Published by Avon on September 25, 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Joanna Shupe returns to New York City’s Gilded Age, where fortunes and reputations are gained and lost with ease—and love can blossom from the most unlikely charade
With the fate of her disgraced family resting on her shoulders, Lady Christina Barclay has arrived in New York City from London to quickly secure a wealthy husband. But when her parents settle on an intolerable suitor, Christina turns to her reclusive neighbor, a darkly handsome and utterly compelling inventor, for help.
Oliver Hawkes reluctantly agrees to a platonic marriage . . . with his own condition: The marriage must end after one year. Not only does Oliver face challenges that are certain to make life as his wife difficult, but more importantly, he refuses to be distracted from his life’s work—the development of a revolutionary device that could transform thousands of lives, including his own.
Much to his surprise, his bride is more beguiling than he imagined. When temptation burns hot between them, they realize they must overcome their own secrets and doubts, and every effort to undermine their marriage, because one year can never be enough.
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
A Notorious Vow is the third book in The Four Hundred series by Joanna Shupe.
In the words of a Kylie Minogue song “Wow Wow Wow Wow“. Could I have enjoyed this book more…NO!
Lady Christina Barclay has been forced to flee her London home to New York City, they leave under a cloud when her father owes debts to too many people to ever be able to pay. The move to New York is to find a rich husband for Christina to marry, one that will pay them a settlement to cover all the debts so that they can return home, minus Christina of course.
Oliver Hawkes is a very rich man. He went deaf as a young teenager and although he was forced to fit into a hearing society it wasn’t without a lot of ridicule. When he was old enough he removed himself from society and spends his days at home working on an invention to help partially deaf people to hear. He’s earned the nickname of a recluse, but he doesn’t care. His life is how he wants it.
That all changes when Christina finds herself hurt in his garden. Oliver’s dog alerts him to a problem and takes him to where Christina is unconscious and bleeding. From that moment his life would not be the same again.
I don’t want to give spoilers but as you will know from the blurb of the book, Christina and Oliver find themselves married. They are very much attracted to each other from the very beginning, but with Oliver’s insecurities about not being good enough for Christina, and her not being forceful enough to make him realise that he is, we have to wonder if they will ever be able to give in to their real feelings. Or will the marriage be annulled as Oliver suggests in just a year?
There are the most amazingly evil characters in the story: Christina’s parents who keep wanting more and more money from him, and also Oliver’s cousin who wants his allowance raised and money to be given to him for investments. Bad investments. He really wants everything that Oliver has and will go to the evilest limits to try to make that happen!!! There is also the evil old man that had wanted to marry Christina, he is on the warpath since Oliver took what he believed was rightfully his. With these people in their lives, it makes forming a true relationship together even more difficult for Oliver and Christina. Can they have a happy ever after? Of course they can, but getting there makes for a fabulous story that I absolutely recommend!
I enjoyed every part of this story and loved our hero and heroine, but one thing that definitely affected my feelings for this book is that the hero is deaf. My daughter was born deaf and I am well aware of the hearing and deaf cultures. I am sad to say that even in this day, at least in the UK, deaf children are still being pushed to learn to speak and lip-read as a way of communication, even if it is virtually impossible for them. I think there is nothing as stupid as schools for the deaf that don’t allow sign language to be taught. It made me quite emotional to think that right from the days this story is set until modern day deaf people are still being ridiculed, still being made to not use sign language in some instances, and in some cases, they are still called deaf and dumb! I am at least thankful that deaf people are no longer sent to asylums! But time to get off my soapbox. I just want to finish off with a thank you to the author for a wonderful book which also highlighted life for a deaf person in that era, and for the wonderful information about the invention of the first hearing aid. I loved this book and it has to be one of my very favourites from this author.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
In the three weeks since she had arrived in New York City, Lady Christina Barclay had taken to taking walks in the reclusive Oliver Hawkes’ gardens, her closest neighbour. Oliver had not noticed her until a little incident made him aware of her presence. Since an illness caused Oliver to lose his hearing, he has been keeping mostly to himself, and working on his inventions. Having fled England in complete disgrace, Christina’s parents demand that she marry a very wealthy man and soon. Christina had not expected anything good to come out of the situation, but old Mr. Van Peet, the man of her parents’ choosing, is Christina’s worst nightmare. Oliver and Christina have since become sort of friends, but then they found themselves married so that Christina is safe from her mother’s machinations.
A NOTORIOUS VOW started so wonderfully that I was already basking in Joanna Shupe’s storytelling following the loveliest meet-cute. It felt a bit over the top, with Christina’s horrible parents, the lecherous unwanted suitor, and Christina’s extremely submissive nature, but still, I had high hopes. However, as the story went on, I thought it got somewhat depressing with all the unpleasant drama and Christina who seemed more a shadow than a person. This startling lack of subtlety from Ms. Shupe made the story seem almost medieval or gothic in tone, especially considering the author’s penchant for very strong female characters. I was dismayed at Christina’s lack of backbone; she is one of the meekest heroines I have read in a very, very long time.
A NOTORIOUS VOW seemed too much of a marriage of convenience: I got the impression that the romance occurred merely because the other person was nice, agreeable, available, and in Christina’s case grateful for someone who was kind to her. As for Oliver, his problem was not that is he deaf: he is somewhat oblivious and oddly naïve, and continuously gives Christina mixed signals. Oliver’s butler, Gill, was more attuned to Christina’s feelings than Oliver was. While we are repeatedly told that Oliver saw Christina as strong, I could never see it. I would also have preferred to see Christina’s parents shoved into the background for a while, as the second villain that appears later on was more than enough, and more pertinent to the storyline. I was ever so thankful for Frank Tripp – Oliver’s lawyer and a recurring secondary character – he almost salvaged the story. Everything that had to do with the fate of the hearing-impaired in the late nineteen hundred’s was truly fascinating, as Ms. Shupe, again, scrupulously researched her topic. The writing is flawless and eloquent, but I felt this book lacked the sparkle that has defined Joanna Shupe’s Gilded Age series; it just didn’t work for me.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.