aka. Charity Church. I loved that she considered herself non-binary in such a rigid society--and she wasn't the least bit ashamed of that--and I loved that the fact that she was non-binary wasn't, necessarily, one of the relationship obstacles. It was a small piece of everything but we didn't have to sit there and watch our hero try to 'come to terms' with his paramour's identity, which would probably have turned me off the book entirely. Alastair accepts Charity as she is, it's society's expectations of woman that he doesn't fully grasp.

Alastair is a fabulous counterpart for Charity. He doesn't really give a hoot about her gender identity, he just knows that he loves her and needs to figure out a way to keep her without ruining her reputation and getting her sent to prison. He's everything we historical readers love in our heroes. He's conceded, powerful, and not the least bit concerned with how people view him, so long as he can still throw his money and name around to get what he wants. Together they set a new standard for couples in historical romances everywhere.

Cat Sebastian is such a talented author. You just sort of fall into the book and sometimes you don't even remember to come up for air. So it goes with such amazing writing. This book was really something new in the historical romance world--and the romance world as a whole. I hope that more and more authors create characters with more diverse gender and sexual identities. Everyone should pick up this book and open themselves up to something new. You won't be disappointed.


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