All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Brazen And The Beast by Sarah MacLean

on July 16, 2020

Brazen And The Beast (The Bareknuckle Bastards #2)
Sarah MacLean
Avon Books
2019, 438p
Read from my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

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 Passion

Soon, Hattie and Whit find themselves rivals in business and pleasure. She won’t give up her plans; he won’t give up his power… and neither of them sees that if they’re not careful, they’ll have no choice but to give up everything… including their hearts.

I really enjoyed the first in this series, Wicked And The Wallflower but upon reading that, it was what was going to be the third book that interested me the most and this was just a book that should be read in order to get to the third one.

The series centres around a group of siblings – several born on the same day, bastard sons of a Duke and a girl claimed to be legitimate, but the wrong sex. The siblings were pitted against each other (the males, obviously) so that the Duke could choose who would be his heir. When it was all over, one was the winner, the other three were running literally, for their lives.

Years later, and the three that ran rule Convent Garden. The first book revolved around Devil and how he came to find happiness and this one deals with the one called Beast. When Lady Henrietta finds him unconscious in her carriage, it puts a spanner in the plans she has put together so carefully and she can’t have it. She must go ahead despite this inconvenience and when Beast wakes, vowing revenge on the ones who got the jump on him, Henrietta turfs him out of her carriage. But Beast doesn’t let anything go and he knows Henrietta will lead him to the answers he wants. He chases her down….and they make a bargain of sorts.

This was an up and down read. I thought the beginning was intriguing, particularly as Beast was down and out, having been hit from behind and bested. The ‘Bareknuckle Bastards’ don’t let anything go though and when Lady Henrietta figures out why he’s there, she knows she has to protect the (somewhat undeserving) culprit. Lady Henrietta was born common, her father was given an Earldom through services to shipping which will not be passed down and will only be for the duration of his lifetime. Having failed to make a match during her Seasons, she wants more from life. She wants to prove to her father that despite being the wrong sex, she can run his highly successful shipping business, that she has the intelligence and wherewithal to do so. Her father remains unconvinced, purely because of the fact that she’s not a son.

Where the book kind of lost me was the bargain between Beast and Henrietta, which, after he betrays her, she intends to keep part of….presumably because it fits into her plans to rid herself of something, but it makes very little sense plot-wise, after what Beast has done. She’s not privy to the why he has done it, so she sees it as the ultimate betrayal, which makes all of the interactions afterwards fall somewhat short for me, until it’s revealed why Beast did what he did, because of his saviour complex. Whilst there was a lot to like here in terms of Lady Henrietta’s background, her intelligence, her determination, her self belief, her want for something more than the life mapped out for someone who had the advantage of wealthy father who had been granted a title, there was also some times when the story went in circles and repeated some of the instances of the first book, probably deliberately (Devil even remarks that Beasts sits, in the same situation Devil himself was in earlier) and it just feels done before.

My excitement about the third book is in a state of confusion. I enjoy an anti-hero who needs redemption, especially if it’s a man tortured by love but the Duke seems like such a complete tosser who actively tried to murder people in this book and it makes me wonder how he can be redeemed or why anyone would love him. I’m sure MacLean will weave in tragic backstory using scraps of what we already know but given what both Devil and his scar as well as Beast, have experienced, as well as the one they saved and kept hidden all these years, how on earth this could become a situation that anyone could accept is a mystery. I feel as though a line needs to be drawn somewhere and ‘man who attempts to murder his own siblings as well as the one he claims to love unreservedly’ might well be it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book where the hero needs to grovel more than this one. We shall see.


Book #127 of 2020

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