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Unmasking Miss Appleby (Baleful Godmother Historical Romance Series Book 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 393 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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- Book 1 of 6 in Baleful Godmother Historical Romance Series
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- File Size : 3561 KB
- Print Length : 393 pages
- Publication Date : November 7, 2016
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Emily Larkin; 1st Edition (November 7, 2016)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B01KBGITJQ
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Simultaneous Device Usage : Unlimited
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,688 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Premise: Charlotte Appleby, who is about to turn 25, is a poor, well-born spinster/orphan who lives with her lousy relatives. On the night of her birthday, a scary faerie godmother appears to offer her her choice of magical gifts. Charlotte, realizing that she has to get out of her uncle's house if she's to survive, and also realizing that circa 1807 it is much easier and more lucrative for young men to make their way in the world, chooses the power of metamorphosis. She transforms herself into a young man - "Christopher Albin" - and seeks a job as a secretary to an earl.
The earl in question is Marcus, Lord Cosgrove - "Cuckcold Cosgrove", living under a cloud of suspicion that his beautiful-but-tortured young wife had affairs and then killed herself to get away from him. Marcus is not having a good year: people are also vandalizing his house and attacking him. In fact he needs a new secretary because his previous one is recuperating from a violent assault.
Typically those "ladies disguise themselves as men" historicals are hard to take seriously, and I've only seen one or two that actually made me believe that the heroine was passing as male. This book neatly sidesteps that whole issue by giving Charlotte magical powers. (I would not really say that the book as a whole is particularly paranormal, it's just the one element of Charlotte's shapeshifting, which she uses primarily to do detective work.) IT IS SO FUN YOU GUYS. The trope of Charlotte looking on the outside like a pleasant young gentleman means that the book can explore the different spheres of men and women at this time and have a lot of fun with scenes that made me laugh out loud - including one where Charlotte gravely asks the earl if the prostitute they burst in on with the earl's heir was really trying to play a tune on the heir's masculine organ. It's just very very funny. And Charlotte's confusion and panic about what she realizes is feelings of physical attraction to the earl (while still in her male form) is also pretty glorious.
I really liked this so much. I've enjoyed previous books by Emily Larkin - this one is GREAT. Read it!
(Aside, I really loved that a significant backdrop element of this book is the earl's fight against slavery in the British Empire. For me, it struck exactly the right balance of acknowledging the horror of slavery and having the earl have the exact period objections to it that people who were abolitionists did indeed have - without doing that thing that drives me bananas, where a modern author plasters modern social justice ideas over people living 200 years ago who didn't even believe in universal male suffrage or that everyone should learn to read. You know what I mean? I just found it very, very well done. It's what I always hope for when I see that an author has decided to tackle a social struggle in her work, and very rarely find. Excellently done, Ms. Larkin.)
The problem was the subject matter. If you have to rely on humans changing shape for a plot line, then you are not a creative writer.
Also, there were many implausibilities in the plot. Why would the very rich earl continue to walk around London at night without protection? Why would he not hire security to hide in the bushes and catch the window-breakers at 3 AM?
Finally, I do not recommend this author for conservative Christians. Please read the plot synopsis before you buy one of her books.
I saw NO anachronisms; language was correct for the period; sex scenes did not appall me - in fact, they aroused me - VERY unusual. In addition, I was eager to continue the book and see how the story unfolded,
My only complaint was about the cover - hair, dress, posture and make-up were completely wrong for Regency. So it's all the more impressive that the writing was so good,
Top reviews from other countries
This book, however, managed to combine the two genres into an interesting book, with an original story line and appealing characters. Ms Larkin also writes well. There are no grammatical errors and the editing is good. The story moves along smartly, and the descriptive passages always add to the events - so cannot be just skipped over! I was kept wondering all the time how it was going to resolve itself, and was not disappointed. The characters have stayed with me after I finished reading - always a good test of a good book!
I will not add anything to the book's preview as I don't think reviews should be spoilers in any way. Just read it and enjoy it! I have already downloaded the next in Ms Larkin's series, and look forward to immersing myself it in too!
There were some irritations - Charlotte blushed *all the time*. The weather in London indicated the author was American. There was a hint of the usual prejudges - the villain was a cardboard cutout of evilness; the hired thugs had Jewish names; Cosgrove's wife wasn't a virgin; Cosgrove's mighty wang could tell Charlotte was a virgin by how tight she was. I was also a bit uncomfortable when Charlotte was Cosgrove's dog... It was just... a bit too close to the bone (no pun intended). I nearly threw my kindle at the wall when Cosgrove was angry he'd had sex 'with a man', because he thought Charlotte was a man in a woman's body, rather than vice versa. That was unnecessary. At the end, everything was explained, again, just in case we hadn't remembered it from 100 pages before. And there's a baby fill HEA where Charlotte promises never to use her magic again. Yawn.
But overall, many annoyances were avoided. I did like it when Charlotte did not like sex the first time, and didn't want to repeat the experience! Very refreshing.
The whole thing was sexy, and Charlotte worrying about the reaction of her 'pego' when she was attracted to Cosgrove was hilarious. A really nice read overall.
She watched her fingers wield the quill—large, blunt-tipped, male—and the dizzying sense of wrongness came again: her hand was too large, the quill too small. The letters came out lopsided and awkward, like a child learning to write.
As would be the case for most unmarried ladies of that era, Charlotte knows virtually nothing about men and her ignorance of how a man’s body works and her naivety about sexual matters provide for some humorous moments, especially in relation to one particular appendage or “pego” as Charlotte calls it, and in the brothel scene.
In her role as a man, Charlotte has independence and the freedom to do things and go to places that would have been forbidden to her as a woman. I like it when authors make subtle social comments within a story.
She could do things she’d never been able to do, go places that had been forbidden, grab opportunities no one would ever offer a woman.
A genuine friendship develops between Marcus and Christopher and I love how Marcus feels a genuine sense of responsibility and protectiveness towards Christopher whom he sees as ‘green as an unbreeched babe’. As Christopher, Charlotte gets a real insight into Marcus’s character. He seems to have everything – looks, wealth and a title – but his life is far from a happy one. I admire Marcus for his stance against the slave trade, not only in words but also in deeds.
I was glad that Charlotte only uses her gift to aid Marcus in his search or when they are threatened with violence. I also like the fact that when she changes, it takes time for her to adapt and it isn’t all plain sailing or flying in this case.
Charlotte veered away in a wild swoop, losing height. The floor lunged up at her. She cheeped in terror, clawed at the air with her wings, found herself plunging upwards.
It took two lurching circuits of the bedchamber before she found her balance in the air. Dip of wing, flap of wing, became natural and effortless.
The ability to become any animal she wishes enables Charlotte to search for evidence in circumstances which would prove impossible for humans, and is therefore an important element in the plot. I thought Marcus’s response to discovering Christopher’s magic ability was realistic given the circumstances. He couldn’t deny what he had seen with his own eyes.
Faerie magic. It was ludicrous. Preposterous. Impossible. And yet I see it with my own eyes.
I like how Ms. Larkin explores Charlotte’s growing attraction for Marcus (which causes some problems when a certain part of her anatomy insists on standing to attention) and how she creates a believable way for Marcus to meet Charlotte as herself. Their romance develops during a series of meetings, awkward at first, but gradually with a growing sense of warmth, tenderness and intimacy.
I understood Marcus’s initial angry reaction when he discovers Charlotte’s deception, because he sees it as yet another betrayal by someone he trusted. It takes a life-threatening situation, a letter and a journey to bring him to his senses and make him realise that he loves Charlotte.
I found the plot kept my interest throughout and the denouement was quite shocking, not at all what I expected.
MY VERDICT: A charming romance with a touch of magic and an intriguing mystery. Highly recommended and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.