Monday, July 22, 2019

Giveaway/Sneak Peek/Review of Brazen and the Beast (The Bareknuckle Bastards, #2) by Sarah MacLean

 Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean

New York Times Bestselling Author Sarah MacLean returns with the next book in the Bareknuckle Bastards series about three brothers bound by a secret that they cannot escape—and the women who bring them to their knees.

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.

Chapter One

September 1837

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—”

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.”

“Excellent. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s unconscious in the carriage, and you have somewhere to be.” She paused. “We should leave him and take the curricle.”

Hattie had been planning for this particular excursion on this particular night for a full three months. This was the night that would begin her twenty-ninth year. The year her life would become her own. The year she would become her own. And she had a very specific plan for a very specific location at a very specific hour, for which she had donned a very specific frock. And yet, as she stared at the man in her carriage, specifics seemed not at all important.

What seemed important was seeing his face.

Clinging to the handle at the edge of the door, Hattie collected the lantern from the upper rear corner of the carriage before swinging back out to face Nora, whose gaze flickered immediately to the unlit container.

Nora tilted her head. “Hattie. Leave him. Let’s take the curricle.”

“Just a peek,” Hattie replied.

The tilt became a shake. “If you peek, you’ll regret it.”

“I have to peek,” Hattie insisted, casting about for a decent reason—ignoring the odd fact that she was unable to tell her friend the truth. “I have to untie him.”

“Not necessarily,” Nora pointed out. “Someone thought he was best left tied up, and who are we to disagree?” Hattie was already reaching into the pocket of the carriage door for a flint. “What of your plans?”

There was plenty of time for her plans. “Just a peek,” she repeated, the oil in the lantern catching fire. She closed the door and turned to face the carriage, lifting the light high, casting a lovely golden glow over—

“Oh, my,” she said.

Nora choked back a laugh. “Not such a bad gift after all, perhaps.”

The man had the most beautiful face Hattie had ever seen. The most beautiful face anyone had ever seen, she imagined. She leaned closer, taking in his warm, bronze skin, the high cheekbones, the long, straight nose, the dark slashes of his brows and the impossibly long lashes that lay like feathers against his cheeks.

“What kind of man…” she trailed off. Shook her head.

What kind of man looked like this?

What kind of man looked like this and somehow landed in the carriage of Hattie 

Sarah MacLean

A life-long romance reader, Sarah MacLean wrote her first romance novel on a dare, and never looked back. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical romances and a columnist for The Washington Post, where she writes about the romance genre. She lives in New York City. Visit her at

Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Bareknuckle Bastards (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 560 pages
Publisher: HarperLuxe; Larger Print edition (July 30, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0062911503
ISBN-13: 978-0062911506
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my review. 

She is determined to get what she has always dreamt of...

Lady Henrietta 'Hattie' Sedley is firmly on the shelf, and that is okay with her for she has a plan. A four-point plan to captain her own fate... Business. Home. Fortune. Future. It is the eve of her twenty-ninth birthday and at this point anyone who wishes to marry her will be after her dowry, and she does't want to be married to someone who only wants her for her dowry. After years of going to ball after ball, suffering through one Season after another, she's decided it is time to take fate into her own hands. She is convinced if she can prove herself, her father will let her manage and takeover the family business. She believes there is only one obstacle in her way, that once removed will clear the way for what she desires, and that is to do away with the one thing that is prized about her, her innocence. That brings us to the fifth point on her list--Body. She is determined this will be her year. The Year of Hattie!

He is determined to find the person who'd been stealing from him...

Beast, one of the brothers known as the Bareknuckle Bastards, has had four shipments stolen on route to his customers. The latest being taken from underneath his very nose. While riding with his crew, they are set upon by thieves, and minutes later he awakes in a carriage to a woman's voice. When she dispatches him from her moving carriage, he quickly rights himself and sets about finding her. Something easily accomplished when one has spies all over the city. She is his only lead. 

    "They call me Beast."
     She shook her head. "That's"--she searched for the word--"ludicrous."
     "'re the most beautiful man I've ever seen."(...)"I imagine it's meant to be ironic?" 
     "It's Not," he said, lowering his hand. 
     She blinked. I don't understand." 
     "You will."
     The promise sent a thread of unease through her. "I will?"
     He reached for her again, cupping her cheek in her palm, making her want to turn into the heat of him. "Those who steal from me. Who threaten what is mine. They see the truth of it." 
This is the second book in The Bareknuckle Bastards series and, oh my goodness, if there's one romance you have to read this year, this is it. The book is devilishly delicious, or dare I say, Bewitchingly Beastly? Either way, this one turned up the heat, and whoever dared Ms. MacLean to write her first novel has my sincere thanks.  

This series centers around three brothers and a sister. The brothers were all born on the same day, in the same hour, at the same minute to different women, but to the same father. The sister was born on the same day, in the same hour, at the same minute, but to a Duchess of whom the Duke was not the father. The daughter, ironically, was the only one considered legitimate of the lot. The boys would have been forgotten if the Duke could have sired more heirs or his daughter, who wasn't really his, had been born a boy. The Duke, however, needed an heir so he replaced the daughter with one of the brothers who then became the Duke's heir while the "sister" and other two brothers, then fourteen, fled to the streets to get out from under the thumb of the cruel man they dared not call father. There they made their own way, on their own terms. They are the base for the series, and Beast is one of the siblings who fled. 

Saviour Whittington, aka Beast, is a man of few words. He, his brother, Devil, and their sister, Grace, grew up on the darkest streets of London doing what they needed to survive. They clawed their way up, bringing those around them with them, and are recognized and revered in the Rookery of Covent Garden which they claimed as their own. Known as the Bareknuckle Bastards, they are said to be the most powerful men in East London. They are not the types one messes with. They are smugglers by trade, but also own several above board businesses, and have secured the loyalty of all who dwell in Coven Garden through money, might, and, most importantly, the way they do business. 

Hattie is the daughter of an Earl, however, she grew up on the docks. Her father wasn't born into the aristocracy, he earned his title from the King for nobility at sea. He owns one of the biggest shipping companies in London, and Hattie knows the workings of it inside and out. She's smart, keen, and clever, but unfortunately was born female in a man's world. She feels she doesn't fit in anywhere and is determined to prove to her father she should inherit the company, and not her brother who undoubtedly would ruin it. When she finds an unconscious man in her carriage she immediately knows who to blame--her brother--and wonders what he's gotten himself into. She soon finds out.

When Hattie and Beast meet, sparks fly. They are well matched in many ways even though they seem to be complete opposites, and most would think them to be an unlikely pair. They both feel a bit like misfits who don't quite fit in anywhere. As they get to know one another, however, she appears to be the yin to his yang and vice versa. Though they come from different worlds, the biggest hurdle they have to overcome is Hattie's brother's ill planned scheme to steal from the Bareknuckle Bastards. An action which could get him killed.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. Ms. MacLean never disappoints, and this book is another example of why she is one of my favorite romance writers. It was a fun and sexy romance that was enjoyable in the extreme. This is my favorite story of the year thus far. The chemistry between these two was so thick you could practically cut it with a knife. The way Hattie seems to fascinate Beast, against his better judgement, made me smile. The first couple of chapters had me grinning from ear to ear while ensnaring me hook, line, and sinker. I was a total goner, and couldn't put the book down until I finished. For the record, I've read this one twice--something I rarely do especially in quick succession! On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a  SHOWER rating--a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning - make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. lol I HIGHLY recommend this one!

Order of the Bareknuckle Bastards Series:

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(Open to those living in the United States or Canada)
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  1. I enjoyed Sarah's Love by the Numbers series

  2. I really love this bare knuckled bastard series, I have been waiting for the brazen and the beast book with bated breath. Love your books Sarah Maclean , keep rocking ��

  3. I am so excited about this book. I have read almost all her books and she is an amazing author!

  4. New author for me. Beautiful cover. Thanks.


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