Notorious Rating: 2.75/5
Notorious Synopsis: When Drusilla Claire finds herself in a compromising situation she finds herself betrothed to her best friend’s older stepbrother, Gabriel, a notorious rake. Beyond the problems of alleged mistresses, his questionable heritage, and a potential duel, Drusilla is concerned for her heart. She’s been infatuated with Gabriel since she first met him five years ago and the only reason he’s even with her is by no choice of her own.
I liked the book and then I also didn’t like the book, if that makes sense. I’m a sucker for enemies-to-lovers especially when one is the best friend’s older brother and add a forced marriage! The first two chapters were really good and got me hooked, but the rest of the book didn’t develop from there. I found the book to lack any depth, had a questionable approach to Gabriel, and provided a lackluster romance. I wanted to like it though! I’m honestly conflicted on whether I like it or not. I like the premise and parts of the novel, but how Spencer took on Gabriel just makes me hesitant to say that I liked it.
- Plot: So this is a sorta like situation. I like the premise of the novel, a woman stuck in a compromising situation with the man who has her heart saving her and them falling in love. Great! Perfect! Add in some interesting side plots, lovely. However, when there failed to be any conversation between characters with any sort of movement of interest or vulnerability I had some issues. I did enjoy many of the plot twists and slow reveal of backstories among the characters.
- Gabriel: I liked Gabriel the most of all the characters. I really felt for him as he was only half British and the ton looked down upon him. He gave up so much of his heritage to acclimate to the hostile Britains and they gave nothing but gossip and disdain in return. I had some issues with the portrayal of Gabriel as he was supposed to be half-Algerian, but those are stated below. His character had some questionable moments for sure, but overall I liked him. He was fine.
- Gabriel: This isn’t so much about his character, but about the portrayal of his character. He’s half-Algerian, specifically from Oran (yes, it’s a real place. It’s a port city on the coast of the Mediterranean.). And he’s supposed to be the son of a sultan, but his mother is the daughter of a Duke. How that happened, idk. Regardless, there were no sultans in Algeria during this time. Especially over a city. Algeria was under Ottoman rule from 1792 to 1830, so the Ottoman Sultan would have ruled. And the “governors” of the regions weren’t called sultans. I felt like the author did a little research and then perpetuated stereotypes for her creation of the characters and backstory. Ignoring the lack of historical support, there’s also the issue of the wording used with Gabriel. There’s a pretty consistent use of terms like barbarian and exotic and he’s constantly “out for blood” and such. Like I get that he would have dealt with some pretty big issues being half-Algerian with the ton, but for the author to continuously use and perpetrate these things even in his point of view. No thank you. Furthermore, in regards to his character I would have appreciated a more sympathetic lead, especially when he has the secrets he does around Drusilla. Also, let’s all be honest here Gabriel would not have piercing green eyes. He’d probably have brown eyes.
- Drusilla: I honestly didn’t notice she was a main character in the book. Her parts got redundant and I needed her to do something. I get that your pining over your husband who will never love you, but you’ve also been nothing but a frigid bitch to him. Like there’s so few cracks in her when they interact I’m not shocked it took Gabriel so long to like her. If she would have gotten out of her head a lot sooner I think that there could have been some good adult conversations and a more convincing romance. Also, she’s supposed to be a supporter of all these questionable programs, but not once did she discuss why. There’s literally so little conversation about these programs that I forgot that’s why men didn’t want to marry her. It was a lot of tell and not show.
- Romance: There’s sex and there’s a declaration of love, but romance??? Not really. It goes from them being quite horrible to each other, stuck in their heads to having sex. But it felt like the only reason Gabriel did was because he wanted to have sex, but would only have it with his wife. As for Drusilla? It is her duty. There’s little pining or conversation between the two. I honestly can’t pinpoint the moment when Gabriel is like, huh, I think I like my wife or when Drusilla decides that perhaps talking to her husband is a good way of letting him know how you feel!
Long Story Short
Do I recommend Notorious? Honestly, I don’t know. Part of me says yes because there are really interesting points in it. Even with all of the issues surrounding how Gabriel is presented it’s hard to find diversity in historical romance, so this is a win of sorts. I don’t know if I would recommend it just for that though. I know the next book is coming about about Eva (Drusilla’s friend and Gabriel’s stepsister) so maybe that will convince me otherwise. If you do read it, just be aware of the issues.
I purchased my own copy from my local bookstore.
Here is the Amazon Link (I am NOT affiliated with Amazon)
Are you looking forward to reading Duchess If You Dare? What other historical romances are catching your attention? Let me know. I’ve been in a historical romance kick lately!
Another great read historical romance novel is coming out on March 30, 2021, Duchess If You Dare. This story features a fiercely independent Annabelle and an incredibly proper Duke Ambrose as they solve the mystery of missing women. My review for this novel is here.