Her Notorious Viscount  - Jenna Petersen When I read the blurb for Her Notorious Viscount, a story about an uncivilized former gentleman who's forgotten how to function in polite society, I got genuinely (and foolishly) excited. My mind instantly went to this ...


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... but with a dude and his raging penis instead of Audrey Hepburn and her winning charm. So I walked into this reading experience expecting elocution lessons, the viscount trying to balance books on his head, clever musical numbers, and a little belligerent sexual tension between tutor and student. Sadly, what I actually got was a whole bunch of wangst from an unlikable heroine, a supposedly tough hero with no balls to speak of, and a mystery plot that wasn't as much of a mystery as it was an excuse for the heroine to act like an irrational shrew.

When one of the main conflicts of a story makes less sense than wearing shorts in the dead of winter, I cannot in good conscience rate the book above 2 stars. The writing isn't particularly clever or inspiring. It's a lot of the same. Same psuedo-18th century British speak. Same uninspired love scenes. I wasn't particularly impressed. Also, this viscount isn't the least bit notorious. There isn't even a wacky sampling of him screwing up simple social situations. Nor does he do this:


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Bastard.

SUMMARY:
Lord Nicholas Stoneworth is thrust back into good society after the death of his beloved twin brother. He's been hanging out in London's underworld (yes, the author constantly refers to the bad side of town as the underworld, and yes, I did snicker each time I read it) as a fighter for several years because his daddy is a huge asshat who always loved his perfect brother more. So now a reluctant Nicholas is a viscount, and apparently a formal education and a life being raised by a goddamn marquis haven't really stuck in his big dumb brain. I'm assuming that all the fighting has turned him into Rocky Balboa.


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More than willing to offer her help is the prim and proper Jane Fenton. Although she's a lady's companion, Jane knows all kinds of stuff about propriety because she used to be a lady. *cue the saddest violin music ever* The daughter of a viscount, Jane was a perfectly acceptable member of society until three things happened. First, her brother got hooked on opium and disappeared in the dreaded underworld. Secondly, her daddy kicked the bucket without bringing his selfish bastard of a son home. Thirdly, Jane's cousin Patrick inherits the title under the grounds that her brother Marcus is probably/most-likely dead. This all leads to Jane losing her bananas. In exchange for her help preparing Nicholas for society, Jane asks the lovable rogue to search the underworld for Marcus to prove that the rightful viscount still lives. This naturally leads to sex.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!
For about one chapter of this book, I actually felt sorry for Jane. She's just this sad little thing in the beginning, trying to hold onto her pride even though she's fallen so far. She regrets being invisible now that she's little more than a servant. My sympathy went out to her. It would suck to go from carefree young woman with marriage prospects to some sort of social leper, free to go to all the same functions but unable to associate with "friends" from little more than a year ago. I thought, "Poor Jane. Her cousin must be a real asshole, throwing her out penniless like that. I can sympathize with this heroine."

But THEN the true story comes out, and it becomes clear that Jane is not so tragic as she is fucking hysterical. So it goes down like this:

- Brother abandons family for opium and disappears off the face of the earth.
- Viscount dies with his heir NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.
- Cousin Patrick ascends to the title after having Marcus pronounced dead.
- Cousin Patrick offers to marry Jane OR sponsor her for a season so she can find a suitable husband.
- Jane's all like, "Fuck you and your reasonable and kind offers. My brother's ALIVE, and you're an IMPOSTOR, even though I've known you all my life and you've never given an indication of being anything but fair and kind. I will turn my nose up at society and common sense and become a common working girl so that I can investigate my brother's NOT-death on my own. I hate you forever and always, Patrick! Go to hell, you slimeball!"
- Jane repeatedly shows up at Patrick's house to "investigate" her father's records about Marcus. While there, she insults Patrick and accuses him of all sorts of treachery. He allows her to abuse him every time and never bars her from coming back for another bitch session.
- Then she pisses and moans to Nicholas about how horrible her situation is because Patrick did it to her.

I'm sorry, but what kind of person decides she'd rather be homeless and at the mercy of a society with such a rigid class structure when the supposed villain is a perfectly nice guy who offers to marry her but is TOTALLY COOL with it if she doesn't. It's like getting pissed off and throwing the tray back in the face of that sweet little old lady who offers you samples at Sam's Club. What else was Patrick to do in his situation? Allow the title and estates to fall into squalor? Someone had to save the Fenton line, and Jane sure as hell didn't do anything rational to help. In addition, why is Jane so dedicated to her brother? The man abandoned her and NEVER CAME BACK after the death of their father. He also failed to return when Jane demoted herself to servitude. So either Marcus REALLY IS DEAD, or he's the biggest douche who ever lived. He really is dead. On his death bed, Jane's father made Patrick promise to wait until Jane was emotionally ready to show her the hard proof of her brother's dead-as-a-doornail status. Since Jane is a fucking basket-case, Patrick never finds the opportunity.

So every time that Jane cried over her circumstances - this happens a lot - I just wanted to throw the book and shout, "You brought this on yourself, Einstein!" And since a majority of the plot is dedicated to Jane's hysterical mystery, very little time is spent with Nicholas singing "I Could Have Danced All Night" and cursing Mr. Higgins. To say that I was disappointed is an understatement.

There's a ridiculous fight at the end, in which Nicholas becomes a total wet blanket in the face of Jane's angry judgment. This woman is so intensely unlikable. I swear. She's the one who should have been banished to the underworld.

And one more thing. Underworld. Was Nicholas teaming up with Kate Beckinsale to fight werewolves while he was there?


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There's a good question to ponder, my friends.