A Reputation for Notoriety (Harlequin Historical Series #1141) - Diane Gaston

Oooooh, a book with some of my favorite elements in Historical Romance ~ gambling hells and masquerades. Exciting! Titillating even!

Unfortunately, A Reputation for Notoriety fails to live up the title and the book blurb.

This isn’t to say that this isn’t a good, well written book. It is, it’s just not as edgy as you’d think.

**Warning, though I don't reveal exact plot points, there are some very minor spoilerish stuff in here**

Rhys is a good character and a good man. His straightforward, shoot from the hip dialogue is welcome and his take charge attitude is one of the reasons I read romance in the first place – I love a man who knows what he’s doing. He treats women with respect and has worked hard to pull himself from near starvation. I’m not sure where his notorious reputation comes to play though, and there’s the rub with the blurb and the title. My expectations were not met, hence a loss of a star.

Celia is a widow with a problem. She’s penniless and has to support these two yahoos, her step-daughter, Adele and her mother-in-law, the Dowager Lady Gale. The most brilliant thing I can say about Celia is that she is a match for Rhys in terms of personality, and some of the best moments in the book were when they were arguing. They lay it all out there, which is nice. How many times in a romance do you think to yourself, “Why don’t you just say what needs to be said already!!”.

Some of my biggest problems with this book where the lesser characters. Namely Ned and Adele. Their side romance was blooming into something that was truly lovely and encouraging. Until those characters turned 180 degrees after the books plot twist. Adele turns into a whiny, simpering child and Ned wholly approves and encourages this behavior…worse, he finds it endearing. Yuck. And there are truly atrocious beings like Lord Westleigh and Dowager Gale in the mix. Even the presumed hero of the next book, Xavier, doesn’t occur to me as someone I particularly care reading about again.

Rhys and Celia are a lite version of the star-crossed lover theme. Fans of books where characters overcome cross-class issues and their own circumstances and past will like this book.