Sarah MacLean wraps up her Bareknuckle Bastards series with the ultimate story of revenge and redemption. Fans of the first two books will enjoy seeing the series villain, Ewan, the Duke of Marwick, brought to his knees (literally and figuratively) by the strong-willed Grace.
A long time ago, Grace considered Ewan to be her first love, until he betrayed her and his brothers and forced them to live on the streets. Since then, Grace has built herself up to be a ruler in Convent Garden’s seedy underworld. Ewan’s love for Grace has never wavered, even in spite of his deceptive actions. For years, he thought she was dead, her memory driving him into madness. But once he discovers she’s not dead at all, but is instead the very successful owner of a ladies’ club, he fights to win back her heart. Unfortunately, Grace’s first instinct is to seek revenge rather than reconciliation. Can Ewan fully redeem himself and become worthy of Grace’s love and affection? In the end, the answer is yes, but you’ll get no spoilers from me on Ewan’s path to redemption. It’s something readers really do need to experience for themselves.
When Grace and Ewan reconnect, there is more pull than push. It’s obvious they both still love one another and their relationship becomes less of a fight against attraction and more of a healing journey to right past wrongs. If you expect fireworks of antagonism, you may be disappointed; this is a tender second-chance romance between two people who have known a life full of pain and abandonment. It’s emotional and heart-wrenching, as both Grace and Ewan are characters who experience their emotions strongly and earnestly. Think of this as more of a slow simmer than a rolling boil. Daring and the Duke will crush your heart and then slowly and carefully piece it back together. It’s the epitome of catharsis.
Though Daring and the Duke offers enough exposition for newcomers to dive right in, readers will miss the nuance of the hero and heroine’s history and how it informs their behavior without reading the previous two romances in the series. And honestly, it’s a grave disservice to your reading enjoyment to not start from the beginning with MacLean’s charming cast of characters. I can’t think of a better weekend activity than powering through the entire trilogy!