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Notorious (Signet Historical Romance) Mass Market Paperback – 1 May 2007

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I write lush and lusty historical romance. My heroes are dark, dominant, and dangerous, with a hint of the lurking bastard inside them. Then I create a heroine who is a match for them, or more than a match!
I have written over 30 novels, and am a NYTimes bestselling author. The first time I made that list with Seduced, I climbed on the roof and shouted it to the world!
I was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England and emmigrated to Canada when I was twelve. I married a Canadian and about twenty years ago we moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. I have two handsome sons, two outstanding grandsons, one beautiful granddaughter, and a perfect great-granddaughter.
The first line of my bestselling novel, The Pirate And The Pagan, defined my career: "What a beautiful cock!"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 20 reviews
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Unpleasant 16 Jun 2007
By Kathryn Warner - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Notorious, the sequel to Infamous, is set in the 1320s and purports to be the romance of Brianna de Beauchamp [ludicrous modern name, there] and Wolf Mortimer. Many of the characters in Notorious were real people in fourteenth-century England.

I say 'purports' because Brianna and Wolf disappear from the narrative at regular intervals, while Henley focuses on the story of Edward II and his wife Isabella, and their lovers. Here, Notorious becomes deeply unpleasant, and readers of a sensitive disposition may become deeply dismayed, as I did, at the endless references to Edward II as 'unnatural' and 'perverted' because he loves men. He's also portrayed as highly feminised and weak, a horrible and offensive stereotype of a gay man. Queen Isabella's adultery with Mortimer is acceptable, however, because her lover Mortimer is so ultra-manly. And heterosexual.

The characters are not medieval English people, as they're said to be, but modern Americans, who think, act and talk American. Brianna has freedoms that no medieval noblewoman could ever have dreamed of. The overall impression is one of modern American characters dashing round England and Scotland in fancy dress.

In Notorious, any resemblance to real fourteenth-century England and real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. I laughed out loud at the presence of the earl of Warwick in 1327, when historically he died in 1315. Notorious is not even an interesting romance, as the 'hero' Wolf is a creep who uses his gift of second sight to spy on Brianna while she's undressing, and Brianna herself is whiny and spoilt. Her catchphrase "I shoudn't - but I shall!" gets even more irritating than her mother Jory de Warenne's "I've quite made up my mind!" in Infamous.

Anyone looking for a well-written, sexy romance with accurate historical detail will be wasting their time.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A lukewarm romantic historical drama short on romance, history, and drama, but long on hypocrisy 24 May 2007
By Charlene Vickers - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Notorious purports to tell the story of Brianna de Beauchamp, a character from one of Henley's previous novels, whose budding romance with Wolf Mortimer entangles her in the intrigues between Edward II, his wife Isabella, and their respective lovers.

Unfortunately, the romance ends up taking a back burner to the political intrigue. Normally I wouldn't mind this, but in Notorious the intrigue seems to be more an excuse for Henley to repeatedly call Edward II 'unnatural' because he was gay. (I kid you not: if I had a nickel for every instance of 'unnatural' in this book, I'd be down at the local coffee shop buying a latte or five.) Now it's true that homophobia was universal in 14th century England, but it's also true that homosexuality wasn't talked about as much as it is now, nor was it considered the ultimate evil that these characters seem to feel it was. Edward II was unpopular, but much of that is due to his views on taxation and the power of the commons. Henley overestimates the contemporary interest in Edward's private life and all but ignores the policies and acts that in reality led to the rebellion.

There's also a strain of hypocrisy in this book which (to be honest) I didn't notice until another reviewer pointed it out. On second reading, though, it's blatantly obvious: Isabella's grasping, greedy, power-mad lover Roger de Mortimer is a hero, but Edward's grasping, greedy, power-mad lover Hugh Despenser is a villain. Yet they act exactly the same, both in real life and in this book. So why is Mortimer heroic but Despenser a villain? Because Mortimer was committing adultery with a woman instead of a man? Or is Roger de Mortimer a hero simply because he's the brother of the ostensible heroine's love interest? If so, that's sloppy writing, especially given the historical facts.

You may be wondering by now what happened to Brianna, the ostensible protagonist. I was wondering that myself. Her story is pushed off the pages as the struggle between Edward and Isabella and their camps takes centre stage. The relationship between Brianna and Wolf and her feelings about both him and the man she was pre-contracted to aren't fully developed. I didn't get the sense that the attraction the two of them obviously felt for each other developed into love: Henley doesn't show enough of their budding relationship, and every time I thought she would begin to develop it she goes back to the Edward-Isabella story (throwing a few 'unnaturals' in for good measure). I think that if a story is supposed to be about two people, the story should be primarily about them, not about those around them.

Finally, and this again is something other reviewers have mentioned, Henley calls the method of Edward II's torturous death "ingenious" in the epilogue. I hope to God above that Ms. Henley didn't mean it the way I read it. If so - my heavens, how offensive.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I just wasn't that into it.... 21 May 2008
By Jaz'elle Lynn - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
So, let me say first of course that I am a fan of Ms. Henley's; hopelessly devoted to every single book. I started reading her about 13 years ago as a high school senior and have continued on to now. But lately....her books....just....havent had the same....punch. This book which was a spin off of Infamous I believe, and the main character just isnt as interesting or entertaining as her mother Jory. I just..didnt cae about what happened to her, at all....seriously. The same of true of the sequel to "A woman of passion". In that book ( a woman of passion), VH totally stepped away from the formulaic boy meets girl story and gives her heroine 2 previous husbands before she marries the love of her life. I tend to stay away from books that see the heroine passed from man to man like a beer bottle at a super bowl party. (See Beatrice Smalls) It was a risk, but the character, Elisabeth Hardwick-Cavendish...was so incredible that the book became a delight to read. Her grandaughters story was just....blah!. just like in this book, she didnt have the fire nor the passion that her mother had. Although a fantastic author, she hasnt quite mastered the "genelogical genre" that authors like Johanna Lindsey with her Mallory series, Jude Devereax with her Montgomerys or even Julia Quinn with her Brigertons has. Each character in the family had their own life, and spark, so that you wanted to read about their exploits and adventures. None of Virginia Henleys characters decendents capture the vivacity and vibrance of their forebearors. Does this mean I wont buy her next book....of course not. I LOVE HER. and....who you forgive for thier indiscretions. This book, for me was a major indiscretion.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
wonderful historical romance 2 May 2007
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Brianna de Beauchamp is betrothed to Lincoln Robert de Warenne so feels somewhat ashamed when she meets father and son Roger and Wolf Mortimer because she finds the young Wolf quite attractive. Still in spite of her urge, Brianna refuses to act on her feelings. However, Wolf desires her and rejects the concept that she belongs to Lincoln. He uses his special paranormal skill to seduce Brianna in her dreams.

Meanwhile as part of the larger scale of conflict between Edward II and his estranged wife Queen Isabelle, her paramour Roger is interned inside the Tower. While Brianna and Wolf fall in love, he fears that his blood association as the son of the imprisoned Roger threatens his beloved at a time that alienating the de Warenne brood can prove deadly.

Nobody consistently combines history and romance into an entertaining mix better than Virginia Henley does. Her latest tale brings to life England during the rule of Edward II through the relationship between Brianna and Wolf. The story line is fast-paced and stars a likable lead couple, whose hero's paranormal courting method is a unique way to win a lady. Meanwhile the intriguing triangle at court consisting of the king, his estranged queen and his male lover adds a sense of presence to a wonderful historical romance that some might insist is a romantic historical thriller.

Harriet Klausner
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Love it 6 Jan 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Virginia Henley is my favorite historical romance author. I am never let down by her books. I read them over and over again!
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