Review: Brazen and the Beast

Book CoverBrazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
My Rating: 4-Stars (actual: 3.75)
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Formats: eBook ($7), Paperback ($14), Hardcover ($18)

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 Beastthey 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.

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Review: The Duke is But a Dream

Book CoverThe Duke is But a Dream by Anna Bennett
My Rating: 3-Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Formats: eBook ($8), Paperback ($7)

Look at that cover. So pretty!

This is my first Anna Bennett book. While I wasn’t swept off my feet, I did enjoy the organic way the two characters got to know each other. The premise that Lily (a Miss from a well-to-do family) is left alone while everyone leaves town and has a head injury/memory loss and then Eric (the Duke of Stonebridge) decides to take her in until her family is discovered is far-fetched—but it worked for this particular plot, as the two wouldn’t have socialized otherwise.

Lily is energetic and enjoyable, and I loved the snippets of her columns prior to each chapter. The friendship between Lily and Delilah, Eric’s sister, helped both characters grow and accept realizations and realities of the world around them.

I really liked Eric as a person, but absolutely didn’t like his reasons for not wanting a romantic relationship. He aspired to have great intentions but his decision-making skills need some improvement. He’s unwilling to commit, but gets involved with Lily anyway—even when she doesn’t know who she is.

The circumstances of the story force both Lily and Eric to open up in ways they may not have otherwise. While I would have liked to have seen these characters come together in a less-forced manner, their story was still a fun and quick read. It isn’t the most memorable of stories, but is an intriguing one. The book is part of the Debutante Diaries series, but can be read as a standalone.

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Regarding the swearing in the book:
Several other reviewers have mentioned profanity in this book. I noted two f-bombs and six s-words. Etymology: The f-bomb originates all the way back to the 16th century (and possibly before), making an appearance in poetry and even in an Italian-English dictionary, both in the 1500s. The s-word is believed to date back to Old English and first appeared in Middle English writing, though it’s more likely that our British hero would have pronounced it differently than how it’s spelled in the book. The author isn’t writing something too “modern” or “out of time,” as these words have been around for centuries.

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Review: Forbidden Angel

Book CoverForbidden Angel by Sandra Lee Rice
My Rating: 2-Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: out now
Formats: Kindle Unlimited, eBook ($3), Paperback ($8)

Normally I wouldn’t review such a poorly written book that I randomly picked up on Kindle Unlimited, but I was floored that there is a  plethora of strong reviews for this book on Goodreads. The premise sounds good, but the writing technique was poor. The book had several problems:

  • Absolutely no white space/scene break between scenes. Characters would seemingly do the equivalent of teleporting or time traveling (for example: in one scene the two main characters are down by the barn, and suddenly in the next paragraph the male lead is looking out his study window). This was jarring and confusing.
  • Almost-but-not-quite-fully-omniscient point of view. I normally don’t like full omniscience, but I think I would have in this book had it not been for the previous problem of zero scene breaks.
  • Too much side story and too many characters. This book needs an editor to go through and kill those darlings (sorry, Penelope and Michael, and solicitor who likes honey).
  • The villain was too adept at his villainy ways while at the same time being absolutely terrible at it. He’s constantly drunk, and reportedly poor, but somehow can afford to follow people all over the place and find time to stay upright while doing so?
  • The main plot dragged on for so. freaking. long. Again, kill those darlings. This dragged because: 1) too much subplot/too many characters; 2) too much drama with the villain without any actual action taken on it; 3) unnecessary detail; and 4) the “Who is Angelique… really?!?!” subplot.

Continue reading “Review: Forbidden Angel”

Review: One Night of Passion

Book CoverOne Night of Passion by Erica Ridley
My Rating: 4.5-Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: May 12, 2019
Formats: eBook ($3), Paperback ($9)

One Night of Surrender is the third book in the Wicked Dukes Club series, co-written by Darcy Burke and Erica Ridley.

With the two most eligible bachelors now off the marriage market, Thaddeus Middleton is on the hunt for a wife. With a promised inheritance coming to her in a few years, Priscilla Weatherby is playing a game of pretending-to-but-not-really-looking-for-a-husband.

One rejected invitation to a dance changes everything for this pair. Continue reading “Review: One Night of Passion”

Review: One Night of Surrender

Book CoverOne Night of Surrender by Darcy Burke
My Rating: 4.5-Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Formats: eBook ($3), Paperback ($10)

One Night of Surrender is the second book in the Wicked Dukes Club series, co-written by Darcy Burke and Erica Ridley.

Isabelle and Valentine were once lovers from different walks of life, separated by life and duty. Both are widows of unhappy marriages. Neither wants to relive the experience again.

Financial troubles led Isabelle to become a governess, and when the family she works for lodges for a temporary stay at Valentine’s townhouse in London, the two are reunited. Isabelle tries to avoid Valentine, while Valentine is thrilled to see his former love interest and pursues her. She finally opens up, and as they uncover each other’s pasts, the two must reconcile what they are willing to let go of if they want a future together—especially after Isabelle’s employer puts her life into sudden upheaval. Continue reading “Review: One Night of Surrender”