Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Brazen and the Beast (The Bareknuckle Bastards #2) by Sarah MacLean

Posted August 3rd 2019 by The Faerie Queen in Blog Tours, Excerpts, Giveaways, Reviews / 0 Comments

Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Brazen and the Beast (The Bareknuckle Bastards #2) by Sarah MacLean

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Brazen and the Beast

Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Brazen and the Beast (The Bareknuckle Bastards #2) by Sarah MacLean
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Author: Sarah MacLean
Series: The Bareknuckle Bastards #2
Also in this series: Wicked and the Wallflower
Publisher: Avon
Release date: July 30th 2019
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: Amazon
Add to TBR: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository | iBooks | Kobo

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Star rating:
Heat rating: four-flames

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.

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The Faerie Queen’s review

I cannot be objective about this book at all. It really hit too close to home for me to not be completely swept away by it, and it consumed me. I loved the first book, and I didn’t think Sarah would let me down, but I also didn’t think it would be possible for me to love this book even more.

We were introduced to Beast, AKA Whit, in Wicked and the Wallflower as Devil’s half-brother and fellow Bareknuckle Bastard running Covent Garden. He isn’t much of a talker, communicating much like a teenage boy in grunts and monosyllables. Our heroine is a new but immediately incredible character, the Lady Henrietta, or Hattie. She pushes him out of a moving carriage after kissing him in the first few pages! Hattie is, in some ways, very similar to Whit, not concerned with finery, caring about her employees, and very brave. But unlike Whit, she’s more of a talker.

“If only there were some way you could tell me such things. Some kind of verbal communication you might attempt. Turning all your growls and grunts into discernible words. A spoken language of some kind, complete with meaning.”

And here’s where things started to get very intense for me. You see, Hattie is the kind of talker who feels like she must be always positive and funny to make up for perceived faults. She is tall, curvy, and not “classically” beautiful in her own eyes. She’s ‘good old Hattie’. She’s also very clever, succeeding in a man’s world of shipping. She covers up her insecurities with good spirit and humour, and she doesn’t believe she’ll ever get things like a good husband and children due to these so-called unladylike qualities, so she simply convinces herself she doesn’t want them. All she wants on the eve of her 29th birthday is to achieve five goals in her Year of Hattie, summed up in divesting herself of her virginity so her father will give up on the idea of marrying so she can inherit the family business.

She covered the hurt with a laugh, the way she always did.

This was both very difficult and very empowering to read because I’ve just turned 28 and have been really working on figuring out what makes me happy and what inspires me outside of a relationship. Until last September, I was pretty much always in a relationship as an adult, and even had a rebound thing that ended earlier this year. It’s like I’ve been having my own Year of Dani. I’m also tallish and curvy, plus pretty well-educated and working in a very male-dominated industry. Oh, and I’ve been told I’m too direct. So it really felt like I was reading about myself at first. First, it was funny, and then we got to the underlying insecurities fuelling Hattie’s Year of Hattie, at which point I just felt like I was being stripped bare. There were many tears.

No decent man with a head on his shoulders wanted an imperfect woman who spoke her mind and had a nose for business for a wife. Too brash. Too brazen. Too big. Too much. Too much and still … somehow … not enough.

That being said, it was extremely therapeutic to read about Hattie from Whit’s perspective. Where she saw flaws, he saw beauty and strength. He met her head-on as an equal, their verbal sparring and chemistry burning up the page and making me very glad for the cool breeze coming through my open window. The build-up to their eventual sexytimes was crazy, and Sarah once again did not fail to give us some great underskirt fun. It’s basically a guarantee with her. So now my expectations for a man have risen again, thanks to Sarah and Whit.

Just like in Wicked and the Wallflower, supporting characters blew me away. We got a bit more of Felicity and Devil from the first book, as well as Annika and some of the Covent Garden gang. But Hattie brought a new friend into the fray, the fantastic Nora, the daughter of a duke with a love for racing curricles down London streets. She also happens to be very secure in her sexuality, something brilliant to read and also leading to a budding relationship I squealed over. Out loud. I also laughed out loud every time she and Hattie had a conversation, their banter just as fabulous as Hattie and Whit’s (when he deigned to speak).

I also think it’s worth mentioning that Sarah is just all-round amazing at writing. I have so many passaged highlighted because they were funny, poignant, or just goddamn hot.

But he wasn’t claiming the waltz. He wrote his name across the whole card, claiming all of it. Claiming all of her, this woman who had rescued him, in one bold, dark scrawl. Beast.

Swoon.

Now enjoy this picture of me between two Sarahs, including the Sarah, when she met the OSRBC UK chapter for lunch.

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Excerpt

In twenty-eight years and three hundred sixty-four days, Lady Henrietta Sedley liked to think that she’d learned a few things.

She’d learned, for example, that if a lady could not get away with wearing trousers (an unfortunate reality for the daughter of an earl, even one who had begun life without title or fortune), then she should absolutely ensure that her skirts included pockets. A woman never knew when she might require a bit of rope, or a knife to cut it, after all.

She’d also learned that any decent escape from her Mayfair home required the cover of darkness and a carriage driven by an ally. Coachmen tended to talk a fine game when it came to keeping secrets, but were ultimately beholden to those who paid their salaries. An important addendum to that particular lesson was this: The best of allies was often the best of friends.

And perhaps first on the list of things she had learned in her lifetime was how to tie a Bosun knot. She’d been able to do that for as long as she could remember.

With such an obscure and uncommon collection of knowledge, one might imagine that Henrietta Sedley would have known precisely what to do in the likelihood she discovered a human male bound and unconscious in her carriage.

One would be incorrect.

In point of fact, Henrietta Sedley would never have described such a scenario as a likelihood. After all, she might have been more comfortable on London’s docks than in its ballrooms, but Hattie’s impressive collection of life experience lacked anything close to a criminal element.

And yet, here she was, pockets full, dearest friend at her side, standing in the pitch dark on the night before her twenty-ninth birthday, about to steal away from Mayfair for a night of best-laid plans, and…

Lady Eleanora Madewell whistled, low and unladylike at Hattie’s ear. Daughter of a duke and the Irish actress he loved so much he’d made her a duchess, Nora had the kind of brashness that was allowed in those with impervious titles and scads of money. “There’s a bloke in the gig, Hattie.”

Hattie did not look away from the bloke in question. “Yes, I see that.”

“There wasn’t a bloke in the gig when we hitched the horses.”

“No, there wasn’t.” They’d left the hitched—and most definitely empty—carriage in the dark rear drive of Sedley House not three-quarters of an hour earlier, before hiking upstairs to exchange carriage-hitching dresses for attire more appropriate for their evening plans.

At some point between corset and kohl, someone had left her an extraordinarily unwelcome package.

“Seems we would’ve noticed a bloke in the gig,”

“I should think we would have,” came Hattie’s distracted reply. “This is really just awful timing.”

Nora cut her a look. “Is there a good time for a man to be bound in one’s carriage?”

Hattie imagined there wasn’t, but, “He could have selected a different evening. What a terrible birthday gift.” She squinted into the dark interior of the carriage. “Do you think he’s dead?”

Please, don’t let him be dead.

Silence. Then, a thoughtful, “Does one store dead men in carriages?” Nora reached forward, her coachman’s coat pulling tight over her shoulders, and poked the dead man in question. He did not move. “He’s not moving,” she added. “Could be dead.”

Hattie sighed, removing a glove and leaning into the carriage to place two fingers to the man’s neck. “I’m sure he’s not dead.”

“What are you doing?” Nora whispered, urgently. “If he’s not dead, you’ll wake him!”

“That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world,” Hattie pointed out. “Then we could ask him to kindly exit our conveyance and we could be on our way.”

“Oh, yes. This brute seems like precisely the kind of man who would immediately do just that and not immediately take his revenge. He’d no doubt doff his cap and wish us a fine good evening.”

“He’s not wearing a cap,” Hattie pointed out, unable to refute any of the rest of the assessment of the mysterious, possibly dead man. He was very broad, and very solid, and even in the darkness she could tell that this wasn’t a man with whom one took a turn about a ballroom.

This was the kind of man who ransacked a ballroom.

“What do you feel?” Nora pressed.

“No pulse.” Though she wasn’t precisely certain of the location one would find a pulse. “But he’s—”

Warm.

Dead men were not warm, and this man was very warm. Like a fire in winter. The kind of warm that made someone realize how cold she might be.

Ignoring the silly thought, Hattie moved her fingers down the column of his neck, to the place where it disappeared beneath the collar of his shirt, where the curve of his shoulder and the slope of…the rest of him… met in a fascinating indentation.

“Anything now?”

“Quiet.” Hattie held her breath. Nothing. She shook her head.

“Christ.” It wasn’t a prayer.

Hattie couldn’t have agreed more. But then…

There. A small flutter. She pressed a touch more firmly. The flutter became firm. Slow. Even. “I feel it. She said. “He’s alive.” She repeated herself. “He’s alive.” She exhaled, long and relieved. “He’s not dead.”

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About Sarah MacLean

New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller SARAH MACLEAN is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical romance from the Romance Writers of America.

Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. She is the author of a monthly column celebrating the best of the genre for the Washington Post. Her advocacy for romance and the women who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com's “Sheroes” list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to call her "gracefully furious."

A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

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Giveaway

Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends on 8/12/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copy out to the winner directly.

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