The most interesting and appealing thing about this book is that it did not follow what I’ve come to realize is the traditional romance plot structure. I thought I knew exactly how this book was going to go. I was completely wrong, and I loved it all the more for it.
Charity/Robin is not a transgender man. Instead, she is a nonbinary character who has come to realize that she feels truer to herself in a man’s world (especially in this time period) and has embraced that role in order to help her “sister” Louisa make a good marriage match. The “deception” is delightful rather than angsty. The revelation that she was born female comes much earlier in the story than I expected, and was not the primary rift between her and the other romantic lead, Alistair, the marquess of the book’s title.
In fact, the major conflict of the book is not between Charity/Robin and Alistair, but between the pair and society’s expectations of them. I love complex political stuff, and ridiculous London society rules were just as fun to wade through. It was refreshing to read a romance and feel total support for both characters rather than wanting to smack one or both of them upside the head for the latter half of the story.
The secondary characters are fun and well-rounded. I’d also love to read a follow-up short story that shows Robin and Alistair’s happily ever after.
For more explanation of my use of names and pronouns in this review, be sure not to miss Sebastian’s excellent author note at the end of the book.