SOCIAL MEDIA

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Love Story I've Been Waiting For: Daring And The Duke by Sarah MacLean

DARING AND THE DUKE

by Sarah MacLean
Series: The Bareknucle Bastards #3
Genres: Historical, Romance, Adult
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: June 30th 2020
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★★★1/2
Kiss Factor: ✷✷✷✷1/2

Oh, man! Daring and the Duke was so so good! Most fans of this series have been highly anticipating this book in particular because Ewan and Grace have such a tumultuous history together. For me, this book was everything I was hoping for them and I'm so pleased with how Sarah MacLean handled Ewan's redemption!

Sarah MacLean always writes terrific female characters, but Grace is probably my favorite heroine from her. She was a badass young woman who had turned her life around and was considered a Queen in Convent Garden. She used to be a fighter and now ran a club geared towards women. She had a tough shell because life had forced her to grow up faster than most people. Despite that, Grace could be equally soft and vulnerable when it came to the people that she loved. Her loyalty towards her brothers, Devil and Whit, and her team of women was admirable. I liked the duality of her tenacious and sensitive sides. It made her very real to me and easy to connect with.

Grace also had a weak spot when it came to the only man she has ever loved, Ewan. These two! My goodness, the chemistry and history between them made their relationship so intense. Ewan has gone most of his adult life thinking that his childhood love and the girl he hurt back in the day was dead. Ewan was a rather villainous/anti-hero character in the first two books of this series, so I was really curious to see how Sarah MacLean would redeem him. There were reasons why Ewan behaved the way he did. Underneath it all, he was a man madly in love with Grace and distraught from the grief of having lost her. That doesn't mean all his past actions were okay and neither the author nor Grace condoned his mistakes. He has to work hard to make amends and Grace (and Devil and Whit) put him through the wringer, rightfully so. He handled everything she threw at him with devotion and more. I think Sarah MacLean wrote his character arc so well and I could not have been more satisfied.

Despite the many years that had passed between them, their chemistry and love for each other only seemed to burn brighter than ever. There were moments of heartache and misunderstandings, but more than anything this was a story of their reunion and how they had to overcome the numerous emotional obstacles in their way. It was a lovely journey, in my opinion, and I could not have asked for a more gratifying love story for these two characters that I grew to love so much.

Daring and the Duke was a remarkable romance novel. I really did love this story to bits and this entire series holds a special place in my heart. I could not have been happier with this ending.

***


Hi, friends!

I'm so excited to have Sarah MacLean stop by and answer a few burning questions I had for her. I hope you guys enjoy reading Sarah's responses as much as I did!

For readers new to the series, how would you pitch THE BAREKNUCKLE BASTARDS using only three words?

Sexy Criminals Smooching

If you were a Bareknucle Bastard yourself, what would your ideal role within the organization be? 

While I wish i were clever enough to mastermind crime or cunning enough to run a network of spies, I fear I'd really blow it. I'm good at getting things done, though, so I think I'd be great at managing operations. Making sure the ships got emptied, the goods got moved, and everyone got paid. Basically, Annika's job! 

Ewan's character arc from anti-hero to romance hero was a work of art throughout the series. How did you ensure that his character growth was realistic to turn him from this almost-villain to a romance-worthy hero in DARING & THE DUKE? Did you encounter any challenges during this process?

Oh, I'm so happy his evolution worked for you! I'm laughing because I feel like the whole writing of Ewan's arc was a challenge! I was so terrified because I knew he would be the hero of the third book, but he still had to be the villain of the first two -- so I could never pull my punch, even as I knew eventually, his choices were all going to be reassessed through the new lens of the past. But ultimately, I knew what had happened on that long-ago night from the start, and I knew how broken he would be by the 20 years between then and the events of the book...so I was in love with him from the beginning -- even when he was at his very worst...which maybe made writing his character growth easier.

You write some of the best female characters. Grace from DARING & THE DUKE is probably one of my favorites. If Grace could be best friends with any of your other female characters, who would it be? What is one personality trait you would want all readers to take away from her character?

What a gorgeous compliment! I love my heroines even more than my heroes, so it's always nice when other people agree that they're good people. I think the easiest answer to this question is that Grace and Chase would be good friends -- both masterminds, both brilliant businesswomen, both dealing in information, both falling for men who understand how to support them. But I think Grace and Seraphina would also make great friends! But let's be honest...that's a fearsome threesome if ever I saw one! 

It's Christmas dinner and Grace told (threateningly) everyone to play nice. Who would break out in an argument or bicker first?

Devil. What a delicious jerk that guy is! But Felicity would kick him under the table and threaten to Lysistrata him, so everything would turn out well in the end, I bet.

Since you're a NYC girl if Grace & Ewan could time travel to modern-day NYC, what would an ideal date night look like for them?

Coney Island. Ewan and Grace don't care about bells and whistles and where the posh people go. They have spent a lifetime wishing for family and for happiness and for lightness, so I'd like to imagine them on the boardwalk, with Ewan paying a fortune to win Grace a giant stuffed panda or something from one of the carnival booths. 

I am so excited for your next series titled HELL'S BELLES. What makes this series different from all your other series? Any fun fact you can share about the books?

I've always written really heroine forward books, but I've never written an entirely heroine connected series, which is what Hell's Belles will be. While I can't tell you a ton about it, what I can say is that I really really wish I were part of this girl gang, because having them at my back would make me feel absolutely invincible. Honestly, writing them at each others' backs is making me feel pretty great!

Thanks a lot to Sarah for stopping by! I hope my review and this interview convinces you to try this series if you haven't yet.

What are your thoughts on anti-heroes in romance novels?
Let me know in the comments below!