Brazen and the Beast
Author: Sarah MacLean
Series: The Bareknuckle Bastards, book 2
Publisher: Avon (July 30, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback, 382 pages
Romance, Adult Romance, Historical Romance, Regency Romance
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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 struggled with Brazen and the Beast a bit, but I think a part of it was that I loved the first book in the series SO MUCH, and this just didn’t quite live up to that level of squee for me. I also forced myself to read it during a reading slump, which likely effected my enjoyment. Usually when I pick up a Sarah MacLean title I read it within a day or two, and this one took me a month to finish. I also had some issues with the description of Hattie’s friend Nora, where in one breath she’s not worth noticing walking into the ball but in the next she has “a massive dowry and the attention of every matchmaking mother of a son in shouting distance” who also has “half of London… wild for her bold smile and her winning charm.” Well, which is it, Sarah – is Nora an invisible wallflower or the talk of the ton? It’s admittedly a small inconsistency, but it bugged me way more than it should have.
I really, really loved Beast. I found him intriguing when he appeared in the first book so it was fun to see inside this strong-but-silent grunting hero’s head. He’s soooo much more swoony once his protective side and history of being the runt comes out. And then there is Hattie, who is this highly-competent plus-sized beauty (yay!) but her father won’t let her take over the business because she’s a woman (BOOOOO) and she’s got some major body issues because of her size (both height and weight). For someone who is so self-confident and ready to flout all the rules of society, I really wish Hattie would have been more comfortable in her own skin in regards to her looks as well. I’d have loved her even more if she was as confident in her curves as she is in her abilities, and we really need more body-positive plus-sized heroines. Hattie spends a lot of time disparaging her own appearance and not believing Beast (who is Roman god levels of fine) could possibly want her gross, large, fat body. It was just really off-putting for me as a fat person to read about Hattie feeling ashamed of her own body over and over again, and ultimately I think is what kept me from truly diving in and enjoying this book fully. Thankfully, Beast thinks she’s hot AF, so hopefully he’s able to help Hattie see how gorgeous she is.
This is the second book in The Bareknuckle Bastards series, and while it can be read as a stand alone there are some moments with the couple from the first book (Wicked and the Wallflower) that make it so this series is really best read in order. And frankly, the books are great and you’re going to want to read the entire series anyway.
An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.