by Minerva Spencer
A mean girl reformed…
Once the reigning beauty of her social set, Celia—whom the newspapers dubbed Lady Infamous—has fallen on hard times and is practically destitute, her reputation in shreds. When Celia is forced to attend a society wedding as a companion to an elderly guest, she must confront the clique she once commanded; the gentleman she’d once hoped to marry—who is now wed to a girl Celia relentlessly taunted; and the powerful man who ruined her life a decade before—and is threatening to do so again…
A hero transformed…
Then there is Richard, the studious boy Celia used to ridicule, who is now gorgeous, wealthy, and more-than-a-little famous. As a youth, Richard was infatuated with Celia. He still seems intrigued, but Celia has acquired a shocking secret along with her hard-won humility. Will it put an end to the love blossoming between them? Does she have the courage to find out?
Historical romances are not my thing, and yet I tried out this book. Surprisingly, I’m glad that I did. Although, I do have some thoughts about it.
Infamous is the third book in the Rebels of the Ton series but can be read as a stand-alone. The novel is set in the early part of the 1800s. 1818 in the first chapter, and then it skips forward a decade to get to the meat of the story.
As an aside – I had to look up the meaning of Ton, and in my research, I found that this season was the short-lived ‘Regency’ lasting only nine years – February 5, 1811, to January 31, 1820. During the reign of King George IV.
We start with the debutante season, an exclusive series of balls and gatherings that only the aristocratic and highest of society members attended to showcase their daughter’s and attempt to find her a husband of equal class standing or pedigree.
The young Celia was a typical societal ‘mean girl,’ she bullied the servants beneath her, disparaged those who were disinterested in the trappings of the social seasons, and played tricks on whoever happened to get caught in her radar. However, Celia was at constant war with her conscience – often caught up in her mind for a moment wrestling with her choices. Although, being a bit of a brat always won out.
Richard is a man of Science. The society gatherings, the debutantes, and the overall trappings of the season are not the types of things that he finds any enjoyment. Throughout the entire book, there is a lot of time spent reiterating how much he doesn’t understand people and his struggles reading between the lines in conversations.
Anyway, Richard is Lucien’s twin. ‘They’re identical, yet different,’ with Richard being the dowdy, spectacle-wearing, spotty brother to Lucien’s expansive repertoire of sheer charm, fashionable clothing, and overall handsomeness. Richard sits on the fringe, lost in his thoughts and obsession with beetles – a common theme in the novel. So, it is no surprise that he ends up on Celia’s radar, and she devises a plan to trap him and another wallflower. The plan backfires spectacularly, and Celia loses her standing within the society at a time when her own father’s machinations bring about his family’s downfall.
Penniless, Celia finds herself having to earn her keep through many channels – a governess, a mistress, and eventually a lady’s maid.
Ten years later, Celia and Richard are brought back together when Celia’s employer is invited to be a guest at the wedding of Richard’s sister. Wherein she has her eyes opened to the true extent that her nefarious trick had panned out over the decade as relationships blossom and the tension between characters make for some heated love scenes.
As with every story, there needs to be an overarching character for the reader to hate, and boy, you end up hating this puppet master. But his comeuppance is delicious and worth the wait!
This novel forces you to take a closer look at the intricacies of human behaviour, to put under a microscope the why of someone’s choices, and go on a journey with them as they grow away from the grip of jealousy in youth or the small sphere they confine themselves within.
As I mentioned before, I had some steadfast thoughts throughout the book:
I felt that there were too many characters initially, with too many titles, and the interchanging use of them was highly confusing. Introducing a character by their full name, their title, and then using their first name, a pet name, their surname, or their honorific title in a conversation instead of staying consistent made it harder to follow than it should have been. It is the kind of thing where you feel like you really should make a character sheet as you go to keep track of everything.
Richard – An issue that I have with the portrayal of his personality – while I understand that scientifically inclined men can be a bit more unaware of social norms and feel that their time is better spent on their pursuits, it feels as though Richard’s character is almost a cookie-cutter caricature of someone with ASD.
Grammar was delightful, aside from an instance where Bubkle was used instead of Buckle and a missing word a few pages later; it flowed very well overall. The vocabulary used in some places required researching, which was a lovely adventure as an English degree student.
Even with the slow start, Celia’s redemption, Richard’s growth, and the resolution of everything ties in very well and leaves a beautiful ending.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
You can pre-order your copy of Infamous today, or you can follow my social media, and I will update you closer to the release date of September 28, 2021.
Where to buy
Book Depository | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Waterstones
If a historical romance isn’t your thing and you prefer a modern contemporary romance, check out my review of The House Swap!
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