My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
After reading and despising book 5 of this series, I thought it’s time I took a vacay from GF’s books. So here I am, after 2 years, trying to finish up the series that started out as a disappointment. In fact, and I know I’ve exhausted this line, that Inferno Club is an overall disaster. If you’ve read her earlier works, you’d know what I mean. Comparing those, this series is full of melodrama, annoying characters with over the top storyline, almost on the verge of being silly. Worse thing is that, all the while I felt that this series had potentials to be something darker, with the author having the talent to make it so. By now I’ve given up any hope for any kinda improvement. As a result, when I started My Notorious Gentleman, book 6, I had no great expectations. I just wanted to see how Trevor’s story plays out. Just glad to say that it was much better one; fast paced, yet more of a comfortable read without the sillyness.
Even though I like recapping the earlier installments to give you the taste of what has been before, there’s no way in hell I can do it here. So in a nutshell, the whole series revolves around a bunch of rakehells, who, as the society know them to be, a part of a club called The Inferno Club. They give the society the illusion that Dante House, where they meet, is their ‘playground’, or so to speak; a den of debauchery. Well, Dante House is a playground of sorts, it’s a mixture of debauchery and something far more secretive. Though not all the rumors regarding their ‘escapades’ are rumors, what the others don’t know is that they’re working for the crown as spies. But they’re a special breed of spies who were trained since early childhood, sort of ‘sacrificed’ by their families to become a part of an Order that they follow; the Order of the St. Michaels. They have an ancient nemesis too, the Promethean Council. We’re talking about thousands of years of enmity that started since the day of the William the Conqueror. Both sides have been in action for that long, the Prometheans trying to unleash their evil on the world and rule it, while the heroes of the Order trying to save it from their clutches.
The original 4 members that had the first 4 books (in correct order) were the Marquess of Rotherstone, Max; the Duke of Warrington, Rohan; the Earl of Falconridge, Jordan and the Earl of Westwood, Drake.
Max and Daphne’s story is in My Wicked Marquess, book 1 that started it all. I didn’t love it, neither did I hate it. I gathered a starter of a series is always a bit confusing, so it was an ok read.
Rohan and Kate’s story is in My Dangerous Duke, the one that I hated the most before the next came along. Rohan was the ultimate manwhore of the bunch (until Beau) and the whole story was a mess. The only interest, for me, was the action that GF writes (or used to write) so well, so I kept going with the series to know where the conflict between the Order and the Council is going.
Mara and Jordan’s story, book 3, was My Irresistible Earl, which I really enjoyed. Their chemistry was amazing, as were the characters wonderful. For the first time, I saw some hope that the series is going to be better... unfortunately, not. Though the action was good, I had probably expected way too much for the next.
Drake and Emily’s book, #4 was My Ruthless Prince. This was going to be the big showdown between the Order and the Council, with all sorts of intrigues and actions, especially because Virgil was killed and Drake was caught by the Prometheans. He was acting as if he had betrayed the Order. I actually thought this will be the last installment, with maybe a spinoff series from it following the rest of the secondary characters.
But book 5 comes as a part of this series. My Scandalous Viscount was THE WORST book so far, which featured Beau and Clarissa. He was a junior member of the Order, who had been handed down some serious responsibilities when the Promethean Council, apparently, was destroyed in the Order’s last strike. All the heroes went into hiding after that, so Beau was supposed to be running the place. But from what I saw, he was busy shagging anything that moves in skirt on every nook and cranny (yes, I hated that one that much). The dialogue was ridiculous, so were the characters. The story, at this point, kinda veered away from the main course. We come to learn about 2 more junior Order agents, friends to Beau, Trevor and Nick, who were never once seen or been introduced before. It seems both were in trouble, Nick being the wild one while Trevor the ‘nice one’. Beau was, again, awarded the task of saving them. Nick wanted out of the Order, which is a big no-no, so he did some crappy stuff, including holding a wounded Trevor as a hostage to gain his freedom; a plan that ultimately backfired. In the end, after a conspiracy to murder the Prime Minister is foiled, with Nick being hit to save the guy, the Order’s identity is finally revealed to the world. All the agents, including Nick and Trevor, are then recognized by Prinny and given the respect and rewards as that of heroes.
Not that it really saved Nick from being convicted for treason since he was entangled in the mess which lead to the murder plot. He was meant to go to the gallows but was saved only because Beau, and later Trevor, spoke on behalf of him. Beau was already married to Clarissa, so while Trevor goes to recuperate from his ordeal, Nick is sentenced to a long prison term, in Order-style.
When this one starts, it’s been a while since all those actions. We don’t see the older Order agents but only by mention. Trevor has been back to the society, or so to speak but he’s one truly unhappy man. He was engaged to this society belle for a while, a neat arrangement where no love was lost between them. The Golden Goddess that he thought would be a great possession, had since moved on to find a new beau when Trevor was declared dead after his disappearance.
Trevor is not your pretty boy type. He’s a tall, big man with rough good looks (or so I assumed). He’s also one of the most responsible of the Order agents who is what you’d call the ‘nice guy’. Yah, he hasn’t been a saint but in comparison to his fellow brethren, he has lived like one, yet he was happy with this arrangement. Now, the abandonment of his ex-fiancée, Laura, is grating on Trevor. He feels lost in this ball where the society mamas are keeping their daughters away from him as if he’d bite them, while the Ton widows and bored wives are giving him those ‘come hither’ looks. Trevor is here only to see if Laura would attend, to satisfy the morbid curiosity of finding out more about her new beau. Little did he know that instead of facing his ‘past’, he’d end up meeting the prim and proper vicar’s daughter, one Miss Grace Kenwood, his ‘future’.
Grace is, indeed, the duty bound daughter. A spinster at an ‘advanced age’ of late 20s, she has no great aspirations, neither does she hope to marry. Being the only child, ever since her mother passed away, Grace’s days have filled with helping her father in his parish duties. She has also been trying to help the bratty heir to an Earl, Lord Brentford, one of the 2 influential families of their little village. Grace would’ve been happy to live her days in all the peace and quiet she can have, had she not met this insufferable man. This ball she’s attending, given by the Brentfords, is sort of a courtesy invitation. She or her father doesn’t belong here, yet the family reluctantly decided to invite them, mainly because people around here respect the vicar. She, having an almost saintly reputation, also shares some of that respect.
When Grace meets Trevor, they didn’t know anything about each-other. He was hiding in a darkened room from two sluts who were in pursuit of him. But, after his ordeal, meaningless shagging was the farthest thing from Trevor’s mind. On the other hand, Grace somehow finds herself alone in the same room with that insufferable man who seem to mock her with each word as if he dislikes women. Yet she can’t help but be intrigued, especially when his crude invitation leads to a lusty kiss. Grace had nothing in her mind, yet the man seems to nurturing the idea that she followed him here for... er, that. She’s horrified at the thought, but not disgusted in the least. Apparently, the tall and well-built man has awakened a part of her that she didn’t think even existed in her!
I was glad that they were introduced very soon, when Grace finds her father talking to Trevor, the ‘Hero’ as everyone at that ball keeps referring to. She sees him, immediately knowing it’s him. Not only that, Grace also detects his uneasiness at all the attention, quite visibly unwanted, though he is trying his best to put up a straight face. He didn’t like their curiosity, yet people kept asking him things that obviously made him uneasy. Being very good at healing the hurt, injured creatures, Grace could detect the darkness inside this man. People around him just don’t understand. It calls out to her, but what can she do about it? Then the fun begins when they’re introduced and Grace glimpses all sorts of deviltry and promises in his eyes. Oh, he was enjoying this a lot, as well as remembering that kiss that almost landed her on her back, on a couch!
Then the vicar invites Trevor, or Lord Montgomery, to a Grange near their home. The place has been sitting vacant ever since the lone master died in a war. Their village is still suffering from that mad man’s schemes. He encouraged most of the able-bodied men to join him in the war, a cause that only brought misery. Most died, leaving the families to suffer and the village economy in shambles. Grace’s village needs a man to take up the challenge of putting things right. And it seems her father thinks Lord Montgomery, who apparently has an interest in purchasing the Grange, is that man. Grace isn’t that sure though. Why would a rich man, an Order hero, a man of the sophisticated society leave all the glory and rusticate in some nowhere? But boy, Grace can’t help but secretly hope that he at the least considers this offer, and it doesn’t really have much to do with the village or her father’s wish. She finally may have found someone who makes her feel alive.
In a few days, Trevor visits the Grange and decides to buy it, ironically, his intention not only to improve it, but also to have his beautiful new neighbor as close as possible. He wants a complete change in life, nothing like how he has lived in his Order days. All in all, Trevor viewed this purchase as a new beginning for himself. He even makes a point of visiting Nick in his dank, dark and solitary prison to make peace with his old buddy, to his utter surprise and secret joy. After he returns to the Grange with a plan to make it a home for himself, and if God willing, for his family, Trevor thought his wooing of Miss Kenwood go smooth. But he was oh-so-wrong, for he catches the eyes of the spoiled little pretty daughter of the other influential family of this area, one Miss Callista. This whiney girl thinks the world revolves around her and every best thing in this area should be her property (thanks to her parents and upbringing). Trevor certainly was a prize to be had! And so, she instantly sets her sight on him, doesn’t matter if he wants her or not. *eyeroll* But the news was, she was engaged to Brentford until very recently, when he got entangled with a local tavern girl. The gossip and the humiliation were too much for the ‘perfect’ Miss Callista, so she broke the engagement immediately. But it seems she doesn’t have to worry about her ‘future’ anymore, as her mother too would agree, now that an exciting, worldly man is in her neighborhood, much to the Grace’s chagrin.
I really disliked how Grace sort of cowed behind this family but I also got that they were the one who paid her father’s wages and the other expenses of the parish, so she, sort of, was forced to be biddable. But inside, she’d be annoyed at Callista’s activities where Trevor was concerned, most especially as her pea-sized brain wouldn’t bother about others’ wishes or interests. But I was glad that she didn’t let Trevor slip past her. She can also thank him, for Trevor was equally annoyed with the family’s forwardness. Callista would throw herself at him on every occasion they met. Then there was the very unsubtle matchmaking by her mama as if they already owned him, and that he should feel grateful to become their SIL! From the moment he saw Grace around he made it quite clear, if not by words but by actions, that he prefers her over the pretty young Miss, yet nothing would stop them. The dinners and other invitations, that both Grace and Trevor were forced to endure were pretty trying for both, especially because they had to hide their mutual feelings.
Yah, mutual feelings. It began to grow slowly, even though there were some bumps in the beginning. The vicar clearly approved of Trevor, who had already won over the village by announcing his intentions of making improvements. He knew it won’t be easy at first, after what the people here was forced to suffer for a long time now. But he’d try his best. Trevor is also an architect, though he never had the chance to work on this passion of his all that much. Now that he has a house to built, with the incentive of Miss Kenwood around him, he’s more than eager to practice. If only he could get rid of Callista and her whining family!
I’d say both Callista and Brentford were waste of space for this story. I was super annoyed and pissed at times at both, they were that spoiled, immature to the bone and oh-so-loud in everything they did, not caring a whit about their surrounding, or the people that occupy it. It was like a match made in heaven, one that I didn’t care for! I just wished them gone, for they occupied too many pages. I even disliked Grace trying to validate Callista’s self-centered b!tchyness with ‘oh she’s so beautiful, an only child and heiress, she’s used to acting and expecting this way bla bla bla bla’. No Grace, you being the daughter of a vicar should know better! Nothing validates bad parenting and selfish behavior. But Grace got enough of Callista’s whining when she was so eager to catch Trevor, if not anything but to show Brentford that she has moved on. Oh Good God!
Fortunately for Grace, though she had her doubts about Trevor’s intentions, he put those to rest once they made love, that she’s the ONLY one he wanted, not some girl fresh out of schoolroom. That it was largely because of her that he decided to come here to settle down. He wants a smart and caring woman who’d understand him, who had the strength and personality to be with him every step of the way in this new beginning. Trevor knew Grace understood many of the subtle things about him that people didn’t. He knew off the bat that she’s good for him and was smart enough to know he can’t let her slip away. And somewhere along the way, with all the activities in and around the village, alongside his house, as Trevor begins his improvement work, Grace and he fall in love. It was that simple, and I totally loved it! There were no complications, no coyness, no melodrama (if you leave Brentford-Callista out) in it. And thankfully, no OWs to come and ruin things for them.
But they couldn’t avoid trouble even if they wanted to. For one, after a bad day arguing with Brentford, Callista the B!tch comes in search of Trevor, only to find him with Grace. She runs out, calling Grace a ‘whore’ and then sets about spreading this tid-bid, while painting herself ‘the victim’ of Grace’s machinations. It never mattered that Trevor, not ONCE, told her or even showed any sign of interest in her. At all. That ought to give you an idea of what we were dealing with. Brentford was just an idiot so I’m not even going to comment on him.
This lets Trevor approach the vicar for Grace’s hands sooner, rather than later. But the damage was already done. Grace is painted as a ‘scarlet woman’, but for once, Grace doesn’t care that her reputation is in shambles. She’s in seventh heaven right now, knowing she’s going to marry the man she’s been dreaming away. That finally she has found love, and soon, would have her own family too; a thing she thought would never happen to her.
Then, Brentford goes and gets himself into another trouble, this time with said tavern girl’s ex-pimp and his gang of thugs. He also drags that trouble into the village when he runs back here. Though he apologizes to Grace for breaking his vow of secrecy about her relationship with Trevor (that’s why I said, the Dumbo went and told everything in a feat of rage, to the B!tch, just to show her that Trevor didn’t care for her... which was true of course *shrugs*) and all that happened afterwards. When trouble follows him there, it was up to Trevor (of course) to save the day. Though not one of his Order duties, it sure came close enough for Trevor as he had to fight, kill and maim a few to save Grace and Brentford from the clutches of those men.
Overall though, it just proved that Trevor wanted Grace so bad that he’d do whatever it takes to keep her safe. And though he had his moments of doubt, knowing Grace might not forgive him for killing men in front of her, even in self-defense, Grace put his doubts to rest after it was all said and done. I mean, yah, she was shocked, which I’d count as very normal but she already knew she had a purpose too; to love and heal Trevor, a journey that could only start by trust and forgiveness. I thanked GF for not creating a ridiculous ‘big mis’ out of it to ruin things for them, and for me.
4 stars, and I’d say again that My Notorious Gentleman was better than what I had originally expected. I enjoyed Trevor and Grace’s banters, and definitely their budding lovestory. Also loved reading about the older Order agents, though I’d rather GF updated me with their news, rather than repeating herself on Beau and Clarissa’s ‘happily married state’. Yah right! Thankfully, those scenes were very few so I persevered.
For the next installment:
1. Since the storyline has completely veered away from the original Order-Promethean setting, now Nick has his own journey ahead of him. Nothing was really hinted about his fate, except for that one brief appearance, so expect anything.
2. Nick’s story is the last installment of this series.
Addendum: I sure as hell hope that this is the last time I saw anything of Brentford and Callista, as I don’t really remember the fate of their ‘doomed’ relationship (eye-rolling even as I’m typing this).