Notorious (2020)

by Minerva Spencer
ISBN: 9781496732835
Publication date: November 24, 2020
Series: Rebels of the Ton #1

**I received a copy of the book through Netgalley for an honest review.**

At her age, Drusilla is considered an old spinster. It also doesn’t help that she is an independent, progressive woman who has no plans to get married. Plans change, however, after her reputation is tarnished and she becomes engaged to her best friend’s brother to protect it.

The book is generally written well. There are a few surprises that made for an interesting story and allows the reader to keep pressing forward to find out what will happen next. Many readers will find this to be an enjoyable book because it does have its moments, but I do not think it was a good fit for me. I had high expectations for the novel but was left disappointed. It became difficult to finish reading when it was clear Drusilla was relegated to a supporting character in Gabriel’s story as opposed to sharing a leading role with him. He often dictated and she had to respond to him.

The summary of the book paints Drusilla as a liberal thinker, shunning the expectations of marriage and creating a group that takes up social causes. In the first half of the book, she at least seems to be that person. She banters with Gabriel while trying to hide her feelings about him. She doesn’t mind that people are aware of her ideologies. By the second half of the book, she is boxed into the role of a wife and the independent thinking woman disappears. The Drusilla we are left with is one who pines after Gabriel and who continually reminds herself that he doesn’t love her. So much unnecessary angst and frustration for the characters and the reader could have been prevented had Drusilla and Gabriel just talked to one another.

Outside of the bedroom, the most we get from Drusilla is excitement when Gabriel accompanies her to the seamstress. We see a spark of who she used to be toward the end, but by that time I was already frustrated. It was infuriating to see her turn into one of her greatest fears. She stopped standing up for herself, going so far as to take the blame for some of Gabriel’s flare ups and hardly ever demanding an apology. We don’t see her do anything about the social causes she claimed to care about despite her insistence earlier on that she be able to continue to do so should she and Gabriel be married.

Then the book shifts focus to Gabriel, despite alternating viewpoints, leaving us to accept this new version of Drusilla. If there is one thing that I dislike, it is how female leads like Drusilla go from independent to complacent as soon as they are paired up, which feels completely out of character. I would have been more understanding had I seen it coming, and the expectation was that she would change for marriage. The argument could be made that it was the time period and this should have been expected, but Drusilla verbally fought against this. After giving up on Drusilla, I found Eva becoming an interesting character but by the time she became interesting, the book was already coming to an end.

Individuals may be able to pick Notorious up and enjoy it, especially if this is a time period that is of interest to them. It is fast-paced, filled with unexpected twists. On the other hand, if individuals are looking for a strong, independent female lead promised in the summary, they may be left disappointed. I’ll be honest, I had high expectations for this book and I’m still reeling from the disappointment.

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