Brazen and the Beast is the second book in MacLean’s Bareknuckle Bastards series. I went into this book without reading the first, and it read perfectly fine as a standalone despite the main characters from Wicked and the Wallflower making a few appearances.
Lady Henrietta “Hattie” Sedley has a plan for her 29th year of life: take control of her future in many ways, and that includes her father’s shipping business. Fate, however, has other plans when Whit (aka Beast), a ‘king’ of Covent Garden, is stashed, unconscious and restrained, inside her carriage.
The “Year of Hattie” is off to a poor start, but she isn’t about to allow a man to get in the way of her goals.
I enjoyed both Hattie and Whit in Brazen and the Beast—they were full of life, their motivations are clear, and their interactions were fun and engaging. Good characters can be hard to find, so it’s refreshing to find two likeable (though imperfect) main characters.
What dragged this story down for me wasn’t the romance, but rather the subplot. There’s dishonesty and betrayal, and the situation devolves into ridiculousness. What should have been clear-cut becomes convoluted, and the antagonist’s reasoning is pretty weak. The plot seems to have been devised simply to set up the next book.
I’d love to see the clever writing we got from MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series, which gave us relevant-yet-building plot and a great romance in each story. While Brazen and the Beast is a fun romantic read, and I recommend it for anyone looking for an engaging historical summer romance, it’s missing the magic of MacLean’s early-2010s writing. I hope the next entry in this series finds it again.
Brazen and the Beast will release on July 30, 2019.
I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.