The topic of this month is Something Different (outside your comfort zone, unusual setting, non-romance etc.)
Genre: Regency / paranormal
My Rating: 4 stars
Part of a series: Baleful Godmothers #1
This is a Regency with a twist. Something different and very well written.
In May we had to look outside our comfort zone. And as I am not very fond of paranormals, this looked like a good option.
It was in my kindle because it had very good reviews; as a matter of fact it was considered by many as one of the best novels of 2016.
Charlotte Appleby is your average Cinderella, living with her aunt and uncle, serving as an unpaid governess for their children. When her 25th birthday comes, a strange woman appears. A Faerie godmother offers her a gift, one of her choosing. Levitating, or reading other people’s thoughts or... Among different options she decided that shape shifting was the best idea.
So now, destitute, but wanting to make a living on herself, she decides to transform herself into a young man. In this shape, she becomes the secretary of a politician and earl, Lord Cosgrove.
Someone is trying to kill the earl, and Charlotte, now transformed into this nice and young man, Christopher Albin, is helping him. They investigate the different suspects. The earl has quite a little number of enemies. In his public life, he has achieved powerful enemies as he is trying to help forbid slave trade. In his private life, well, he is a widower; her late wife was unfaithful and killed herself, so he has strained relationships with both her lover (his former best friend) and her brother.
Charlotte, being a woman in a man’s body, discovers a whole new world of independence. She and the earl talk frankly about many things, including sex, and he takes her to places that would have been forbidden for her in her feminine form, as a brothel. There she sees sex performances that she does not quite understand because she has lived quite a secluded life and therefore understands very little of what’s going on. The earl has to explain her later what they have seen. Some moments are very funny, the things she asks, and how the earl reacts and how he’s uncomfortable with this young man questions.
This thing of a woman impersonating a man, in this case as a shape shifter (she can transform herself into a dog or a mouse or anything she wants), is one of my favourite topics. You are always wondering how it is going to be discovered, when will Marcus discover that his secretary is a shape shifter? How is the author going to make he meet Charlotte as herself or at least as someone female? When and how is he going to discover that unbelievable thing, that his male secretary is the same as that young and woman?
I think Emily Larkin solves these points in a very clever way. She knows how sustain the tension, both sexual and emotional and the plot, to keep you interested in it until the en unfolds everything.
Both Charlotte and Marcus are interesting characters. They try to behave correctly and be frank. When it comes to sex we have one of those a (more or less) bad-sex scenes that have a lot of sense in the context of the story. And it has its drops of suspense, which is a genre I do really enjoy.
So I really enjoyed this book. As a matter of fact it was just a book set in the Regency only with that paranormal twist of a woman disguised as a man. But a Regency without balls and gardens and moonshine, which was a nice change. It was the time when there was war and slavery and politicians fighting against slavery and its awful trade. The paranormal element was rather subdued and I think that’s why I could enjoy it even if paranormal is not my thing.
So if you have an opportunity, read this book, I think you will not be sorry.