Wicked and the Wallflower
Series: The Bareknuckle Bastards #1
Release date: June 19th 2018
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
Source: Pure Textuality PR
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Trigger warnings: Heroine is grabbed in the street by a man with some hair-pulling, but it's over quickly
When Wicked Comes Calling...
When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She's seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won't accept a marriage without it.
The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain...
Bastard son of a duke and king of London's dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.
For the Promise of Passion...
But there's nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she'd rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil's carefully laid plans are in chaos, and he must choose between everything he's ever wanted...and the only thing he's ever desired.
The Faerie Queen’s review
Oh why oh why did it take me so long to read a book by Sarah MacLean when Emily literally introduced me to the author at a romance convention back in February?! Because that was so damn good. I am seduced.
At first, I was a little bit confused, what with the prologue (which you can read below) and opening scene making me think two characters were one and the same. I constructed this whole theory based on the prologue that I quickly learned was only partly true, and not entirely as relevant as I thought.
I loved Devil and his complexities, I loved the supporting characters – especially Grace, who immediately imprinted on me as a badass despite only a handful of scenes including her –, and I loved the whole world that was historical Covent Garden. (Fun fact, before reading this book, I actually went to a romance book club lunch in Covent Garden over the weekend, and the group hunted down an address featured in the book – which I did not understand the importance of at the time. Sadly, 72 Shelton Street is no longer an old bordello, but is now part of an office block.)
But you know what I loved most of all? Felicity. There was refreshing about Felicity being a former popular girl turned outcast overnight, struggling with being on the outside of what she used to be in the centre of. And instead of falling into the oft-used trope of Main Character Who Does Not Care What People Think, Felicity readily admitted wanting to be back in good standing with high society. Maybe not with the same group of friends – so nasty! – but still favoured.
“When you are ignored by the stars, you wonder if you might ever burn bright.”
We may turn our noses up at this, but not every female character needs to strike out on her own from the beginning. (Also, it’s very relatable, especially to teenage me who often wondered what it would be like to be popular.) It made seeing Felicity realise how much is out there for her to explore so much more rewarding, especially as she discovers that there are real people who have to work for a living beyond nobility – gasp! And let’s not forget her clever skill, lockpicking! She was always meant for a life of crime… 😛
“It’s not the kind of skill one expects a woman to have.”
“It’s exactly the kind of skill we should have. Our whole world is built by men. For them. And we’re simply here for decoration, brought in at the end of everything important. Well, I grow tired of ends. Locks are beginnings.”
I particularly loved how neither Devil nor Felicity saw their own worth, and they helped each other to realise what was already there. This was especially true for Felicity, who wanted Devil to teach her and change her, and while she did get some nice new clothes, he tried to teach her that everything she needed to burn bright was already in her. And their chemistry, both verbal and physical, had me chuckling and squirming, it was so intoxicating!
“I’m going to steal you,” he confessed again. “I’m going to steal you and make you mine.”
“It’s not theft if I allow it,” she whispered.
Silly girl; of course it was. But it wouldn’t stop him.
I um’d and ah’d about giving it 4.5 stars, even 5, because I was really caught up in the chemistry and the badassness of the characters. However, I decided to stick with 4 for a couple of reasons. First, I feel like Whit needed just a bit more development in this. I understand he’s the hero of book 2, but I just found him a bit…flat. Given how Grace stood out so much as a character, I feel like Whit could have been more fleshed out, too.
Second, the little mystery subplot was a little too slapdash towards the end, the big reveal of who the culprit was being too underwhelming. Again, I’m sure it’ll be continued a bit more in book 2 – or at least I hope so – but really? That’s how we find out? And tying into that, how did a certain person get into and out of a building if the people watching said building never saw them, even when it’s assured these watchers are brilliant at their job? #doesnotcompute
Still, an incredible book that has opened my eyes to the wonder that is Sarah MacLean. I can’t wait to read the next two books in the series, as well as work through her back catalogue!
Because I highlighted so many passages on my Kindle, I wanted to share some with you. These were things that made me laugh, struck me as profoundly true, and/or got me going.
“It’s difficult, as at this point, my mother has strict requirements for a suitor.”
“Oh,” she said. “I was unaware that men were so entirely susceptible to women’s clothing that it rendered them unable to control their hands.”
He hesitate, not like the direction of her words. “Well, some men.”
“Not you,” she said.
“I’m more than able to control my urges.”
Look at that stab at the Not All Men argument.
“Why should others be the ones to decide which doors are for me?”
Very true – why do we let others tell us what we can or cannot do or become?
The three were woven together long before they were aware, strands of spun, silken steel that could not be separated—not even when their fate insisted upon it.
Brothers, born on the same day, in the same hour, at the same minute to different women. The high-priced courtesan. The seamstress. The soldier’s widow. Born on the same day, in the same hour, at the same minute to the same man.
The duke, their father, whose arrogance and cruelty fate would punish without hesitation, stealing from him the only thing he wanted that his money and power could not buy—an heir.
It is the Ides of March the seers warn of, with its promise of betrayal and vengeance, of shifting fortune and inalienable providence. But for this sire—who was never more than that, never close to father—it was the Ides of June that would be his ruin.
Because on that same day, in that same hour, at that same minute, there was a fourth child, born to a fourth woman. To a duchess. And it was this birth—the birth all the world thought legitimate—that the duke attended, even as he knew the son who was to be his heir in name and fortune and future was not his own and still, somehow, was his only hope.
Except she was a daughter.
And with her first breath, she thieved future from them all, as powerful in her infancy as she would become in her womanhood. But hers is a story for another time.
This story begins with the boys.
Open internationally. Two winners will each receive a $10 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 6/29/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Pure Textuality PR is responsible for the prize and will send the prizes out to the winners directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.