ROMANCE

Brazen and the Beast

Avon. (Bareknuckle Bastards, Bk. 2). Aug. 2019. 400p. ISBN 9780062692078. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062691989. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
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Lady Henrietta Sedley is determined to inherit the family business, regardless of society’s expectations of women in Victorian England. She’s certain the way to do this is to ruin herself for marriage. Declaring her 29th year the Year of Hattie, she embarks on her plans. But things go off the rails almost before they start when she encounters a strange but impossibly beautiful man bound at the wrists and ankles in the carriage she’d planned to use for her escape. Saviour Whittington may rule Covent Garden and the rest of London as Beast, one of the Bareknuckle Bastards, but he’s taken aback by Hattie’s frank and intelligent demeanor. Convinced she knows who orchestrated the attacks on his family’s smuggling business, he proposes a trade: he’ll bring about Hattie’s ruin if she reveals what she knows.
VERDICT Combining dark humor and plenty of heat between our brazen leads, and offering intriguing glimpses of the next installment, MacLean (Wicked and the Wallflower) once again gives us an independent-minded heroine discovering the possibilities of a future with a dangerous leader of Covent Garden’s underbelly.

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