Thursday, July 21, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Notorious By Nicola Cornick

HQN Historical   July 19, 2011

284 Pages by Nicola Cornick

When the ton’s most notorious heartbreaker…

Dangerously seductive and sinfully beautiful, Susanna Burney is society’s most sought after matchbreaker. Paid by wealthy parents to part unsuitable couples, she’s never yet failed to accomplish her mission of diverting a groom-to-be. Until her final assignment brings her face-to-face with the man who’d once taught her an intimate lesson in heartache....

Meets London's most disreputable rake...

James Devlin has everything he's always wanted: a title, a rich fiancée and a place in society. But the woman who's just met his eyes across a crowded ballroom threatens it all. Not because she'd once claimed his heart, or that every sinuous swirl of her ball gown takes his breath away. But because the secrets she carries could cost him everything. To put the past to rest once and for all, Dev just might have to play Susanna at her own wicked game...
Let the seduction begin!
Another solid, sensual and emotional read from Nicola Cornick. This is book 4 in her 'Scandalous Women of the Ton' series. This is something I have not read before, the heroine is a 'heartbreaker for hire'. Susanna Burney does what she must to make her way in the world. Hired by the elite of the ton, she uses her feminine wiles and stunning looks to lure the pampered sons of the elite away from inappropriate women. Women of questionable background and low birth to be more specific. Susanna managed to do quite well in her chosen field, keeping her emotions far removed from her task.

All that changed when she saw James Devlin at a ball. All James wanted was wealth, title, a place in society. Considering he and his sister Chessie are penniless Irish orphans he managed to achieve some of the goals. But now Chessie is all but engaged to a Marquess, and James has been engaged for over two years to the Earl of Brooke's daughter, Emma. James also managed the title, However, he and his sister are indeed penniless, everything is riding on their possible marriage alliances. James has jumped through hoops to stay in Emma's good favor, including giving up his roving eye/

James is shocked when Susanna walks into the ball on the arm of Fitzwilliam Alton, Chessie's possible suitor. She was hired by the Duke and Duchess of Alton to detach Fitz from the unsuitable Chessie. James does not know this, he only sees his childhood sweetheart, his former wife. They had run off together when they were 18 and 17 respectively. Now ten years later, the hurt floods back for both of them. Susanna is also passing herself as a widow, Lady Carew. A lot of heated exchanges between the two at various events is exchanged, but there is no denying the attraction is still there.

There are extenuating circumstances to the sudden split and annulment of James and Susanna ten years ago. The layers are slowly peeled back and the heartbreaking reasons revealed. Bitter heartbreak has damaged both these people and you wonder if they will ever find their way back to each other. More is revealed, of which I will not give away.

There is a fine line between anger and arousal, so it is inevitable that Susanna and James cross that line. Constant bickering can become tedious when reading a romance, but Nicola Cornick doesn't cross the line here, the emotion, angst and feelings are raw and real.

A subplot concerning Chessie and her secret amour was interesting enough, if not a touch creepy. You will see what I mean. Hence the title, 'Notorious.'

I found Susanna too stubborn for words, I rolled my eyes near the end of the book. I did love James. He had been through so much, including a stint as a Naval hero, then home to indulge in being a full-blown rake. Then his two year celibate engagement to the empty-headed Emma. Yes, things no doubt could have been resolved if the hero and heroine had just talked, but misunderstandings are a big part of this plot. While that can be frustrating, it works here.

It is quite a bumpy ride to get to the HEA, and well worth it. An emotional, sensual read that will grab you and not let go.

3.75 stars of out 4

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