Unclaimed by Courtney Milan
5 out of 5 stars
*It's not often I have a Top Pick, but this one took the cake for creativity and wonderful story crafting.
For the back cover visit Courtney Milan's website- Unclaimed
Sir Mark Turner is the epitome of masculinity. His vow of chastity until marriage has sparked men to hail him as a leading example to all society. Women see him as the ultimate prize in holy matrimony. Sir Mark simply refuses to subject to baser instincts, and seeks solace from his celebrity image amidst the quiet countryside of his childhood home. What he doesn’t expect is to feel desire beyond reason, but when Jessica Farley sashays her way into his sight that’s exactly what happens.
Yet, Jessica’s no virginal queen, and her mission is to remove all traces of chaste and innocence from Sir Mark’s character. Facing destitution Jessica was left with little choice but to accept the contract proposed by Mark’s enemies. All she has to do now is get him to let go of his lofty ideals, though she never thought the man behind the celebrity image would be a man she could easily come to love.
Hail to Milan for an absolute stunner. The entire story was completely unexpected. There is something special about a virginal hero pitted against the sinful courtesan. I found both Jessica and Mark endearing because neither one is exactly how they seem to be in the eyes of outsiders. To most Jessica is evil incarnate, and at times I could swear she should have been walking around with an ‘S’ sewn into her clothes. Though Jessica tries hard to pretend she is not affected by the way people treat her, internally she hates being the villain. She merely wants her own personal chance at happiness. At the same time happiness always has a price.
Mark on the other hand is considered a man incapable of impure thoughts—the chastity king, who only thinks of peace and serenity and doing well by his fellow man. I love how he’s built up by others in the book and set onto a pedestal. Honestly, I was waiting for him to fall, and at the same time hoping he wouldn’t succumb. Also Mark knows that he isn’t perfect and completely chaste, and he’s not afraid to admit it. Like in this one scene with Jessica:
“I don’t want you to cover yourself to withdraw my temptation.” And then—he wasn’t precisely sure why—he dropped his voice to a whisper. “More clothing would hardly signify in any event. I could not possibly forget a single curve of your skin, and when I take myself to bed tonight I doubt I will see anything else.”
She’d been reaching for his jacket. But she froze at that, her hand held rigidly an inch away. Her eyes widened.
“No,” he continued, “the reason I offer is not because I want to avoid my sins, but rather that I must own up to them.”
“Sins?” she repeated.
“We’ve already discussed my sins, Mrs. Farleigh. I am greedy. I am covetous. I am selfish. And one other thing.” He leaned in. “I absolutely do not share.”
“I—But I haven’t—We—“ Her eyes fell from his in discomfort.
“Just because I happen to be a virgin does not mean I am content to share my fantasies at night with other men.”
She exhaled slowly. “If you were any other man,” she said softly, “I would think that you had just threatened to seduce me.”
“Worse.” He leaned down, close enough to whisper. “I threatened to like you. “
That honest streak of Mark’s was just another character trait that made me swoon, and his tongue is sharp and sensual at all the right moments. The story has the other Turner brother’s from Milan’s series popping up, and several interesting characters that make the book complete. I found the scenarios and plot refreshing, different then typical historical novels. Surprises abound, romance formed from the barest of embraces—Unclaimed is a sure win!
*Additional review is available on The Season E-Zine