Sir Mark Turner is a “rock star” of his time. After writing A Gentleman’s Practical Guide to Chastity he has become an overnight success and London’s most sought-after bachelor. Everyone wants to know him, and be like him. Well, not everyone. Mark is up for political office and one of his enemies seeks to ruin his pristine reputation and therefore destroy any future in politics he may have. Mark really has little interest in living in the public eye though, and would prefer to live a quiet and unassuming life. He is dedicated to remaining a virgin until he finds love and marriage, however he is no prude.
I love a hero that is imperfect but redeemable. I love the layers and texture a broken hero adds to a story and I’m usually more drawn to the bad boys of romance. However, Sir Mark Turner, virgin hero extraordinaire, may just have changed my mind on this matter. When I read “virgin hero” I automatically think innocent, shy, very reserved. But while Mark remains “untouched” he is anything but innocent.
This left her equally confused. “But you’re— you’re—” “A virgin?”
There was a note of amusement in his voice. “Just because I don’t believe in poaching out of season doesn’t mean I can’t hunt.”
Mark is committed to remaining chaste until he is married, however that does not mean he does not lust. He firmly believes in self control and personal responsibility and refuses to impose himself upon a woman simply to satisfy his physical needs. He does not subscribe to the idea that men cannot and should not reign themselves in sexually and snubs the idea that women should be held to a different standard than men in that arena. He is quite a revolutionary thinker for his time, however it seems many of his (unwanted) followers have grossly misinterpreted his ideals.
Jessica is a courtesan desperate to leave her way of life behind. When an opportunity to earn a great deal of money to secure her future by seducing Mark Turner arises, she takes it. She is experienced in the art of seduction and believes she will be able to take Mark down quickly and move on. She never expected that the man she means to destroy would treat her with kindness and respect she’s never experienced from a man. When he offers friendship and more, Jessica is knocked completely off her foundation.
I wanted to dislike Jessica simply because I liked Mark so much. I expected the evil seductress and innocent hero, and on the surface that is what they are. But as the layers are slowly peeled away we see a great deal of vulnerability in Jessica as she is experiencing relationship dynamics that are truly foreign to her. She has been mistreated in her past and we get a good sense of Jessica’s desperation and her need to do anything they can to escape her current situation making it very easy to sympathize. And although Mark is being deceived, he never comes off as a victim.
It was so easy to get lost in this book. It is such a romantic and passionate journey to love for a couple that are far more than what they seem on the surface. Although Mark seems perfect he really is not, however he has the wherewithal to recognize his shortcomings and own them. Jessica is nearly broken but is a survivor. It’s Mark’s belief in her that helps her heal and regain her self worth.
Unclaimed was such a satisfying, lovely romance yet it left me wanting more. Knowing there is yet another Turner brother that has yet to find love and having to wait is absolutely torturous. Life is just not fair.
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. I suspect seduction would be easier for you to understand.”
A small smile touched her lips. “Sir Mark, there’s no need to threaten me with anything so drastic as like. Mere acceptance would be sufficiently shocking.”
Mark straightened. “One last thing, Mrs. Farleigh.” He took a deep breath and waited for her to raise her eyes to him one last time. When she did, he gave her a wolfish grin. “Red suits you,” he said, and then left.