Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review: Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Unclaimed by Courtney Milan
Series: The Turners, Book 2
Publisher: HQN
Genre: Historical Romance Unclaimed Cover
ISBN: 978-0373776030
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Sir Mark Turner never thought his book, A Gentleman’s Practical Guide to Chastity, would become a sensation. He also didn’t expect to be put on a pedestal and worshiped by all of London society. All Mark wants is peace…and for someone besides his brothers to truly see him and not some make believe saint. Even a trip to his small hometown doesn’t free Mark of constant adulation. Then he meets Jessica Farleigh, a woman who is everything he ever wanted. There’s just one problem…

Jessica is a courtesan who was almost broken by her last “protector.” She’s desperate to be free, to be her own person, not a man’s possession. However, freedom has a price; to earn the money she needs, Jessica accepts an offer from an enemy of Mark’s. For fifteen hundred pounds, she’ll seduce and ruin Sir Mark Turner. But as she grows closer to her target, Jessica finds it more and more difficult to plot his downfall. Soon, she finds herself faced with a difficult question: Will she sacrifice love for freedom?

I’ve got a new author on my auto-buy list: Courtney Milan. Unclaimed is a dazzling, captivating book that I practically devoured in one sitting. I only paused to order Ms. Milan’s Unveiled, because I’m officially hooked on the Turner brothers!

Mark was a superb character. He’s a rather unusual romance hero, in that he’s a virgin. But as much as others try to define Mark by this one part of his character, it isn’t the whole of him. Furthermore, Mark isn’t– as he often reminds Jessica – innocent or lacking desire. The choices he makes in his life are deliberate, based on a desire to protect women from the disdain of society. He’s a good man who tries to do his best to make others’ lives better, but his message is frequently distorted by the adoring public. I felt bad for Mark as I watched him be mobbed by worshippers who didn’t truly understand or hear him. That’s why it was such a delight for him to cross paths with Jessica. She may be a courtesan rather than the provocative widow he thinks her to be, but her deception doesn’t make me dislike her. She’s not cruel, but she is a survivor that’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. She wants to be her own person, unclaimed by any man. The story felt all the more real to me because Ms. Milan highlights how Victorian society viewed women – “fallen” women in particular. My heart broke for Jessica, and – just as I wanted her to see Mark for who he was – it was every bit as vital to me that Mark see Jessica for who she truly is, strengths, vulnerabilities, and all. Both of them may make mistakes, but what they do wrong adds to the book as much as what they do right does. The chemistry between Jessica and Mark made the pages of Unclaimed fly by and their banter elevated the book from simply being a delightful historical romance to being a book that’s truly memorable.

Unclaimed is the second full-length book in Ms. Milan’s Turner series, but it can be read as a standalone. The Turner family is an unusual one, though I won’t spoil Mark’s story by revealing why. I will say that all three brothers intrigued me, which is why I paused in my reading of Unclaimed to purchase Unveiled. I cannot wait to dive into Unveiled, but as jazzed as I am to read Ash Turner’s book, I am even more excited to read Smite Turner’s book, Unraveled.

With its unique characters, fresh plot, sizzling sexual tension, and sparkling dialogue, Unclaimed has everything a romance fan could want and more. I absolutely adored Mark and Jessica and I cannot wait to read more of Ms. Milan’s work!


Angela said...

I can't wait to read this! It sounds so good!!