Release Date: Jul 29, 2019
Series: The Bareknuckle Bastards
Heat Level: Sensual/Hot
Imprint: Avon Books
Brazen and the Beast is the second book in Sarah MacLean’s The Bareknuckle Bastards series. It follows Lady Henrietta Sedley who has just turned twenty-nine and has decided to take her life into her hands with a series of carefully laid plans labeled under “The Year of Hattie”. The first of which includes experiencing the pleasures of “body” which she will inevitably have to live without as a spinster in her coming years. As she sets about this quest, she is stopped by the discovery of an unconscious, very handsome man in her carriage. The man turns out to be Saviour Whittington, one of the kings of Covent Garden and its underground network of illegal activities. Whit was trapped into the carriage by Hattie’s brother and finds himself drawn to her even as he is plotting to take down her brother. The two of them embark on a rivalry to gain control and power over their business, with a bit of pleasure thrown into the mix.
To get right into it, I was not a fan of this book – it is probably my least favourite from Sarah MacLean (who normally I love). There are a number of issues I have with this whole series that I will get into in a bit. Basically, if you have read the first book in the series (Wicked and the Wallflower), you can rest assured that you have read this book as well. The series is essentially about three brothers who are all born on the same day to three different women. Through a number of childhood occurrences which I won’t get into, two of the brothers are living in Covent Garden and have amassed wealth through illegal trading. The remaining brother has taken over their father’s title as Duke and is trying to kill his brothers while trying to find and stalk out their fake sister. This is the plot at the heart of this series. Seem kind of weird? Because it is!
The whole premise of Hattie taking over her father’s business seems a bit periodically inaccurate to me. Which is also echoed by some of the other characters in the book who tell her that woman cannot own a shipping business no matter how good at it they are. While I hate to type that, for that time period…I would agree. Especially for a woman whose father is an Earl (although she herself is not an aristocrat so I can understand why this was brushed aside). I love heroines who are strong in their own rights and find ways to work around the restrictions and cultures they were born into, and I just did not find that to be the case with Hattie. She had all these grand plans for taking control of her life but always seems to have them slip her mind a little whenever Whit’s body is close to hers. She quickly falls back to the “body” part of her plans to justify giving into him when she is supposed to be his rival fighting for her company.
My major problem with this book and this whole series is that there is an underlying theme of romanticizing problematic relationships. Whit (and his brother in the first book) seems to abuse his power to get what he wants and he holds this over Hattie, all in the name of protecting her from his brother. This caused a tremendous amount of hurt and pain to Hattie, and Whit does not properly explain his actions until very late into the novel, and yet Hattie just continues to forgive him every time he kisses her and then goes back to being mad at him. I think authors need to really stop romanticizing this type of mental back and forth that can actually be very harmful in real relationships. Additionally, the whole brother trying to kill them all subplot to get to a girl is also very problematic.
While I am a big fan of Sarah MacLean, this series is not one that I would personally recommend.