Series: Hell's Belles #2
Published by Avon on August 23, 2022
FINAL DECISION: Much better than the first in the series. I enjoyed the relationship between Adelaide and Henry. Much of the book is a road trip between them (only one bed at the inn!), so their relationship shines.
THE STORY: Adelaide Frampton spends her time in ballrooms watching as she pretends to be a wallflower, but she is actually the Matchbreaker who helps women avoid the altar. Adelaide has another secret; she was not born to the aristocracy but rather is the daughter of a crime lord. In her latest quest to help a young woman, Adelaide encounters Henry, Duke of Clayborn, who has tried to live the role of a duke to perfection. But Henry, too, has secrets. When Adelaide and Henry find themselves on opposite sides of stopping a wedding, the two take a journey across England, both thwarting and tantalizing one another.
OPINION: The strength of this book is the relationship between Henry and Adelaide. They spend much of the book together, which is good because there really isn’t much else to the book. The book feels like it walks through various tropes without deep emotional engagement. While the book lacks any real drama or tension between the main characters, there is a deep connection between the two — and both are very decent people.
Perhaps that is why this book is good, but not great. Because there is nothing for the two characters to confront or overcome in themselves, the story is flat. The whole Hell’s Belles series feels like superhero comics rather than romance. It feels like the book is ticking off a checklist rather than deeply rooted in the characters. While I liked Henry and Adelaide a lot, this is not a book that I would be compelled to pick up again.
This book is much better than the first in the series, but it does lack the emotional depth and angst of MacLean’s earlier — much superior — books.
WORTH MENTIONING: There are small mentions of other characters from the MacLean world, including the Wests.
CONNECTED BOOKS: HEARTBREAKER is the second book in the Hell’s Belle’s series. The romance here is self-contained so this book can be read as a standalone. There are appearances by characters in the series, however.
STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.