Cynric “Cyn” Malloren, one of the younger brothers of the extremely powerful and influential Marquess of Rothgar, is on his way back to his regiment after a convalescence and is bored and looking for adventure, when his coach is held up by a couple of highwaymen. Noticing that there is something strange about the pair, Cyn refuses to comply with their orders and ends up “kidnapped” and taken to a small cabin in the woods. He quickly figures out that his captors are in fact a pair of young women, one of whom has had her hair cropped short like a boy’s. The women are clearly desperate for some reason, and Cyn wants to figure out why they’ve taken to robbing passers-by to alleviate his tedium.
Lady Chastity Ware needs money to help her recently widowed sister and her baby nephew. The ladies’ father (I can’t be bothered to look up his title or name) pretty much forced his eldest daughter into marriage with a cruel and callous man and when Chastity refused to marry said man’s younger brother, her father arranged for him to be found naked in her bed, causing a huge scandal. When Chastity still refused to marry him, he had her beaten and cut off all her hair, exiling her to the countryside with only ugly, shapeless dresses to wear. Chastity solved the problem by stealing some of her brother’s clothes, disguising herself as a boy, and masquerading as “Charles”. She wants to help her sister reunite with the man she loves but was not allowed to marry, and they encounter Cyn when they attempt to rob his coach.
Cyn decides not to let on that he knows “Charles” is in fact a woman, and convinces the ladies to let him help them in their quest. They go off on a road trip, pursued not only by the ladies’ father’s men, but also their unscrupulous brother-in-law, who wants to get his hands on Chastity’s sister and the baby. Chastity falls for the charming and roguish Cyn pretty fast, but is known in society now as “notorious” and knows that a powerful Malloren would never be allowed to marry a fallen woman like herself. While Cyn finds Chastity attractive, he’s not really looking for a wife, being a dedicated soldier and all, but as their journey continues, he becomes determined to make her his, no matter what the cost.
When Jo Beverley died in May this year, there were a lot of very touching obituaries for her, and I had to look through Goodreads to check if I’d ever read one of her books. It turns out that, yes, I had, but I had very little recollection of the book. She wrote more than forty novels and a number of novellas during her career and it felt like a suitable tribute to read one of her novels in memory of her. Most romance sites seemed to highlight My Lady Notorious as a good place to start and one of her best works.
So what did I think? Full review here.