Review: Unmasked by the Marquess by Cat Sebastian (Regency Imposters #1)


Note: This ARC was provided by Avon Impulse (HarperCollins) in exchange for an honest review.

“I'm afraid you haven't yet realized how much trouble this will all be.” 
“You've been nothing but trouble since I met you. And I've never been happier. I want a lifetime of trouble from you.”

Cat Sebastian has been a go-to author for me since I picked up her debut novel, The Soldier's Scoundrel, and I've adored every release since then, but I love how she's pushed the envelope with her latest book, Unmasked by the Marquess. This Regency Imposters series starter is in a class all its own, very much an original among a slew of unimaginative repeat "offenders" (i.e. basically the same story lines and character profiles) and failed experiments (i.e. shots at something new with lackluster results). The author kicks off her new series with a tale of deception and bravado and a cast of characters who are as markedly familiar as they are extraordinary.

Sebastian introduces readers to the thirty-four-year-old rigid and proud eighth Marquess of Pembroke, Alistair de Lacey, who sees things in black and white but has his world turned upside down when along comes an unassuming man ten years his junior, Mr. Robert Selby, who declares Alistair's late father his younger sister's godfather and request Alistair's assistance as she endeavors to have her first season among the ton in hopes of finding a suitable husband. Instead, it is Alistair who finds an unexpected friend in the man he's nicknamed Robin. Alistair has a great deal of affection for Robin, but what he doesn't know is that the lad is actually a lass.

First things first: yes, Robert (aka Robin) is actually Charity Church, and yes, she wears men's clothing and has done so since she was eighteen. There were reasons why she did what she did six years ago, and has even greater motivation to continue the farce at present. While Robert Selby actually being Charity Church is not a secret--it's mentioned in the official synopsis for the book--I'm not going to go into detail as to what led her down that path and why was still on said path when she meets the Marquess of Pembroke. Suffice it to say that when Robin's secret is revealed, things only become more complicated for her as well as those closest to Robin.

Robin, which is the name she prefers to be called by the end of the book, being what could be considered today as being a non-binary individual--someone who doesn't identify as either male or female--is probably one of the most notable things about the book. However, I would be remiss if I fail to mention that Alistair's attraction to Robin regardless of the clothing worn or by who Alistair believed Robin to be--i.e. male--prior to learning the truth is also noteworthy. After all, it's not as if one's sexuality and gender identification being different from what was considered the norm is exclusive to contemporary times; there are simply far more labels nowadays.

Having a novel story line and main characters is one thing, but if Cat Sebastian's writing were not up to snuff, this book could have very well failed miserably. Fortunately, she has once again shown that she has the writing chops to not merely pull a plot and a cast like these off but does so with aplomb. Kudos to Sebastian, as well, for taking the time to provide information that shows how Robin's situation was not as implausible as one may think during that time period. The author an admirable tale of romance and family and how legacy and integrity are not necessarily tied to one's public persona and reputation. Five-plus stars for Unmasked by the Marquess. ♥

Release Date: 16 April 2018

Date Read: 16 April 2018

Learn more about Cat Sebastian.

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