Review: Notorious (Rebels of the Ton #1) (ARC)

Expected publication: November 24th 2020, 352 pages

Author: Minerva Spencer

The cure for a willful wife…

Drusilla Clare is full of opinions about why a woman shouldn’t marry. But that doesn’t stop the rush of desire she feels each time her best friend’s brother, notorious rake Gabriel Marlington, crosses her path. So imagine her dismay when she finds herself in the clutches of a scoundrel, only to be rescued by Gabriel himself. And when Gabriel’s heartless—and heart-pounding—proposal comes, it’s enough to make Dru’s formidable resolve crumble…

…is a smitten husband.

She’s sharp-tongued, exasperating—and due to one careless moment—about to become his wife. Still, something about Drusilla has Gabriel intrigued. First there’s the delicious flush of her skin every time she delivers a barb—and then the surprisingly sensual feel of her in his arms. Gabriel even finds himself challenged by her unusual philosophies. And when he discovers a clandestine rival for Dru’s affection, his temperature flares even hotter. But the real threat to their happiness is one neither of the newlyweds sees coming. If they’re to save their future—and their very lives—they’ll need to trust in each other and their growing love. 

A Regency-era romance with some Jane Austen vibes mixed with more adult situations. There are pieces of Jane Austen’s Emma and Pride and Prejudice, especially with aspects of both main characters. The characters in this novel are from the author’s other “Outcasts” series, with Dangerous acting as a prequel for Notorious. I read this novel without any previous knowledge of the other novels so readers won’t have any problems understanding the main events occurring in this novel. 

Drusilla Clare is in her early twenties and finds herself in the midst of the Season where endless balls and engagements are taking place as those without romantic partners are on the search for a mate and those with current partners participate in the social scene. She is similar to the character Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice with her sharper wit and her love of her best friend, Eva, who is similar to a sister to her. She is also similar to the character Emma as she does not currently have a huge interest in marrying, but enjoys the spectacle of watching those around her (although it’s not as if there are a ton of options in line to ask her even for a dance).  Unlike in Emma where the main character doesn’t realize her romantic feelings for her friend that’s always around, in this case, Drusilla knows that she is in love with Eva’s step-brother Gabriel, who typically acts as their chaperone to events.

Gabriel Marlington is from Oran who has assimilated into English society. He’s well-liked among the ladies and gentlemen are weary of him. He is completely oblivious to Drusilla’s feelings toward him as she bickers with him and makes jabs to the point where he thinks she truly dislikes him.  When Gabriel’s enemy, Lord Visel, finds himself in a compromising position with Drusilla, Gabriel finds the only way for them to remain in society is for Gabriel and Drusilla to marry. This premise sets up the rest of the story as the two of them navigate revealing more of themselves to each other and married life.

There are a lot of obstacles to overcome with Gabe’s numerous mistresses and his standards that there is no problem with men having them while married.  He also has his romantic interest, Miss Kittridge, who was also interested in him, and they were courting this Season. Drusilla also has her own admirers and her determination to continue working with her charities. Not to mention Lord Visel continues to loom even after the two of them marry. Finally, there is the main obstacle as these two aren’t great at communicating with each other and it takes them a long time to even discuss anything with each other without clashing.

The writing style was super interesting as you would be in the middle of an event and then a flashback took place in the next paragraph which detailed the backstory that helps the reader understand the thought process behind the original point. The very first time it occurred, I was taken by surprise, but by the end it was just a part of the natural flow of the story and was easy to keep up with.  The points of view change within the chapters, as well as at the start of each chapter, between our two main characters so the reader is able to gain a better insight into not only what each of them is thinking, but also the backstories and current events that each of them has/had gone through.

Both Gabe and Dru grew on me as characters as I wasn’t a huge fan of either in the beginning. Dru was just mean sometimes when it came to Gabe which is understandable when you’re constantly trying to hide your true self from him, but at some point you’d think she’d let her guard down at least a little way before it actually took place in the book. As for Gabe, he is fairly typical for the era when it comes to his reactions to Dru constantly pushing him away and he is trying to navigate everything going on outside of his marriage. They both navigate a marriage of convenience (one troupe that I greatly enjoy reading) as they approach it in proper style of their characters and try to make it work while staying true to their personalities. Their romance does develop slowly so it is a slow burn in a sense as you, as a reader, can get anxious for them to begin loving each other and expressing it. However, the pace fits well with the era and made sense for the novel.

The novel picks up really quickly towards the end when a huge event takes place that must be taken care of in a timely fashion. This portion, therefore, feels very rushed, and mainly serves as both a final conflict and also as a set-up for the next book. As a word of caution, some of the storylines are set-up in this story and won’t be concluded/continued until the next novel.  This was a little frustrating to me, but it wasn’t completely unexpected as you know this is the start of a series before you even open it up to the first page. I honestly can’t wait for Outrageous, the following novel in the series, to see what happens next!

Overall, this novel was entertaining and enthralling as I find it hard to put down. The romance between the two feels a little off as their connection seems very sexual based rather than a true bond. It’s there, but not as much as I would expect in this type of story. However, I loved reading their journey and I hope they are featured in future novels in the series so we can see how they continue to progress as a couple. There’s a lot to keep track of in this story, but it’s not impossible to keep track of and understand. I highly recommend this to any fans of the genre (and those wanting to give it a try)!

**Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC and chance to read. Opinions expressed are completely my own.**

4 thoughts on “Review: Notorious (Rebels of the Ton #1) (ARC)

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