A Notorious Love
Although the story of the gently bred lady and the low born man who fall in love is not a new one, I found the main characters in A Notorious Love set apart from the rest. Just one example is that they’ve met and interacted before the book opens, although that hasn’t exactly set them on each other’s good graces.
Helena Laverick’s sister, Juliet, has eloped with Will Morgan, but Helena believes that something more sinister has actually happened as she believes Will is not to be trusted. The only person Helena can ask for help is Daniel Brennan. This is truly a desperate choice given not only that Daniel courted her under false pretenses in the past, but that Daniel was part of a band of smugglers. Daniel is not all that inclined to help Helena, particularly when she makes it clear that she intends to go with him as he tries to find Juliet and Will. As they set on their way to find clues as to where Will might have taken Juliet, Daniel begins to unravel who Will Morgan really is, and what is really going on behind the “elopement.”
Daniel’s past comes back to haunt him, with consequences for Helena’s family. He has tried to be as honest about his past as possible, even if he doesn’t exactly set Helena right on all the details of his involvement with the smugglers. That said, all the honesty in the world can’t save Daniel this time, and he decides that, since he’ll never be free of his past, he cannot have Helena in his future; though he loves her, he will not have her tainted by their association. What Helena minds is not exactly Daniel’s past in and of itself, but that he would conceal things from her when she has trusted him so far with such an important mission. Several characters come into play when Daniel and Helena finally face the people responsible for all this, and the pair must deal with them not only to recover Juliet but to resolve their own differences.
Helena suffers the burden of knowing her father, the Earl of Swanlea, is a fake, in addition to the problem of having a lame leg. She knows that in the brutal, image-conscious society she lives in, it would be difficult to find someone who’d see past all that, and she refuses to consider that any man could really be attracted to her. Daniel’s pretend-courtship of the summer before only adds to how she sees herself; she cannot see the worthy woman she really is.
A Notorious Love makes for a good story, but there are a couple of minor points that should be mentioned. While “make-up sex” has long been a staple of romance novels (and is even featured in an hilarious episode of Seinfeld), I didn’t really like that an argument was “resolved” with lovemaking, that sex would be the way for Daniel to prove he was sorry. Also, I could have done with fewer references to Daniel’s “John Thomas,” “St. Peter,” and “pego.” Finally, though Daniel’s past and its impact on his present life was surely intriguing, but I figured out who the true villain was the moment the character was mentioned.
You’ll need some suspension of disbelief to read this book, but the characters were enjoyable and the action never lagged. I liked Helena and Daniel’s journey enough to go looking for the first book in this trilogy, A Dangerous Love, and I’ll be looking forward to the final installment in the trilogy.