There are some romance novels where the feisty leading female is a self insert character created for readers to enjoy kicking back and falling in love with a dynamic male lead. A gorgeous, mysterious, dangerous, charming, capital h Hero.
There are some that make you love the couple. The Power of Love transformation leaves the reader full of sighs and swooning. All the babies ever after novellas are purchased. The fan cast board on Pinterest is lovingly curated. The couple is everything because together they are greater than they were alone.
Oh, but then…
Then there are the gems where the heroine is a warrior goddess in a ballgown. She shoves her reticule into the hero’s impressive chest, straightens her shoulders and, with violet eyes blazing, she goes out to claim the life and love owed to her.
Come hell or high water.
And then she does it. Slow motion walking in her badass ballgown as the world explodes around her.
The hero, and the readers, are simply left in awe.
Enter Hattie Sedley.
Sarah MacLean’s Brazen and the Beast is one of the best romance novels of the last five years. Hattie Sedley is one of the best modern romance novel heroines… maybe ever. This is icon status. Hail Queen Hattie!
Just look at her.
That mature, grounded confidence.
I’ll say it.
I love Hattie Sedley.
From the publisher:
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.
I love a woman with a list and a goal. It’s probably one of my all time favorite tropes. Important Date + List = Emily’s Book Addiction.
Hattie is a full figured heroine who is tired of waiting for the marriage train. She’s going to take her boats and sail to her fortune. And then a hero, inspired by Tom Hardy, falls head over heels for her…
Literally, because she shoves him out of her carriage.
Because she doesn’t have the time for him. She has goals!!
Her entire life she has been told she’s not good enough. She’s too much, too big, wants too much. Instead of hiding she decided to get bigger and go after her dreams. But then there’s this man in her way…
Let’s Talk About the Romance
Hattie and Beast are a perfect paring. They spark and crackle off of the page from go. Sometimes when you have a couple with such spark, it can get frustrating when the plot gets in the way. However, MacLean crafts such a great story with solid, dynamic motivations which keeps the characters sparing – that it’s okay it takes so much time for them to follow through with their romantic tension. The conflict makes the romance stronger, deeper, and shows the couple that they are truly a forever pairing.
Their big moment happens after the 50% mark, but it’s worth the wait and it’s paaaages long. It’s a true transformative scene of love and passion that crashes with emotion. It’s perfectly tied into the need / want of the characters and packs such a punch.
The Bareknuckle Bastards Plot
At the end of Wicked and the Wallflower the Bareknuckle Bastards lied to the evil Duke and told him that Grace, the true heir and the love / obsession of his life, was dead. The Duke snapped. He went from a cool, calculating, manipulative villain to wildly mad super villain. A man pushed to the brink by grief.
It’s fantastic. He looms over our beloved characters making threats and declarations of death and destruction. I really enjoyed this nasty version of the duke rather than the stiff guy we got in Wicked and the Wallflower. I cannot wait to fully dive into his and Grace’s story. Daring and the Duke is going to be Amazing!
In the backstory we learn that Beast, the large and burly bruiser, was a smaller child. The self-proclaimed runt of the litter. So when he faces The Duke, they are far more equally matched and it makes for an amazing face-off.
We’re deep in the action adventure plot here. It’s just as dynamic as the romance, which is thrilling to read and raises the stakes sky high. It’s a well balanced book that doesn’t drag or get bogged down on itself.
If you enjoyed Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal or Eloisa James’s When Beauty Tamed the Beast. This is for you. I’d say that this is a great entry level historical romance for the more action oriented reader looking for a quality smooching book.
“I know it sounds mad. Like the wild dreams of a girl with no sense. But it’s not mad. I don’t need protection from it. I need a partner for it. I want it all.”Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean p. 345