MacLean, Sarah. Brazen and the Beast. New York: Avon Books, 2019.
Mass Market Paperback | $7.99 USD | 978-0062692078 | 382 pages | Victorian Romance
Brazen and the Beast signals my breakup with (or at least my second extended break from) Sarah MacLean’s work. Because while I became reinvigorated with her with her fun and subversive Scandal and Scoundrel series, and thought she was moving beyond the standard broody alpha who either a) majorly screws up and has to grovel at the end, b) has a major case of self-loathing, or c) both, with The Day of the Duchess, both installments in this series have proved me wrong thus far, and both her hints about the forthcoming book about Grace and the antagonistic Ewan don’t inspire me to hysterics like everyone else.
Granted, given it took me two tries to get into Wicked and the Wallflower, I did like this one a tad bit more, even if the plot did feel a little stagnant at times. The “hero,” Whit/Beast, in spite of being full of self-loathing and concerns he’s not good enough for a woman who’s clearly interested in him, has slightly more appeal than Devil, in particular his refined reading tastes, with a peek at his “library” showing that a stack of books by women. However, I did not feel particularly moved by him in any emotional way, and his repetitive grunts may be the annoying thing that drove me insane in this book.
But the most talked-about part of the book in promotion is Hattie, and I found her a much more appealing heroine than Felicity (not just because I was spared the constant repetition of her full name, but that helped). I love her determination to take her life into her own hands with the Year of Hattie, and the promotion it’s inspired among readers with the “Year of You,” with some discussion about what we might do to take command of our own lives. While I may obviously not like a lot of things when it comes to the heroes MacLean’s writes, she (usually) creates great heroines, and I think Hattie is one of her best, so it’s a shame that she’s one of the sole consistently good parts of a somewhat lackluster story.
That being said, I will probably wait a while to read the next book when it does come out next year, given my concerns, and read a balance of reviews ahead of time before making my decision instead of buying into the hype again. But that said, with any book, to each their own. If you haven’t yet read Sarah MacLean and you’re a fan of a broody alpha hero and an independent heroine, this is the book and author for you.