If you’ve read – or even just heard about – Reputation, you’ll probably know whether or not Lex Croucher’s latest, Regency-ish New Adult historical will please your older teen. Infamous contains all of the drug abuse, sexual assault, racism, abuse, on-page makeouts leading to off-page sex, and rowdy (and anachronistic) party-hearty behavior of the previous book. The language will not fit. No one will worry about social standings or how they will be supported in the future. I like Croucher’s characters and I have fun reading her books, but this time out her central character just grated on me.
Edith – Eddie – Miller wants to be a writer, and will use a nom-de-plume if she needs to in order to be published. She practices her prose – and her kissing – on Rose Li, her best friend since they were children. But the girls aren’t kids anymore. They’re twenty-year-old women, which means it’s time to enter the marriage mart – at least for Rose, who faces the possibility of marriage with equanimity rather than enthusiasm (and her suitor is not that bad of a fellow). Eddie is horrified that Rose is seriously considering getting hitched and wants to break up their near lifelong sense of closeness.
While Rose finds a perfectly nice possible husband, Eddie tries to convince her there’s more to life than getting married. To wit, she pursues the mad, bad and dangerous to know poet/author Nash Nicholson, agreeing to go to his country estate for a wild house party that will make her forget all about her problems, and takes Rose with her. Eddie begins to launch a career and make connections, even though Nash is particularly pushy. But the more time Rose and Eddie spend together, the more absurd living separate lives becomes to them both. But can they have love and literary ambition to boot?
The boozy haze, the social whirl, and the romantic tension here will be familiar to Croucher’s fans, but Infamous is a weaker novel than its predecessor, and it does not bother to imagine what life might be like for an Asian girl trying to make her way in society, boiling everything down to incidents of racism which at least dish out consequences to the perpetrators.
And I couldn’t help but see Rose’s views on marriage as entirely reasonable, which caused me to dislike Eddie. As for Eddie… oh, Eddie. I loved your spirit and lack of conformity, but I hated your total inability to behave like an adult. She’s short-sighted and obstinate, and I couldn’t stand having to be in her brainspace for very long. She treats Rose poorly and with selfishness, and her apologies do not wash in the end. Rose, meanwhile, deserves the world, and does not get it. This was one romance I couldn’t root for.
Nash is your traditional Byronesque D-bag whom I resented spending so much time with, and the parents are Croucher-typical bohemians who are concerned but not concerned enough about their offspring. Everything gets rushed along with a quickie epilogue that desperately needed more time to grow.
But the spirited writing pulls this up to a C. Croucher is good at this kind of lighthearted, Sofia Coppola Marie Antoinette feeling. But Infamous is inferior to Reputation and will probably disappoint its legion of fans.
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier
|Review Date:||March 25, 2023|
|Book Type:||Historical Romance | New Adult|
Sounds like one big yuck of a book
I say again: why bother to write a book set in the past and then completely disregard the conventions of the time? It makes absolutely no sense and even smacks of opportunism.
“How do I sell my book about badly behaving teens when it’s the same as all the other books about badly behaving teens out there? I know! I’ll put them in pretty dresses and breeches, then the readers will think I’m doing something edgy and different! Yay me!!”
Like with Croucher I am prepared for and used to it, so I don’t consider it an egregious act at this point.