On her 25th birthday, Charlotte Appleby receives a most unusual gift from the Faerie godmother she never knew she had: the ability to change shape.
Penniless and orphaned, she sets off for London to make her fortune as a man. But a position as secretary to Lord Cosgrove proves unexpectedly challenging. Someone is trying to destroy Cosgrove and his life is increasingly in jeopardy.
As Charlotte plunges into London’s backstreets and brothels at Cosgrove’s side, hunting his persecutor, she finds herself fighting for her life—and falling in love…
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Charlotte Appleby is orphaned, and has been living with her aunt and family, basically as an unpaid servant. Though Charlotte’s aunt made a deathbed promise to sponsor a season for Charlotte, that promise fell by the wayside. All of the family members even rub salt into the wound by insisting on calling her “Charity.” On her twenty-fifth birthday, Charlotte is visited by an unusual woman, who tells her that she may choose a supernatural gift because of a service performed by one of Charlotte’s ancestors. The woman explains that she is Fae, and is obligated to make this gift to every female in Charlotte’s direct line. Charlotte listens to the options available for her gift, and chooses to have the ability to shape change into any creature. She then decides to leave her aunt’s home, and pursue a career as a man – thus Christopher Albin is born.
Marcus Langford’s life is a mess. The Earl of Cosgrove is facing strong opposition for his political views, and enduring scandal for the accidental death of his cheating wife. His home is continually being vandalized, and now, he is being personally attacked. The last attack left him battered, and his secretary seriously injured and off to the country to recuperate. He desperately needs a new secretary, but the candidates balk when they learn they may be in danger. One candidate, Christopher Albin, is willing to accept the job, though his references are questionable. Marcus is desperate enough to hire him/her.
Charlotte retains the shape of a man even when alone so she can become more familiar with the differences in her body – she basically has become Christopher Albin. Marcus and Christopher begin investigating the men Marcus feels may be behind the attacks on him and his property. He’s not sure whether the attacks are politically based, or are more personal, having to do with his wife. The two have a great working relationship, and develop almost a friendship. The issue is, inside, Christopher is really a woman, and that woman finds herself physically attracted to Marcus. And that attraction causes a physical reaction of arousal in her male body, which he/she has to battle constantly.
As the investigations proceed, Christopher finds himself changing into various animal shapes to follow leads that he couldn’t pursue as a human. Twists in the story finally allow Christopher the opportunity to meet Marcus in his true form of Charlotte. Since she has been badly desiring Marcus, she isn’t hesitant about offering him a night of passion, which soon turns to many nights. Eventually, Marcus and Christopher find themselves in a dangerous situation, where only Christopher’s turning into a bear can save them. Marcus is horrified. When he later notices the similarities in the actions of Christopher and Charlotte, and realizes they are the same person, he is disgusted, and throws Christopher out.
UNMASKING MISS APPLEBY is one of the most fascinating, unique, and well written books I have read. I really dislike stories where women masquerade as men, as I can never imagine that anyone would be fooled. Yet, the concept of a woman actually becoming a man is a whole new scenario. Charlotte’s and Marcus’ thoughts and feelings are so well portrayed by Emily Larkin. I just wish that the author had chosen to have Christopher have to genuinely deal with his male arousal, rather than the solution that was portrayed. Also, for a twenty-five year old educated, intelligent woman, Charlotte was almost unbelievably naïve about sexual matters. Despite these two things, this was an amazing, sexy, and enthralling book. I was captivated by the story and read it in one sitting. This one goes on my favorites list of 2016, and I will be looking up Emily Larkin’s backlist. I love this one and highly recommend it.