September 28, 2011

Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London—and he's known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check...until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he's waited for all his life.


But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark's enemies make her an offer she can't refuse: seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she's sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs…and the love she knows is impossible.

Author: Courtney Milan
Series: The Turners, book 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: HQN Books
Year of release: 2011, September 27
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Requested an e-ARC from publisher via NetGalley

First line:
Sir Mark Turner did not look like any virgin that Jessica had ever seen before.
Memorable Scenes:
- the church picnic > wonderful scene
- the shooting party at the Tollivers > the tension and attraction between Mark and Jessica was at its high point here, on the verge of snapping
- Jessica's confession after rejecting Mark's proposal > I cried and my heart broke for both of them
- the duel > AWESOME!!
- Mark at Jessica’s parental residence > I bawled and had to read through my tears

Dire circumstances forced Jessica Farleigh to lead a courtesan’s life. A life filled with hurt and loss. This has made the Jessica a calculated survivor with a big sense of adaptability. So when her survival depends on the seduction of a man who slowly worms his way into her heart, she has some tough choices to make. I don’t know if Jessica is a heroine for everyone but I definitely liked her survivor’s mentality. She did some stupid things but still she tried to sort her way out of them. And the way she owned up to her flaws and bad decisions made her a great heroine for me.

Mark Turner is the author of a practical guide to chastity. What starts as a philosophical work he just wanted to put on paper makes him a famous and much sought after person in London. But it also puts him in the line of fire of petty, envious enemies. Mark is a clever, easy-mannered man of principles. He is gentle yet commanding and he’s tired of people seeing him as some saint who can't be tempted. His ultimate temptation comes in the form a woman out to ruin him. To me Mark was a hero in every sense of the word. He has immediately been added to my list of favorite heroes.

I utterly enjoyed the teasing and battles of will between Mark and Jessica. There were also battles of will in the previous books and I really like that Courtney Milan gives each couple a different type of dynamic, making the romances unique and fresh. I also liked the build-up of the sexual tension towards the explosive first love scene, proving that sexy doesn't have to be explicit or crass. The chemistry between Mark and Jessica is instant and though it offered every opportunity for a quick explosive tumble in the sack, I LOVED how Courtney Milan didn’t take that road.

The secondary cast is supportive in every sense of the word. They are never intrusive, yet play crucial roles in both plot and romance. There are secondary characters you’ll love instantly (Mark’s family), ones you’ll hate on the spot (Weston and the reverend) and those who you just need some time to warm up to (Nigel Parret, James Tolliver and Jessica’s father). I utterly enjoyed having the Turner brothers on the page together. The banter and brotherly dynamic were awesome but the bond between them shone through splendidly as well.

The plot revolves around Jessica trying to seduce Mark into losing his virginity (and virtue) by order of his biggest enemy and rival for a post offered to Mark and Jessica's former protector. But there's so much more going on. There's something that happened in Jessica's past (to do with her former protector) that has made her skittish of men touching her. This is revealed slowly and enticingly with small clues worked into characterization, action and dialogue. I couldn't wait to get to the bottom of it and when I did I was shocked at the cruelty of it and like Mark I wanted vengeance.

There are also Jessica’s and Mark’s back-stories, both slowly unveiled throughout the book and that’s one of the things I love about Courtney Milan’s writing: She doesn’t give you information about the characters and their motivation in one big telling-instead-of-showing info-dump but gradually incorporates the information in dialogues and the characters’ behavior and actions.

I've said it before: Courtney Milan's writing is mesmerizing magic. The pictures she paints through her writing are vivid and almost tangible. In UNCLAIMED she showed and proved this through the beautiful yet succinct descriptions, her spot-on characterizations and the sparkling dialogues. I haven’t read Milan’s first series but after the three stories that I’ve read in the Turners series I know they will be soon devoured as I’m madly in love with her writing.

UNCLAIMED is a historical romance in a league of its own. Its non-beauty makes it beautiful. Its rawness and pureness makes it gripping, its far from perfect characters makes it perfect and Courtney Milan's writing makes it unforgettable and exceptionally emotional.

Favorite Quotes:
"Mrs. Jessica Farleigh, official town disgrace. At your service."
"Sir Mark Turner," he said. "I speak with the tongues of a thousand angels. Butterflies follow me wherever I go. Birds sing when I take a breath."

In the years that followed, she'd learned that the glittering finery was a trap, that the soiree was not endless. It eroded you, piece by irrevocable piece. It made a mockery of love, and if you did not look after your heart with a ferocious care, you'd find, bit by bit, you'd traded it for silk ribbons and baubles on gold chains.

"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." (Mark to Jessica)

"There is no such thing as a fallen woman—you just need to look for the man who pushed her."

Sir Mark wanted her as she was, not as he wanted her to be.

She belonged to herself again, body and soul, pleasure and heartbreak. She was every inch hers again, her body reclaimed from those long years of bitter ownership.

Hope is a fickle friend. Gorging on it was like eating too much pudding. All the sweetness would feel wonderful for a few minutes, but once the first heady rush of energy faded, it left you tired and worn through.

For one lovely second, she could believe the promise in his kiss: that this would not fade, that she would wake up to him for a thousand mornings to come. Ten thousand mornings.

"You've always been your own knight," he said, "riding to your rescue. I'm just the man who came along and saw how brightly your armor shone."


Marissa said...

What a wonderful review Pearl, I have not read anything from Milan yet, but raw and pure sounds good to me!

Leontine said...

Feeling the love you have for this series emmanate from your review, Pearl!! I've read her debut and fell for her writing and characters as well. Still, haven't read more though *palmface*

Aurian said...

Lovely review Pearl, I've read about this book before, and it is on my wishlist. That cover though, are they wearing matching rings?

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

Everyone loves this author so much-i must give her a try!

Pearl said...

@Aurian > You know? I hadn't even noticed that (I don't pay much attention to covers to be honest) but now that I looked at it more closely, yes they are...and though it's not completely accurate for them both to be wearing a matching ring, it does somehow match something in the storyline... Really cryptic, huh? LOL

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39, married to my real life romance hero, addicted to TV shows, reading romance novels and Twitter. I'm a chronic (e)book hoarder and my absolute favorite genres within romance fiction are contemporary romance and romantic suspense, but I don't shy away from historical, paranormal or erotic romance either. Even the occasional (urban) fantasy romance, futuristic and sci fi romance may make it to my Mount TBR. This is my corner of the world wide web where I let you know what books I'm hoarding, reading and reviewing.
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2011 Reading Challenge

Pearl has read 10 books toward her goal of 50 books.

On My TBR Shelf

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  • To Desire a Devil - Elizabeth Hoyt
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Digital TBR Next

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  • Tempt Me - Shiloh Walker
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