A historical romance, to my thinking, is just the right and the best kind of narrative to explore sexuality, what with its prissy female characters, strict rules of propriety to break, and wickedly rake gentlemen, but if you toss in some issue of insecurity, then it’ll be a blast. That is pretty much what Sabrina Jeffries presents in A Notorious Love, the second book of her Swanlea Spinsters series. Beginning months after the first story ended, it invites you to look on the journey the two main characters, Lady Helena Laverick and Daniel Brennan, are going through in an attempt to save her sister, while, in between, saving herself from a loveless, lonely life. Unlike its predecessor, A Notorious Love is not full of hatred and vengeful atmosphere, but it is guaranteed to wrench at your heart even more and make you fall in love with the gallant hero.
While Griff Knighton and Lady Rosalind are going on their honeymoon, an unexpected disaster falls upon the Laverick family in Swan Park. Lady Juliet, the youngest girl, has eloped with a mysterious, unknown man whom Lady Helena believes to be a fortune hunter, or worse. At her wits’ end, she then comes to Daniel Brennan, Griff Knighton’s former man of affairs, for help. Daniel’s notorious reputation as an erstwhile smuggler is the only guarantee Helena has to track and find her running sister. As much as her heart is still hurting after what happened in Swan Park last summer, and albeit she has to risk her own reputation in society, Helena has no choice. Saving her sister is more important than keeping her distance from someone who has deceitfully toyed with her feelings.
Daniel cannot bring himself to say no to Helena’s fervent request. And even though it is very much dangerous especially for a noble lady like Helena to come along, he has no choice but bringing her with him. On the road, the sparkling feeling between them, which has been swept away since Griff married Rosalind and Daniel went back to London, starts to ooze again. It’s not that they do not realize it, but they stubbornly smother it. However, being together, their flaring desire and longing cannot be clamped shut no matter how hard they grip them and keep them locked in one part of their lying hearts.
A Notorious Love has as much interesting characters as A Dangerous Love. Daniel and Helena might not trigger the reader’s hatred towards them,but they are not ordinary characters, either. Like her sister Rosalind, Helena is portrayed having a physical lack, only hers is worse by far. Her deformity, and her painfully broken heart, stop her from believing in love and in any man. The strict rules of propriety she strongly holds with iron fists seem to be only her shield to protect her already fragile heart and to shut her life close. Her unforgiving and untrusting nature seem to be merely her weapon to hide her insecurity. But Daniel Brennan is a gallant hero, in every single way a man could be. If I am to describe him in one sentence, I would use one of his dialogues in which he says:
“A man is what he is, no fancy lodgings or fine clothes will change that.”
He may not a filthy, stinking rich man who has everything, but he is certainly a hard worker. He is not a man who spoils the woman he loves with luxury, but he can naturally understand her. And, in addition, he is so funny and gentle, a nature every woman loves to cherish.
Following Daniel and Helena’s journey was not only amusing and a lot of fun, but also encouraged me to think. At some point in the story, my mind got boggled at the conversation occurred between them. Sabrina Jeffries has proved herself to be a romance writer with a sharp wit and great sense of humor, but she never leaves her works dried of lessons to learn. She doesn’t try to be a smart aleck, so she wraps all the meaningful dialogues up in a blanket of jokes and amusing scenes so the reader won’t feel that she’s trying to preach. I cannot say that she is a genius at making a storyline, for A Notorious Love doesn’t have quite a good plot, but she never fails to tug at the reader’s heartstrings with her wonderful stories and deep, complicated characters. Jeffries is also adept in twisting words and idioms linguistically, which is very much fun and smart of her. All those amazing skills are compiled into this one great romance novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A Notorious Love is not just another fun bodice-ripper novel to light your day with its explicit sexuality and romantic love story, it has something more. Never before I read a love story as mind-blowing as A Notorious Love. It’s a complete novel in some ways, putting aside its awkward plot. What’s more, it has awesome classic poems and ballads at the beginning of each chapter to represent its particular scenes. So, I highly recommend this book to anyone, not only to historical romance readers, but also to those who want to try one.