Monday, August 5, 2019

Tour Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway - - Brazen and the Beast

Brazen and the Beast
by Sarah MacLean
Bareknuckle Bastards - Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

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.

My thoughts:

What a wonderful, wonderful story. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen next but, at the same time, I wanted to slow down and savor each delicious word. I guess I'm just going to have to read it again. And again. And again. And again. I cried. I laughed. I sighed. I cheered! This book is Sarah MacLean at her best and that is a very high bar. It's earned only my third Top Dish rating of the year and is on my Best of 2019 watch list. 

I loved Whit, I really did, and he and Hattie together are magic, but the heart and soul of this book is Hattie and she. is. everything. In Hattie, MacLean has created a heroine for every woman who, at some point in her life, has been told she doesn't "fit." Maybe she's too tall, too large, too smart, too loud, too ambitious. Too....whatever. I adored her. I admired her. I wanted to be her. 

In Whit, she's also created Hattie's perfect match. Covent Garden king, master smuggler, a bastard born, Whit is a man who rules his world, dispatching enemies swiftly and without remorse. But, he's also a man with deep, emotional wounds, a love of books, a well-hidden caring for those for whom he feels responsible, and a flaming desire for this bold, beautiful woman who eagerly matches wits with the master, who goes toe to toe with him on his own turf, who thrives on their encounters. (I spent most of the book alternating between wanting to hit him and hug him but at the end, like Hattie, I just wanted to love him.)

Other than Hattie's best friend, Nora (and please, Sarah MacLean, we need a Nik and Nora story!), Whit is the only person who not only sees Hattie's many positive qualities but values them. Values her. Their journey kept me flipping pages as fast as I could to see what would happen next, all the while knowing I'd be returning to the beginning as soon as I finished the book to slowly savor each delicious twist and turn the second time through. And speaking of delicious, these two have off-the-charts chemistry that had me reaching for a fan more than once, especially during one memorable scene on the deck of a ship, under a starry sky. Mostly, though, Brazen and the Beast had me cheering for an incredible woman who takes control of her life, celebrating her strength and her worth, fighting for her happiness, her dreams, for the recognition and responsibility she's earned, and standing shoulder to shoulder with the strong, caring, stubborn man who loves her not in spite of her differences but because of them. I have no doubt that these two will brilliantly rule their corner of England together as they go forward, side by side, equally matched, in life and in love.

As for me, I think I'll go back and reread both Wicked and the Wallflower and Brazen and the Beast (probably more than once) as I impatiently await Grace and Ewan's story in next year's Daring and the Duke. I can't wait. 

What was your last 5-star read?

What would you do if you found a bound, beautiful man in your carriage?

Have you read any Sarah MacLean books? Do you have a favorite series? Book? Character or couple?

Have you read Brazen and the Beast yet? Thoughts? 

One person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM (Eastern), August 6, will receive a print copy of Brazen and the Beast. (U.S. only) 

Brazen and the Beast
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
“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
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?



  1. I finished this last night - ok this morning technically. I loved everything about it! I want a Nik and Nora book too!

    1. I'm really hoping she has more planned for them. Maybe a novella?

    2. A novella would be great! I really want to see more of them!

  2. If I found a man in my carriage I would take good care of him and hope for the best. I have read Sarah MacLean's captivating novels. My last 5 star read was Dragonfly by Leila Meacham.

    1. Hattie has a slightly different idea (wink) but it all works out in the end.

  3. I have this book on my Next-to-be-read pile. Can't wait to start it. Loved the first book in the series. I've read several other books by Sarah and enjoy her stories so much. I think the last book I gave a 5-star rating to was Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries. But then anything Sabrina writes earns 5 stars IMHO!

    1. Oh, I loved Project Duchess too! I hope you enjoy Brazen and the Beast as much as I did. Make sure you have a clear schedule. It's hard to put down!

  4. Sarah's books are intriguing.A five star novel which was unforgettable was a historical, The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman. What an exciting prospect and encounter with a stranger in a carriage.

    1. Alyson Richman is so good. I haven't read The Velvet Hours yet. Off to take a closer look. :)

  5. Sarah is new to me. I've only read "Nine Rules to Break While Romancing a Rake". But with all the great reviews I've read, I'll definitely be reading Brazen. The last 5 star book I read was "Confessions of a Dangerous Lord" by Elisa Braden. I've really enjoyed all the books of that series up to current read. Because I've been married 36 years, if I found a bound man in a carriage, I'd ascertain why he was bound and then let him go if I deemed him harmless enough.

    1. I really do need to check out Elisa Braden. I've been hearing about her books a lot lately.

  6. I love so much Sarah MacLean. I've read all of her books. My favorites are The Rules of Scoundrels,especially Michael & Penélope. My latest 5 star book was the Duchess War by Courtney Milan. Looking forward to read about Hattie and Whit ❤️

  7. Thanks for the review. Sarah's books can be a bit hit-or-miss for me, but this sounds good. I really liked Nine Rules to Break While Romancing a Rake & A Rogue By Any Other Name, but No Good Duke Goes Unpunished had such an unlikeable & selfish heroine throughout the entire book.

  8. I finished reading this one last week--and it's definitely a 5 star for me for all the things you said and then some. The Year of Hattie--I mean, I wanted to have a Year of Hellie just from Hattie's manifesto alone--and no matter how badly everything seemed to be going, she kept doing. The best heroine! Also the cover was perfect. I was like, "OMG, a heroine with REAL breasts! Not silocone breasts on a skinny frame! But breasts that go on a sturdy heroine--and her arm! She has a real arm!" That cover was everything; and the story was everything and more.

    Technically speaking the "last" 5 star review I read was Anne Gracie's newest MARRY IN SECRET because I read it after BRAZEN and finished it yesterday...this has just been an excellent week for new releases with more to come in the next few, as you've shown.

  9. Awesome writer--loved "A Rogue by Any Other Name"--would be fabulous to win "Brazen and the Beast"!!!

  10. Have not read this one yet.

    The last 5 star read - One and Only You by Cindy Kirk. If I found a man (beautiful or otherwise)tied up in my carriage, ( a 20 year old carriage at that) I would assume that someone felt I was need in something to cheer me. They would be right.

    I loved the excerpt. It is evident that Hattie is a brilliant woman with priorities all in a row.

    Thanks for the review. Of course you realize, you are breaking me. I NEED so many fine books because of you.

  11. I read a few of her books before.
    My last 5 star read was savage thunder by Johanna lindsey. I am bingeing on johanna books right now

  12. My favorite Sarah MacLean books are the Rules of Scoundrels series. I enjoyed each book in the series.

    My last 5-star reads were also in a series. This was the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews.

  13. I’m so looking forward to reading this one! I’ve read as many MacLean books I could get my hands on. I still love the first one of her books that I read—Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. It was so fresh, and fun, and witty. It set a high bar for the rest of her books. Thanks so much for the post and giveaway.

  14. I've enjoyed several of Sarah's series - this looks like another good one.

  15. I haven't read any of Sarah's books yet.

  16. I have yet to read Ms. MacLean's books but she is on my must read list. I know my daughter loves her. My last 5-star read was Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins.

  17. Sarah MacLean is the best. I love her books - and her reviews! She is generous in her support of other great authors, a staunch champion of the romance genre AND positivity and light! Cannot wait to read this one. Am grateful for this opportunity!

  18. My last 5 star was Once Upon a Tartan by Grace Burrowes. She makes me laugh and cry. Sarah MacLean is on my tbr list!

  19. Can’t wait to read this story. I don’t know what I’d do if I found a man tied up in my carriage. What a dilemma.

  20. I love Sarah's books and hope to read this one soon. I met her a few years back and will see her in September. Bourne is my favorite character. With Nick St. John a close second.


  21. My last 5 star read was The Kiss Quotient. If I found a bound, handsome man in my carriage, I would likely untie him and assume he had been wronged (therefore not likely to be a danger to me). I love this author's books and one that stands out for me was The Rogue Not Taken, angsty and satisfying. I have not read Brazen and the Beast yet, though I plan to in the near future. Thoroughly enjoyed the snippet!

  22. I have several of her books in my TBR pile, but I haven't had a chance to read them yet! If I'm honest though, anything and everything that even hints at a Beauty and the Beast trope immediately catches my attention! Hattie sounds absolutely wonderful too, the kind of heroine that's my absolute favorite! Thank you for the review, you just guaranteed I'll go out and buy this on my next paycheck!