I’ve really been in the mood for romances recently, so bear with me if they aren’t your thing – I’ll be back to fantasy soon! In the meantime, here’s a romance with a mystery that I really enjoyed.
Book: Lady Notorious by Theresa Romain
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC provided by NetGalley free of charge for fair review. All opinions my own.
I don’t always enjoy when a historical romance tries to add other strings to its bow, such as a murder mystery. Here, though, the mystery worked well, and was nicely balanced with the unfolding of the plot. Cass, our leading lady, is a private investigator and unofficial Bow Street Runner, who is hired by Lord Oliver Northbrook to try to solve a case that involves murder, old ties, and a whole lot of money. Of course, the two of them find each other fairly irresistible, and what I liked about this story was that they weren’t forced to keep investigating while their relationship made things awkward; rather, they were refreshingly honest with one another, and the mystery didn’t suffer for the sake of drama.
I loved how confident and capable Cass was – I’ve mentioned in other reviews that I like a heroine with a bit of gumption, and Cass has that in spades. Oliver falls for her almost instantly (in fact, I’m fairly certain he liked her before he hired her), and the main drama in their relationship comes from her worries about her loss of independence, rather than any particular problems between them. They have excellent chemistry together, and I appreciated that their conversations had natural-feeling teasing in, rather than the overly-arch banter that can often pass for flirting in romance novels. These two, quite simply, like each other.
Part of the mystery plot involves Cass masquerading as Oliver’s scandalous cousin – the Lady Notorious of the title – and this was really good fun. I would have liked to have seen a little more of Cass being scandalous among the ton – this was so funny in the one scene she did get, and I could definitely have tolerated more of her sarcastic remarks about the people who had previously cut her! Cass’s background is far from this aristocratic life, and her new pretend life is well-contrasted to the simple, often dangerous life she has previously had. I liked how her twin brother acted as a foil to her new life, and I would expect he was being set up to be the hero of his own book if certain events hadn’t transpired!
Overall, Lady Notorious is a lot of fun, with likeable, believable characters and a plot that’s just the right end of silly. It’s very much a romp! Four out of five cats.