On its surface, Notorious
is a sexy Regency Romance... a battle of wills between two former lovers with conflicting agendas. But underneath, it's a story of loss, regret, and self-realization. It is, in turns, sad, steamy, frustrating, and rewarding.
Devlin and his sister Chessie have always had to scrape to make ends meet. But they finally seem to have a comfortable future in their grasp. Devlin is engaged to a wealthy woman of the Ton. He doesn't love her, but he is pragmatic about the marriage. Chessie is in love with a wealthy peer named Fritz. And while they are not betrothed, he has been seriously courting her for some time.
All their grand plans go out the window, however, when Devlin's former wife shows up with an eye for Fritz. (No one knows that she has really been hired by Fritz's parents to lure him away from Chessie.) Devlin is floored by her presence. She abandoned him nine years ago, the morning after they wed... and he has thought her dead for years. It turns out that Susanna left him in an act of innocent self-sacrifice, but she lets him believe the worst of her, to keep him away. Of course, that doesn't work.
For two people who consider themselves puppetmasters of other people's emotions, there are very real feelings between these two. It's kind of ironic that their initial parting is what hardened them both in so many ways. But when they are together, they are unable to maintain the walls they have worked so hard to build around their hearts.
As more and more of Susanna's backstory is revealed, the story grows heavier and heavier. She has been through so much... and to a lesser extent, so has Devlin. Their past heartbreak is set against their flirting and fighting in the present day. And it doesn't just make me ache for them to give in to their mutual attraction, but makes me beg for them to find a little bit of peace and real happiness. Unfortunately, their financial positions make any hopes of a happily ever after seem unlikely, if not impossible.
It was a good love story with a surprising depth. But on a side note, I have to say I had a hard time relating to Chessie and the choices she makes. The resolution of her arc left me scratching my head a little.
This is book four in the Scandalous Women of the Ton series. I haven't read the previous books, and though Devlin's uncle Grant and his wife were featured in an earlier book, I never felt lost.
*ARC Provided by NetGalley
by Nicola Cornick
Release Date: July 19, 2011
Labels: ARC, by Jen, Historical Romance, Nicola Cornick