Before I dive into this, let me first apologize for the fact that y’all have not had either of the two posts I previewed last Thursday (Tuesday?). I’m slumping because my anxiety kicked into overdrive last week and it’s making it difficult to focus. Unfortunately, even prior to that, I was already behind on ARC reading. That said! I’m here and I’m so ready to talk to y’all about one of my favorite historical romance series, the Bareknuckle Bastards series by Sarah MacLean! Daring and the Duke comes out on Tuesday and is an absolute fantastic close to the series.
If you’ve been around my blog for an extended period of time, you may know that I love Sarah MacLean’s books. I have an ARC review of Brazen and the Beast on Goodreads so if you want more information about the book that is probably still my favorite in the series, you can check that out. But what we’re here to talk about is the series as a whole because we are finally being blessed with Grace and Ewan’s story!
The premise of this series is that on the same day, four children were born. One, Grace, was legitimate in that she was born to a married couple, though the husband was not her father. The other three were sons born to the Duke and three non-noble women. Grace’s father (the Duke) had her baptized as his heir and kept her a secret for her entire life, eventually bringing his sons to live with him to compete for who would take Grace’s place as his rightful heir. He was abusive and awful and made the boys fight one another for the privilege. But his sons banded together with Grace and Ewan and Grace fell in love. Until, of course, Ewan betrayed them all and became the Duke’s heir. When we meet our characters, they’re adults and Ewan is now the Duke.
What I love about this series, besides everything, is the characters. Normally I rave about heroines and I adore Felicity, Hattie, and Grace, but I also really love our heroes, Devil, Whit, and Ewan. (Is it bad that I cannot remember Devil’s real name? He’s just Devil.) I also love that it seems like Sarah really made an effort to diversify the side characters in this world that she created, filling Regency England with the color we know was there but is too often ignored. AND, there’s the cutest flirtationship that solidifies in Daring and the Duke between Lady Nora and Annika. So I loved that Sapphic relationship nod and I’m really, really hoping that’s the novella she’s writing is their story, though I don’t think it is. (But maybe! It’s good to have hope.)
You might be wondering why I like these characters, which is a good question. I like these women because I love their boldness. Felicity is so impulsive and brave and she endeared herself to me immediately. I mean, she’s out here just like casually picking locks and lying about being engaged. It’s fabulous. And then we get Hattie, arguably my favorite character ever, who is just going after what she wants!!! In this house, we stan women who go after what they want with fearless abandon. In Daring and the Duke, Whit says he fell in love with Hattie when she threw him out of a carriage (the very beginning of Brazen & the Beast) and same, Whit, same. And then *does a literal shoulder shimmy* we get our boss Queen, Grace, who created a literal business dedicated to making sure women got to have a place dedicated to their pleasure. My kingdom for marginalized genders having their pleasure prioritized.
As for the men, I mean, Devil and Whit are criminal masterminds focused on taking care of their people and there’s just… something about that trope that I adore? And then Ewan. Such a disaster, messy man, but I love him and all of his messy ways. But, speaking of our criminal masterminds, the other main thing that I love is the awesomeness of being in Covent Garden instead of Mayfair most of the time. I love the atmosphere, I love the people, I love the fact that these books feel grittier than a lot of Regencies.
So, in conclusion, I love this series. If you want a book review of just my thoughts on Daring and the Duke (which I loved), here’s the link to my goodreads review and I’m sorry to subject you to me just waxing on about my love of these characters. Daring and the Duke is officially out on Tuesday and I definitely recommend you getting a copy!
And to close, reminder that Black lives still matter and today I want to spotlight voting. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that there have been a whole lot of issues with voting recently (Kentucky; Georgia) and I know that sometimes it feels like there’s a tendency to over-emphasize voting given voter suppression (book about voter suppression I want to read: One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson), but setting that aside, we do know that voting makes a difference. So I just want to encourage y’all to ensure that you are registered to vote so that come November, you’ll be able to make your voice heard. As far as how we can fight unfair voter practices, to be honest, I don’t know. I just encourage you to pay attention to what’s going on with your local elections and maybe call your local representative if this is something you’re worried about. All of us having equal access to the voting booth is incredibly important and it’s something I know I’ll be paying attention to.