I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Daring and the Duke (The Bareknuckle Bastards, #3) by Sarah MacLean
Published by Avon on June 30, 2020
FINAL DECISION: I’ve liked each book in this series less. Unfortunately, this series does not live up to previous ones by this author. The romance was weak, the hero was boring after being built up as the villain in prior books, and the heroine didn’t seem to actually love the hero. I’ve been a big fan of the author, but I was disappointed in this one.
THE STORY: Grace Condry is the Queen of Covent Gardens as the owner of a women’s brothel — where women go to get their pleasure. Her past confronts her in the form of the Ewan, the Duke of Marwick, a man who was once the boy who loved her and betrayed her in order to gain the dukedom. Now a threat to Grace and her brothers, Ewan must be defeated and Grace is the only one who can do that.
OPINION: There is something wrong with a romance that seems to hate the hero. Ewan is inscrutable in this book and he seems to be merely a foil for the heroine’s drama. I prefer books about two (or sometimes more) people changing and growing together which respects both characters. This book doesn’t care about Ewan. All of his growth and change happens off screen and is less believable for that. And, ultimately, his prior “villain” behavior is a trick. I loved redeemed characters, but here it is ultimately the heroine and her brothers who look bad.
This book has a big job — to redeem a villain. I think this book fails. Not because Ewan is not redeemed, but because the book doesn’t do the hard work of redemption. Instead, Ewan is misunderstood from the beginning. Unfortunately for MacLean, there is an amazing book about the redemption of a hero who seems nonredeemable — her own book DAY OF THE DUCHESS. Same general story arch, much better characters, plot, drama and the grovel there was amazing. This book feels like a retread that isn’t as good. In fact, skip this book and read DAY OF THE DUCHESS instead.
I really did love the relationship between Grace, Whit and Devil which was wonderfully loving and combative — just as I expect siblings to be. I also thought Whit and Devil’s insights into what drive Ewan was just about perfect. Two men deeply in love can recognize it in Ewan — even if they don’t want to.
WORTH MENTIONING: There are little Easter eggs for fans of MacLean’s other books.
CONNECTED BOOKS: DARING AND THE DUKE is the third book in the Bareknuckle Bastards series. It is not necessary to read other books in the series to read this book although there is a slight overarching storyline.
STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.
NOTE: I received an eARC from Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.