Avon. (Hell’s Belles, Bk. 1). Aug. 2021. 400p. ISBN 9780063056152. pap. $8.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Lady Sesily Talbot has always courted scandal in Victorian London, and she’s never been concerned with what others think of her. Her constant flouting of the rules of the ton (Britain’s high society) soon leads her to a group of women who use their power and intellect to solve problems where others have looked away. In the recent past, it also led Sesily to Caleb Calhoun, the one man who not only refused her advances but ran away from her; he sailed to the States the day after she confessed her attraction to him. Now, two years later, Caleb is back, and he’s distressingly curious about Sesily’s clandestine activities. Will danger and espionage draw them together, or will their secrets force them apart once again? MacLean (“Bareknuckle Bastards” series) kicks off a planned series with this feminist historical romance that’s full of witty dialogue and plenty of steamy scenes. The plot is well written and fast paced; its twists and turns pull the reader along on Sesily’s missions and introduce unforgettable secondary characters. Caleb, who at first seems to be an alpha hero, has radical thoughts, hidden depths, and a willingness to embrace chaos, and he is increasingly likeable as the novel progresses.
VERDICT MacLean’s dedicated fan base will be eagerly awaiting this novel, but it will also appeal to other romance readers who are unfamiliar with her body of work. Highly recommended for general purchase.
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