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  • Writer's pictureClaudine Gandolfi

Daring & The Duke - Sarah MacLean

Date Read: June 11, 2020

Review: I’ve been waiting for this third book for what feels like forever. I liked the first one quite a bit (Wicked & The Wallflower) and LOVED the second one (Brazen & The Beast).

Grace was born a Duke, named as a male heir that never was. The daughter of the Duchess and her lover. Born on the same day as 3 sons (Devon, Whit, and Ewan) the Duke had with his mistresses. None of them legitimate. As they grew, the Duke plotted to teach them all the ways of the aristocracy and had them compete with each other for his title. Grace and Ewan fell in love as young teenagers but then disaster struck, Ewan became a monster, tried to kill Grace and everyone else in order to win. Or so we think. He did become Duke. His brothers told him Grace was dead and he’s been trying to kill and destroy the others since. But Grace isn’t dead, only trying to stay hidden from him. Grace is the owner of a brothel for women. Ladies can spend the night seeking their pleasure in all different ways and she, as Dahlia, and her staff cater to them. “Dahlia” also has the best network of spies in London and rules Covent Garden as it’s Queen – along with her brothers, now known as the Bareknuckled Bastards.

After Ewan blew up the pier, Hattie, and the shipments the BB had (in the second book)– Grace took him back to her club. She personally nursed him back to health, and I loved these scenes of her caressing him and not understanding why. Her brothers aren’t so happy with her, especially Whit who nearly lost Hattie because of Ewan. But Ewan comes to and realizes that Grace has cared for him and now nothing will stop him – except Grace. She challenges him to fight, but he won’t so she ends up beating him up quite a bit. Him taking his punishment trying to redeem himself in her eyes – but it’s not enough. She finally convinces him that the girl he knew is dead and Dahlia is who she is now and she hates him. Eventually, he leaves, understanding.

Next year we see him back in town, holding a masquerade ball looking for a wife. Grace can’t resist and asks a mutual friend for an invite. Loved this scene where both of them “pretend” to not know each other and get to flirt and have a very passionate rendezvous at the gazebo. He’s built the wooded area inside the Ducal home, the area where he first kissed Grace. It’s intoxicating. They can’t keep their hands off each other. But she leaves him. Then he comes to the Garden for penance and the brothers put him to work on the docks, knowing the crowds will come for him. He's a duke and the citizens there don't take kindly to that. The crowd picks a fight and he penitently lets them. The brothers enjoy watching all this from the rooftops, but Whit knew Grace wouldn't stand for it. She puts a stop for it and there's another lovely "dance" between Grace and Ewan as he tries to follow her to her lair, interacting with washerwomen and eventually stealing a kiss.

There’s more cat and mouse, some twisty revelations, and eventually we all find out the gamble Ewan took that lead everyone to believe he tried to kill them for the title and it’s satisfying for those who have been reading the series. Glad to see these two crazy kids finally make peace and have their HEA.

Series: Bareknuckle Bastards #3

Type: Early Victorian

Heat: 8/10

Tropes: Second Chance Romance, Redemption/Revenge, Masquerade, Strong Heroine

Premise: Can Grace punish Ewan for the horrors he’s perpetrated on her and their family for years, without falling for him again?

The Good: It's great to finallly know what was driving Ewan all this time.

The Bad: I still cringe at scenes where any heroine kicks the crap out of the hero. Revenge, I get. Physical fist fights, eh.

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