A Notorious Love, by Sabrina Jeffries

>> Thursday, March 04, 2004

A Notorious Love, by Sabrina Jeffries, is the second in the Swanlea Spinsters series. I've read the first, A Dangerous Love, and liked it. I was pretty intrigued by two secondary characters, Daniel and Helena, who star in this one.

Lady Helena Laverick is at her wits' end! The only man who can help her find her eloping young sister is that scoundrel Daniel Brennan—the man who played with her emotions last summer and then left. And he used to be a smuggler! Although Mrs. Nunley's Guide to Etiquette for Young Ladies would never approve, Helena is forced to go after the runaway in Daniel's company. But something about being with him feels oddly freeing—and a delicious tingle warns Helena that more than her reputation may be in danger. . .

Daniel finds most of the prim lady's rules ridiculous—but when she has to masquerade as his wife for appearance's sake, he immediately envisions the delights of sharing a bedchamber. The unexpected passion smoldering beneath her proper exterior ignites his desire, and the vulnerability hidden beneath her cool control makes him want her even more. Yet Helena's a lady, and he's the son of a highwayman. How can he ask her to share his world?
I don't know what it is about Sabrina Jeffries, but all her novels draw me in immediately and keep me reading like crazy. A Notorious Love was no exception: a B+.

The emphasis is firmly on the hero and heroine, Daniel and Helena, and since this is a road romance, they are together pretty much all the time. This makes for a relationship that develops very nicely, and not abruptly. Helena was a bit tiresome, at first, but she loosened up satisfyingly.

I especially liked the fact that this was not a stereotypical noble lady - lower class man romance, full of self-flagellation on the part of the hero about how the heroine is too good for him and boo-hoo. No, Daniel does have some doubts about whether Helena could be interested in him, at first, but once it becomes clear that she is, in fact, attracted to him and considers him a valid prospect, he has pretty much no qualms about it. There is a moment near the end when he has doubts about whether she should marry him, yes, but not because he thinks his past per se makes him unworthy, but because he worries it will create in the future the same problems it was creating at that point with the smugglers. Made sense to me, but I was glad this wasn't too drawn out.

This was a very hot book, with wonderful love scenes and a fair amount of mental lusting (which I confess I do enjoy, when done right). My only problem with this aspect of the story was that Daniel's terms for his penis were, quite frankly, groan-inducing. "Pego", "John Thomas", "St. Peter"... oh, please! This was much too distracting.

As far as the suspense subplot goes, well, I'm afraid the "villain"'s motivations didn't really make much sense to me. I mean, what he did was a really stupid thing to do, much more trouble than it was worth. Still, I found myself, if not enjoying this, at least not minding it. I liked that there was never much doubt that the worse thing that could happen to Daniel and Helena (and Juliet) was being inconvenienced until the ransom was paid. Yeah, I know, most people would feel the exact opposite way, that this decreased the suspense, which for them is something bad, but what can I say? I'm weird that way.

What I didn't like was how this book, didn't really stand alone very well. A lot of space was devoted to Helena and Daniel in A Dangerous Love, and I don't think their story would really have felt complete if I hadn't read that book first. It seems the same thing will happen with the third sister, Juliet's story. There is a lot about her and her abductor, Morgan Pryce here, and this is a thread that is left hanging, which usually bothers me. I was already going to buy their book, After the Abduction, but I feel a little manipulated.


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