[Book Review] Unmasking Miss Appleby

Unmasking Miss Appleby (Baleful Godmother #1) / Emily Larkin

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…

Likely unsurprising confession here: I'm a sucker for all manner of gender-swap stories.  So when I went looking for something light and fun to read, this definitely looked to fit the bill... and it delivered.

I have some quibbles with it.  I'm so fed up with the bleeding virgin plot gimmick... and the ways it is executed here are particularly ridiculous (in one case it involves at least day old blood on a handkerchief, the other involves a someone who can shapeshift so I'm pretty sure if she was set on deceit faking an unbroken hymen wouldn't be hard).  I can't really argue at Cosgrove's freakout in response to discovering that his male secretary and the young lady he has become enamored with are one in the same.  What he says and how he acts is upsetting... but it's also rather true to form within a structured society and mindset regarding gender and sexuality.

But there's a lot to like here, and I particularly like the aspect of a resentful fairy godmother.  The relationships develop playfully, and the clues to discover who is threatening Cosgrove are well threaded.  It's a fun light fantasy, historical romance read.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Red Adept Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.

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