Series: Bareknuckle Bastards #1
Published by Avon on June 19, 2018
Genres: Regency Romance
Source: Advance Reader Copy, edelweiss
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When Wicked Comes Calling... When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She's seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won't accept a marriage without it. The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain... Bastard son of a duke and king of London's dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy. For the Promise of Passion... But there's nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she'd rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil's carefully laid plans are in chaos, and he must choose between everything he's ever wanted...and the only thing he's ever desired.
Note: I read and reviewed this book over on A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet a couple weeks ago, and decided to review it here too. Their requirements is a little different from my normal style, so if you’d like to read it, you can go here.
This review is more my style, but pretty much says all the same things.
Sarah MacLean has wrecked me. This book. THIS BOOK.
I didn’t even read the blurb on this one, because Sarah MacLean has never let me down. One of my favorite books of all time is Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, and with that book, MacLean hooked me. Add that to the fact that I’m a sucker for a wallflower/bad boy romance, and it’s my personal catnip.
In Wicked and the Wallflower we see the heroine embarrassingly announce to a room full of the Ton’s biggest gossips that she has landed the reclusive Duke of Marwick. (spoiler alert: she hasn’t. In fact they’ve never met).
Felicity Faircloth (you might remember her from The Day of the Duchess) is the daughter of an earl. She should have had a fairy tale life, and she almost did, yet she’s on the shelf. Not ruined, not completely, but it’s a close thing. She wants nothing more than to go back to being the belle of the ball. She wants her friends back, she wants her old life back. She tries not to think too hard about the fact that if her friends turned their backs on her, maybe they weren’t really friends to begin with. Growing as a character, she realizes that even once she’s accepted back into the fold, once again the belle of the ball, those “friends” are still awful people. She realizes not only are the people she’s been dying to get back to not worth her time, but she learns who she is, and who she wants to be. She’s 27, but finally figuring herself out. It’s a wonderful journey. Watching her go from shrinking wallflower to confident woman is so beautiful and satisfying.
He overhears her one night at a ball, and while he’s there to exact revenge against someone, he wonders if he can use her to do just that. He offers to help her land the duke she’s just announced her engagement to. He lets her know he can make it happen, and while she doesn’t believe him, he is able to deliver. Felicity is floored. Who is this man skulking about in the darkness, delivering her an engagement to the duke? He’s not a good man. Or so he would tell her. He offers her everything she wants: marriage to a duke, adoration, attention, the whole fairy tale, everything she thinks she wants. But as with every fairy tale, this comes at a price. Is she willing to pay?
Devil is the bastard son of a duke, and so are his two brothers and sister. He had a hard life, and as a man he’s even harder. He’s a bastard both literally and figuratively, and I really loved him. Don’t mistake him for being hard on the outside, but a big softie on the inside, because he isn’t. He rules Covent Garden with an iron fist. But I think that’s why his fall is so much sweeter. Watching him learn to love Felicity is his true strength. With Devil, a Bareknuckle Bastard of Covent Garden, as Felicity’s fairy godfather, she can have anything.
And she wants him so very much.
What I loved about this book, about these characters, is how much I don’t want to leave them. I finished the last page and was so sad there weren’t more. Her world is so fascinating and vivid. They feel real, they feel organic, and because they are so easy to relate to, you feel as if you are a part of their world. Devil and Felicity drew me into their lives so easily that the dark moments felt so realistic, and I’m not a crier but I bawled. Sarah MacLean’s talent lies in the emotion she evokes, and this book had me in knots.
Each Sarah MacLean book is a promise. This book promises you a happy ending, of course, but it also promises to twist you inside out before you get there. It promises that you will not only love the characters, but you will feel as though you are in this book. You are one of her characters, and you won’t want to leave the world she’s created. A high-born lady and a base-born man is nothing new in Romancelandia. But what she does with them, where she takes you with this book, Reader, you’ve never read anything like it. She grips you from the first word, and she won’t let you go. Even once the book is closed, even once the words are read, they are still there, in your head, never letting you go. And you won’t want them to leave. You’ll want to stay in her world, in the vivid and richly colorful world she’s drawn you in to, and you will want more. You will always want more.
And you will be in luck, because as soon as you read this, as soon as you close the book, you know you can pick up any one of her books and have these same feelings, these same desires, because her books promise you that. And I promise you that you will love this book.
***ARC courtesy of Avon Books