Friday Book Review – Notorious Pleasures

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Since I can’t remember any of the admittedly few Romances I (think) I read in middle school, it’s safe to say that Elizabeth Hoyt was one of the first Romance  authors I read. Courtney Milan is the other. I was pretty lukewarm about the first book in the Maiden Lane series, where most of my enjoyment was predicated on side characters whom I knew would get their own books, and the setting. The character I most wanted to see have her own book was Silence. Maybe if I had read Silence’s book when I wanted to and then come back to Notorious Pleasures, I might have liked NP better? I don’t know.

I read it in September, and I don’t particularly remember it now. I do remember that it took me a few minutes to remember who Hero Batten was, and part of the memory that came back said, “Oh yeah, her.” Which loosely translates to MEH. Summary time.

Lady Hero Batten has to marry a man whom she finds dull and just plain uninspiring as regards marital relations. However, she has a bigger problem: she falls for his rakish brother. But her future is dependent on the marriage. Her brother is an obnoxious dictator who will basically disown her if she doesn’t marry this guy, and apparently the rake has already seduced one actual wife away from his brother. So there’s some family drama for you.

It was hard to get a bead on Hero. Some heroines are a little too gimmicky or easily labelled, but Hero sort of just… falls between the cracks. She’ll start to come off as or called mousey, then the impression will fade. She isn’t emotionally troubled, nor is loyalty to or love of family significant backbones of her personality. The obstacle keeping her and Griffin apart is believable, but insufficient. It also didn’t lend her character more character. Really, I don’t know what her character or development really were. I rather suspect that she didn’t undergo any growth as a character, because what it took to overcome the difficulties was something she had the whole time. And not in an Oz kind of way. She had it, and she exercised it often. She just didn’t exercise it to end the romantic conflict until the end.

Griffin is slightly better. He has a bad reputation that he’s earned, as well as one that he doesn’t deserve. Like most well-to-do men, he seems to have nothing to do but entertain women and run around after Hero as soon as he’s aware of her. His relationship with his friend Nick Barnes was moving. But he doesn’t really change any more than Hero does. They are both much the same at the end as they were at the beginning. Except for being in love. This probably counts as a major strike, almost objectively.

There is a story going on, and it does affect the characters. But only the circumstances change. People solve problems, yes, but one of the major problems has a solution that seems like something Griffin should have already thought of, and all Hero actually did was make him feel guilty enough to get off his arse and do it.

There’s still some stuff going on in St Giles, thanks mostly to GIN, but it takes a backseat to the family drama and incredibly steamy sex scenes. There is also, of course, the expected Hoyt fairy tale, but it’s one of the weaker ones. Possibly because of the lack in character growth, Queen Ravenhair manages to sound like an almost generic fairy tale and has no real link to the narrative. Still, Hoyt’s understanding of fairy tales is always nice. Shades of Andrew Lang, and all that.

This one was not a re-read for me. However, I freely admit that I may have liked it better if Hero had grabbed my attention more in book one, or if I had just not been so keen for Silence’s book.

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