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Daring and the Duke: The Bareknuckle Bastards Book III Kindle Edition
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From the Publisher
About the Author
A life-long romance reader, Sarah Maclean wrote her first romance novel on a dare, and never looked back. She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, the host of the romance novel podcast Fated Mates, and a columnist for The Washington Post, where she writes about the romance genre. She lives in New York City.--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
- ASIN : B07YKY2RFT
- Publisher : Avon (June 30, 2020)
- Publication date : June 30, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 5719 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 379 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #19,598 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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And Sarah MacLean said, “Hold my beer.”
But I’ll admit, I didn’t come into the finale of the Bareknuckle Bastards series with the most open of minds. As she has done in previous series, MacLean has been building to this story, establishing the groundwork in the previous installments. It’s a technique that has work fairly well in the past, the concept being that if you raise the stakes slowly ahead of time, the climax of the series will be all the more satisfying. And the stakes are higher than ever in Daring and the Duke.
In fact, the stakes are too high. MacLean has spent two books painting Ewan (the eponymous Duke) as a thorough villain, possibly mad to boot. And I like a good villain redemption story as much as the next person, but Ewan seems so irredeemable by the beginning of the book that a redemption arc has no ground to stand on. He’s relentlessly hunted his brothers, tried to destroy their livelihoods, and is responsible for the deaths of five men. And now we’re finding out that he seriously hurt his siblings and tried to kill the girl he supposedly loves when they were younger. Even if that last one isn’t totally true, even if he says that he didn’t ever intend to go through with it (and I’m not sure that’s what he’s saying, given that I didn’t finish reading), that’s a very shaky argument to make after the fact.
As for his other misdeeds, Ewan’s defense boils down to: “They made me sad, so I hurt them.” ... I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it for me. Maybe there was a time in my life when I would have suspended disbelief long enough to buy that sort of nonsense, but I can’t anymore. Does MacLean realize that is the rationale behind every American school shooting for the last decade? I’m a lot more lenient about what I’ll tolerate in fiction versus real life (for the simple fact that fiction isn’t real), but I can’t see a happy-ever-after unfold out of this.
Our heroine, on the other hand, seems inclined to forgive him. Grace actually doesn’t seem too bothered by his past actions at all. Right from the moment when they first lock eyes, she is more interested in getting him into bed than making him atone. She keeps having to remind herself that he has done horrible things, because her libido is dead set on riding the bastard. She’s supposedly an accomplished business woman, whose entire enterprise is built on giving women a taste of the freedoms men enjoy, but how has she built an empire with such a personal lack of self-respect? It’s a bit like watching your talented, intelligent, beautiful friend backslide into a toxic relationship, even though you know she deserves better.
All this nonsense is dressed up in the most dramatic, over-the-top writing you can imagine. Characters toss out dramatic statements left, right, and center, and their main mode of transportation is flouncing about, accompanied by the overzealous swishing of their coats. They love turning their backs on people they are conversing with, for the chance to glance over their shoulder at them (honestly, it’s a surprise they don’t all have neck problems). There are no sincere statements within these pages; everything is so coated with unnecessary drama that I would have had a hard time empathizing with the characters even if the story wasn’t so unpalatable.
If you enjoyed the book, good for you. Everyone is entitled to like whatever media they want, without having to be as critical as I have been about the content. But this really wasn’t my cup of tea, and I won’t be reading Sarah MacLean’s books any longer.
Verdict: 1 star.
Ewan, however, has been described for two books as being a horrible person. You’d think, she’d have a great redemption arc for him, considering the horrible things he’s done.
But she doesn’t. The betterment of Ewan is off page, for a year, which....falls flat, and feels superficial.
Let’s also talk about the fact that if a redemption isn’t written spectacularly, there’s a good chance that the hero doesn’t even deserve the heroine. Ewan spent a good amount of years doing horrible things to his half brothers because he thought Grace was dead. That.....isn’t really redeemed, and kind of borderlines obsession.
Let’s move on to my real problem:
Grace and Ewan remember their childhood (before the age of 15, where I’m not really sure how you could fall that deep in love at that age) and their nostalgic memory of it which... kinda falls flat? They’re different people now, but they spend the entirety of the book remembering old times, yet barely know each other as *adults*. All they have in common is their tragic upbringing, and that they want to have sex. “It’s always been her for him” but.... literally spent years doing horrible things to his brothers because he thought she was dead? Not to mention.....how does that even make sense if he only remembered her as a child? I just... can’t really believe that.
I didn’t really feel a chemistry at all, and I kind of was disappointed that this wasn’t a slow burn, they have a sexual interaction at the very beginning of the book.
Not to mention it’s kind of not fun to read a romance novel where the hero is already head over heels in love with the heroine - I want to see a relationship *develop* instead of love happening off page. It’s also worth nothing that Ewan, in my opinion loved the idea of Grace: how can you love someone you don’t even know?
Overall, not the best MacLean novel, even if the first two were superb.
Yep. Too convoluted.
Top reviews from other countries
Not sure if enough time will ever pass. This series has simply become an instant classic and favourite and I might re-read them forever.
Sarah MacLean does something very difficult here with a control of the craft that is some next level flex.
She has built a villain for 2 books only to destroy him and pull him apart in the third, but not only using the well know device of showing the other point of view, but by him actually working towards listening, changing and for once doing what it's being asked of him.
It's a very difficult thing to pull off, because if we don't believe he's earn forgiveness we won't find the ending satisfying and a satisfying ending is a cardinal rule of romance.
Instead MacLean pulls all the stops and subverses most of the cliches of the genre, by also not making the book about Ewan, or his journey, but undeniably about Grace, what she wants, what she needs, what she deserves. And finally, when that proves to be Ewan, as a reader you are so on board.
Somebody said that we believe that Moriarty is genius because Sherlock tells us so, and through the eyes of Ewan the only thing left to do is to fall madly in love with the goddess that is Grace. Which I did, wholeheartedly. Grace is the force behind the entire series, the power in the shadows, the Queen of Covent Garden, a magnificent character so nuanced, so complex, strength and sweetness all carefully woven together. Of course Ewan loves her, who could avoid it?
So instead of wallowing in him not deserving her (a trope I find truly exhausting) he goes away and becomes somebody who does. And then lays himself at her feet. What else could you possibly want out of a romance book?
As a cherry on top, in case we needed even more, this finalises and arc in which all 4 Bareknuckle Bastards find love and reunite family. Their reunion can only come at the very end, when both Devil and Whit have had their own reckonings with what they would do for love.
Now, I want a Christmas novella special about all 4 of them and their partners and their kids because I NEED IT.
The first two books in the trilogy followed Ewan attempts to thwart his half-brothers, nicknamed Devil and Beast, who he believes have let Grace die. In this book he learns she is alive and sets out to woo her. In the earlier books Ewan is shown as determined, ruthless and slightly mad but with a hint of sadness and a glimmer of humanity which would barely surface before it quickly disappeared. This book turns him from the almost cardboard villain of those books, into a fully formed human being, and I almost wish we'd seen a bit more of him like this in the earlier books.
Grace was a likeable heroine who has packed a lot into her 33 years. She is brave, loyal, strong and thankfully does have a flaw, even if it is her belief in her ability to pass unnoticed (even in the 21st century let alone the early 19th century, a nearly 6' women would stand out in London).
As a conclusion to the trilogy it made sense within the worldview of the characters. Quite whether it would work as a stand-alone, I'm not sure. The story goes along at a rollicking pace, and I read it in a single (long) sitting. My only quibble with the whole thing is the frequent use of the form "it was he/it was she" which grated with me, but this might just be me.
And it just didn't hit the spot. Why not? There was adventure, redemption, funny dialogue (but only a bit), resolutions and a strong plotline. But it all felt so slick, so formulaic and the seduction scene in 72 Shelton and the endless references to Apollo.....I am all in favour of some bawdy bedroom talk, but honestly, I thought he was going to set an exam. After waiting for 22 years, just get on with it!!!
I enjoyed the social history and the research that goes into the background of Ms Maclean's stories is creditable.
I just felt like all the boxes had been ticked and I never got passed a simmering interest.