Well, it happened. On December 18, I finally decided to DNF (did not finish) my first book of 2020. Notorious by Minerva Spencer had a fun premise, but ended up disappointing me in the first few pages. Typically, I include affiliate links in my reviews, but what disappointed me is something I don’t want to make a penny off of should someone decide to purchase this book after coming across this post.

The summary, from Amazon:

PopSugar Best New Romance of November

“Brilliantly crafted…an irresistible cocktail of smart characterization, sophisticated sensuality, and sharp wit.”

“Sparkling…impossible not to love.”

Fans of Evie Dunmore, Sabrina Jeffries, and Eloisa James will delight in this innovative, empowering, and sexy story from acclaimed author Minerva Spencer. Join the Rebels of the Ton as they subvert Regency norms and expectations…and manage to find true love along the way.

The cure for a willful wife . . .

Drusilla Clare is full of opinions about why a woman shouldn’t marry. But that doesn’t stop the rush of desire she feels each time her best friend’s brother, notorious rake Gabriel Marlington, crosses her path. So imagine her dismay when she finds herself in the clutches of a scoundrel, only to be rescued by Gabriel himself.  And when Gabriel’s heartless—and heart-pounding—proposal comes, it’s enough to make Dru’s formidable resolve crumble . . .

. . . is a smitten husband.

She’s sharp-tongued, exasperating—and due to one careless moment—about to become his wife. Still, something about Drusilla has Gabriel intrigued. First there’s the delicious flush of her skin every time she delivers a barb—and then the surprisingly sensual feel of her in his arms. Gabriel even finds himself challenged by her unusual philosophies. And when he discovers a clandestine rival for Dru’s affection, his temperature flares even hotter. But the real threat to their happiness is one neither of the newlyweds sees coming. If they’re to save their future—and their very lives—they’ll need to trust in each other and their growing love.

What to know about a DNF review…

Because I did not finish this book, it’s entirely possible what I have to say in this post is bologna. Maybe everything winded up turning around… What do I know? But if I DNF a book, it is because I am either not interested in the content – because it’s just not for me, or due to the writing – or because I’m morally opposed to something within the content. If I am morally opposed to the content, I will omit purchase links in my post, especially as I make affiliate income from them, and remove them from any previous posts referencing the book. In this case, I was morally opposed.

So why did I DNF?

Spoiler alerts abound.

In the first few pages of the book, the white heroine, Dru, mentally describes the biracial hero, Gabriel, as exotic. I’m presuming the author is white as well, though if I am wrong, I would appreciate being corrected. While ten years ago this may not have seemed like a big deal, it’s 2020 and romance readers know better. Romance writers should, too. A white character describing a non-white character as exotic is at worst a microaggression, and at “best” fetishization. I highly doubt that the author had a racist intention here, but it’s still not okay, and while I can roll my eyes at statements like this in older books, I don’t want to see it in this decade at all without the context that it is bad.


I gave Notorious a few more chapters, hoping it would redeem itself. I considered that it was possible Dru would realize the error of her thoughts over time. However, I found myself bored with what I would normally find an exciting scene in other romance novels. Dru and Gabriel are forced into an engagement, and argue during the proposal scene. Dru’s thoughts and comments aren’t overtly racist, nor are Gabriel’s overtly misogynistic, but they’re still racist and misogynistic. Even if they both wind up realizing they are wrong at the end of this book, I don’t want to read about two people with crappy beliefs “fixing” one another. I think it most likely this winds up being a book about a character I recognize to be a bad (clearly not fully intersectional) feminist turning her husband into a feminist, too. On Tinder, I swipe left on moderates, and I want my heroines to do the same.


I peeped the other Goodreads reviews and saw that the book doesn’t seem to get better. This was the deciding factor for me. What a shame, as the author’s previous series appears to be a hit. I doubt I’ll check it out now.

Of course, I could be entirely wrong about this one. It could have a fabulous twist at 20% through, but I gave up at 19%, and I’m glad I did. I have other romance novels with themes I stand for to waste my precious time with.

Notorious (Rebels of the Ton, #1)Notorious by Minerva Spencer

Ooof, DNFing at 19%. The heroine described the biracial hero as exotic… Come on, it’s 2020. Do better.

I wanted to keep reading to give this a chance, considering maybe the heroine would realize that her thinking was racist. But the following chapters still had me feeling iffy, and Goodreads reviews led me to believe this one does not get better. What a shame, since it’s a fun premise.

I received this copy in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley.

View all my reviews

Have you read this book? Do you agree with my opinion, or do you think I should have given it another chance and pushed through? Comment and let me know your thoughts!