My Lady Notorious by Jo Beverley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Warning: This isn't really a review. It's a rant, and therefore it's full of spoilers.
This book had an interesting premise - a strong heroine who disguises herself as a boy and "kidnaps" the charming hero in order to help her widowed sister - and I was fully expecting to enjoy it, but somehow it didn't work that well for me.
I loved the beginning of the book, when I got to know the somewhat flighty Cyn Malloren and the Notorious Chastity Ware. Since she was in disguise, he didn't know who she really was but he knew she was a woman and not the lad "Charles" she pretended to be, so he was instantly "smitten". She was also attracted to him but, alas, they couldn't really act on their feelings because she was a "he" - or so she thought he thought her to be, and he didn't want to reveal he wasn't fooled by her disguise. That deception provided some funny banter between them and Cyn had a lot of fun teasing "Charles". Unfortunately, that got old after a while because the author chose to drag that scenario for more than half the story. At one point, I found myself alternating between yelling at Cyn to tell her "Fun's over, love, I know you're a woman" and yelling at Chastity to tell him "Hey, guess what, I'm actually a woman".
But they didn't listen to me... The "secret" was not even revealed when they had sex for the first time. Again, she donned another disguise - she was "Chloe" now - and, although he knew who she was, he didn't say anything. The whole thing just felt "wrong" to me, when it should have been romantic. And the "before" and "after" their interlude only added an ick factor to it. *shudders*
See, their "lovemaking" - and I use that term loosely because I didn't feel any "love" there - happened during an orgy party hosted by one of Cyn's friends. Why the author felt the need to include an orgy in the story was beyond me, but that wasn't the worst part. The worst was having Chastity's brother Fort grab and kiss her as if she was one of the tarts invited to provide amusement to the party. He didn't know who she was - she was disguised as "Chloe", remember? - but she knew who he was, and I still don't know how he didn't end up wearing the contents of her stomach after that kiss. "Eew" doesn't begin to describe my feelings while I was reading that scene.
Then we had what happened "after" Cyn and Chastity's "lovemaking"... Right after leaving Cyn in the bedroom, Chastity ran into Cyn's brother Rothgar and, wow, he kissed her too! And I'm not talking about a peck, I'm talking about an open-mouthed kiss with tongues and all. WTF?!? When the orgy party was finally over, I was scratching my head and trying to figure out if I wanted to keep reading the book, because I didn't particularly like any of the characters, not even Cyn and Chastity, at that point.
As I'm stubborn as a mule, I kept reading and, incredibly, the story got better after those events and the book picked up its pace. But I felt like I was reading a different book, one where Rothgar, and not Cyn, was the hero. Rothgar just took the story over with his convoluted machinations, and Cyn was left to play an errand boy to his older brother. Chastity started having more "screen time" with Rothgar than with Cyn, and I wouldn't have been surprised if she had ended up with the older brother. They did have good chemistry between them, and that wasn't a good thing as the hero of this book was Cyn!
The ending was as convoluted as Rothgar's machinations, with everything and everyone falling into place according to his plan. It was so OTT that I had to reread it to follow all the weird "coincidences" that made the HEA possible.
While I didn't enjoy the story itself due to all its quirkiness and slow pace, especially in the first half of the book, I loved Cyn (except when he went all judgmental and cold toward Chastity during that darn orgy party), I cared for Chastity (enough to want to kill her father myself), and I thought Ms. Beverley's writing was good at making me feel the ambiance where the story took place, no matter how uncomfortable it was for me.
So I didn't love this book, which was a pity, but I didn't hate it either. Am I going to read the rest of the series? I'm not sure. Rothgar was the only secondary character I found interesting in this book, and "everyone" says his book is disappointing so I'd rather stick with the picture I have of him now. Am I going to read any other books by this author? Possibly, but I'm not running to the bookstore to get them.
View all my reviews