Happy Romance Monday! As promised, I have the second book in the Bareknuckle Bastards series for you today, on the day before its release date. And OH BUDDY, what a fun ride this one is! And can I just say, what I love most about most romance series is that you can pick up any of the books and read them – you don’t NEED to go in order. It’s fun if you do, because you pick up the little tidbits thrown in, but it’s not explicitly necessary. And that makes them so accessible!
In Brazen and the Beast, Henrietta Sedley embarked on a quest of sorts on the day of her 29th birthday – it’s going to be the Year of Hattie, and it’s going to start with losing her virginity to a virtual stranger so she can have a say in how the rest of her story is told. She’s got the plan, she’s got the dress, she’s got the friend who will keep her mouth shut and drive her to the place. What she doesn’t account for is the man who shows up unconscious in her carriage as they’re about to set out, bound and sure that Hattie knows how he got there (once he wakes up). She tosses him from the carriage, thinking her night will go on as planned.
But one does not simply toss a Bareknuckle Bastard and think they’re done with you.
Whit, better known in Covent Garden as Beast, is not one that typically gets knocked out. Or bound. Or tossed from a carriage, for that matter. But as soon as he meets Hattie, he knows that there’s something different about her. And that’s besides the fact that she might have information about who’s been stealing the Bastards’ cargo. And when she reveals to him that she’s in Covent Garden to lose her virginity, he volunteers to help.
What starts as a deal to help both of them out turns into so much more. Beast has always kept to himself and never allowed himself to love anyone. And Hattie has never felt desired in her life. But they’re each other’s weaknesses, as is easy to see from nearly the first page.
3 Things I Loved
- Nora! I don’t often comment on side characters first, but Hattie’s best friend Nora is a fucking gem of a character. She knows how to drive a carriage and she wears trousers and she’s the daughter of a duke and couldn’t care less about it. Rockstar, right there.
- Hattie. You’ve got to love a woman who knows what she wants. AND who puts together an actual plan to achieve it! I’ll get behind that attitude any day of the week.
- Whit. Y’all already know I love a grumpy hero. But I actually grew to love Whit in the first book of the series, Wicked and the Wallflower [review here!], and that love blossomed in this installment. He’s a man of few words, and he chooses them well. I love that.
My biggest dislike in this book was Hattie’s ridiculous brother, Augie. I’ve grown to really detest white male privilege, and his was ANNOYING on top of that. He’s a rich white boy trying to be a criminal, and I don’t love it. I was rolling my eyes every time he appeared on the page.
Other than that, it’s the typical stuff. Very white. Pretty heteronormative (although there’s some pretty awesome queerness with the side characters in this one!). As I’ve said before, Sarah MacLean is a good enough writer (and I love her very much) that I hardly notice that stuff, but when I stop to think about it, it would be nice to have a little more diversity. After this one, I’m hoping to diversify my romance picks a lot more.
A reminder of the rating scale:
- Red = DNF, I hated everything
- Orange = Ugh, no thank you
- Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
- Green = This was good!
- Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
- Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!
As with all of the Sarah MacLean books I’ve read, this one gets stunning marks from me. Whit and Hattie are wondrous. I love their world. I can’t wait for the last book in the series, about Ewan, even though I currently hate Ewan. But I have faith in Sarah MacLean, and I think she’ll do right by him. In any case, I’m giving Brazen and the Beast a BLUE rating. SO GOOD.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Keep the romance novels coming! I love them!