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Brazen and the Beast: The Bareknuckle Bastards Book II Mass Market Paperback – July 30, 2019
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“Strong female protagonists are the rule in genre romance, but Hattie stands out for the clarity of her goals and the intelligence with which she goes about achieving them. Classic MacLean: smoking hot, emotionally rich, thrilling, and unforgettable.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“The imaginative plot carries readers along in this deliciously sexy story filled with heart.” (Publishers Weekly)
“When it comes to crafting unforgettable romances that are both emotionally and thematically complex, nobody does it quite like RITA award-winning MacLean, and the latest brilliantly written and boldly sensual addition to her Bareknuckle Bastards series is another exquisitely constructed and exceptionally entertaining celebration of the power of love...” (Booklist (starred review))
“MacLean is not called the intoxicating queen of historical romance for nothing! She’s a master of intelligent dialogue, which adds to the tension, as several moments for a possible tryst pass the couple by...A fun, sexy read!” (Historical Novel Society)
“Combining dark humor and plenty of heat between our brazen leads, and offering intriguing glimpses of the next installment, MacLean (Wicked and the Wallflower) once again gives us an independent-minded heroine discovering the possibilities of a future with a dangerous leader of Covent Garden’s underbelly.” (Library Journal)
“Funny, playful and vivid, Sarah MacLean’s latest romance samples the best of both worlds with the earthy vigor of the slum’s crafty, loyal lower classes and the juicy intrigue of high society scandal.” (BookPage)
“Brazen and the Beast is filled with lush sensuality, charming characters, witty dialogue and heart-stopping action--a tale that is certain to delight romance readers.” (Shelf Awareness)
“This book is funny, sexy, and empathetic towards its characters.” (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books)
“She’s my absolute go-to author for clever, sexy and fun historical romances.” (Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times bestselling author)
From the Inside Flap
The Lady's Plan
When Lady Henrietta Sedley declares her twenty-ninth year her own, she has plans to inherit her father's business, to make her own fortune, and to live her own life. But first, she intends to experience a taste of the pleasure she'll forgo as a confirmed spinster. Everything is going perfectly... until she discovers the most beautiful man she's ever seen tied up in her carriage and threatening to ruin the Year of Hattie before it's even begun.
The Bastard's Proposal
When he wakes in a carriage at Hattie's feet, Whit, a king of Covent Garden known to all the world as Beast, can't help but wonder about the strange woman who frees him--especially when he discovers she's headed for a night of pleasure . . . on his turf. He is more than happy to offer Hattie all she desires... for a price.
An Unexpected PassionSoon, Hattie and Whit find themselves rivals in business and pleasure: she won't give up her plans; he won't give up his power... but neither of them sees that if they're not careful, they'll have no choice but to give up everything... including their hearts.--Booklist (starred review)
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There’s a common misconception that the romance genre is all dashing heroes and overblown prose, and while it’s true that some of the genre definitely fits that description, I’ve usually held up MacLean’s work as an example of great romance novels. Her characters often undergo complex emotional journeys, the feelings aren’t all hearts and flowers, and there’s a fair bit of action too. Generally, her writing eschews the unfortunate stereotypes of the genre, but Brazen and the Beast plays right into them instead.
On the surface, it should have made for a unique story. An earl’s daughter, striving to inherit her father’s shipping business, clashes with a criminal lord of Covent Garden, who throws some serious kinks into her plans. Cue the snappy banter and sexual tension. Except Hattie talks about wanting and deserving her father’s business (a lot), but you don’t really see her striving for it until the end of the book, and even then she would totally throw all her aspirations away for a hot guy she’s only known a week.
And let’s examine the hot guy question: Beast, one of the eponymous Bareknuckle Bastards. He’s billed as the brooding, silent type who would die for anyone under his charge. But if he’s so silent, why is he talking so much? All the other characters make a bunch of quips about how he only communicates in grunts, but he somehow finds the opportunity to deliver mini-monologues in every other chapter. And I get that he feels the need to protect everyone because of his mother, but the whole “two watches” bit? Because he was too late to save her? Total overkill. Also, I thought the watches were going to play some interesting role in the plot, but that never panned out. Talk about a loose thread.
The character deficiencies were not helped by some pretty gaping plot holes. If Beast knows his evil brother is in cahoots with Hattie’s incompetent brother, why is he still trying to get a name out of Hattie? If Hattie hadn’t made the deal with her brother to save him from Beast, how would she have convinced her father to turn over the business to her? The whole Year of Hattie five-point plan was mentioned a bunch, but it seemed more like a vague outline than an actual working scheme. And why did Beast think that buying the shipping business would save Hattie from his evil brother? It made no sense, and if there was even a half-assed explanation, I completely missed it.
And the cherry on top was the independent woman theme. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love this theme... usually. As with most literary themes, it works best if it’s seamlessly incorporated into the plot (show, not tell). But MacLean bashed us over the head with it, repeatedly. She set up entire conversations to give Hattie epic one-liners about being a woman in a man’s world, and then flubbed the delivery. The cringe-worthy dialogue and flowery prose just made it even worse.
So is this story worth your time? I don’t really think so. But I’ll give MacLean some brownie points for the original premise and cross my fingers in the hope that the next one is better. And in the meantime, I’ll go back and re-read her previous works. Maybe I was delusional when I read them, and they’re just as bad as this one. Or maybe they’re just as good as I remember them.
Verdict: 2 stars.
Lady Henrietta Sedley (Hattie) is about to turn 29 and wants a new experience as she doesn’t think anyone will marry her. She’s more comfortable on the London docks, at her father’s shipping business, than in a ballroom. As she is planning to go out, she discovers her brother has left an unconscious man in her carriage. And the man is Beast! She is a little afraid of him, but very attracted to him. It appears her brother has stolen some cargo from the “bastards”. As she pushed him out of her carriage, he finds her at a brothel for women and she agrees to help him recover the goods her brother stole. Beast is worried that this half-brother, the Duke of Marwick, who thinks their sister Grace is dead, will come after Hattie.
Does she marry Whit? Is Grace alive? Is Ewan still dangerous to them all? I cannot spoil this story, but I highly recommend it and I can’t wait for the next book in this series. Note to Sarah MacLean: Thank you for a heroine who is built with curves (like a lot of us), and her hero loves them!
Notes: - Good standalone. - Not for those who hate sensual scenes, explicit language.
Four illegitimate children of a sadistic Duke were pitted against each other for the promise of money and recognition. Beast was one of three, who fled and later became kings of the underworld.
Beast is taciturn, dangerous but protecting those he loves is paramount. He both resents and envies the unlimited power wielded by a relatively small aristocracy.
Hattie, an Earl's daughter, is tired of being powerless. Her gender blocks her unconventional dreams. Lack of societal acceptance blocked the conventional pursuit of marriage.
Both see in each other traits that they admire and envy. They face danger together, while combating each other and their desires. (< Simplistic synopsis)
Read it, read it again, then save it to read many times over.
Undoubtedly one of my favorite historical romance series to date.
Top international reviews
Action, suspense, passion, lust, emotion, loyalty, self deprecating of characters, setting the scene for more from Ms. Maclean. My goodness!
Whit is wonderful! A complex character full of sensitivity under the 'Beast' exterior. Fighting to justify himself as a kind of penance for not, as he thinks , to living up to his true name. He, at times is heart wrenching in his sincerity and his gift for giving.
Hattie is a fighter, alarmingly intelligent and altogether very 'unton'. She deserves a new word. She is indeed a 'warrior ' as Whit calls her. Denied recognition from the ton because she is not fashionably beautiful in looks or behaviour. Whit, however sees all that she is.
Yet the spectre of the other brother looms seeking vengeance for wrongs he thinks have been done to him. The power he has over the Bareknuckles is tangible yet equally miniscule as Whit finds his home.
Absolutely mesmerising read. Fabulous. When is the next one?
Whit is swoon worthy and the chemistry between him and Hattie clear.
I do wish Hattie's brother had had a scene where he really faced some hard truths, and Hattie's father seemed to vanish as quickly as he appeared in the book.
I can see myself re-reading this.
Ewan shouldn't end up with Grace, though. If Sarah MacLean couldn't make me forgive Haven, I don't see how she can manage it with Ewan. And if it turns out, oh, he WASN'T actually trying to kill her, which seems likely, then it makes most of the actions taken by the Bareknuckle Bastards to be pointless.
The most refreshing thing this book does is not make Whit a typical misogynist MC who has to vl be convinced of the heroines actual capabilities intelligence autonomy in order to learn to respect her. He does. From the get go. It can be done writers.
The book is funny, angsty and hot.
All you want in a romance.
I will however temper my glee with one comment. I know the series is based on the angst and turmoil of the “competition for the title” and subsequent “betrayal”, however I am hopeful with Grace’s story, we are able to move past the pantomime villain that is Ewan, as I think we have reached the limits of his “threat” as a plot device. I also, really, really, really, don’t like the man, so I am hoping Sarah MacLean has got something bulletproof up her sleeve to “redeem” him, (though I have my doubts thats possible), as it risks the series if she doesn’t and he gets Grace.
Mainly I am eagerly anticipating interactions between Grace, Hattie and Felicity in the future.
5 Stars from me to you Sarah Maclean and thanks for such a enjoyable story.
A Hattie é uma mulher que não segue padrões, ela faz o que bem entende e só quer a sua liberdade. O relacionamente entre ela e Whit é lindo. Eles se apoiam, se respeitam e se amam.
Esse livro é intenso, tem girls power e é viciante.
Perfeito, zero defeitos!