Review – Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah Maclean

About the Book:

When Wicked Comes Calling…

When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She’s seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won’t accept a marriage without it.

The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain…

Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.

For the Promise of Passion…

But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she’d rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos, and he must choose between everything he’s ever wanted…and the only thing he’s ever desired.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                            Wicked and the Wallflower: Bareknuckle Bastards Book 1

My Review:                

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

This amazing story opens by giving us background information about three half brothers, all illegitimate sons of the Duke of Marwick, ironically all born on the same day to different mothers.  When it’s clear years later that the duke will not have any legitimate heirs, he gathers his bastard sons to his home, and concocts a scheme to pit them against one another, with the winner becoming his heir.  (You’ll have to read the book to see just how he accomplishes this.) Ewan, Devon, and Whit make a pact to stick together, and to never sire an heir for the obsessed duke.  Then, years later, Ewan comes to town, now using the title of Duke of Marwick, seeking a bride, and obviously planning to immediately start a family.  Whit and Devon, who have taken a different path, and now rule a great part of London’s underworld, are determined that Ewan will not succeed, no matter the cost.

Felicity Faircloth, now twenty-seven and a spinster, has been relegated to wallflower status, and is mocked or shunned by the people she used to consider her friends.  Though she now sees how shallow and cruel her one-time comrades are, she can’t help but long for her former life when she was popular and in demand.  At a ball where everyone is dying to meet the mysterious new bachelor Duke of Marwick,  the snide remarks become too much to bear, and badly wanting to put her mockers in their place, Felicity rashly declares that she and the duke are engaged.  As the whispers begin to circle the ballroom, Felicity flees, knowing that she will be totally ruined when the duke, whom she never even met, denies her claim.

Devon, known as Devil, rules the Covent Garden district with his brother, Whit, who is known as Beast.  When Dev hears of Felicity’s rash claim, he concocts his plan of revenge – he will turn Felicity into the perfect duchess for his brother, and then ruin her and destroy his brother’s plans for marriage.  He sneaks into Felicity’s room, and tells her that he can make her dreams come true if she will follow his plan.  Felicity is convinced that the duke will reject her, and is so desperate for her former life, that she feels she has nothing to lose by agreeing to Dev’s scheme.

Surprisingly, the duke doesn’t dispute Felicity’s claim.  To him, one female is as good as another, and her declaration saved him the trouble of having to court anyone.  He lets the engagement stand.  There is much more to the story of the three brothers, and what caused them to split and become enemies, and Felicity is being used as a pawn by the duke, as well as Dev.  While details are revealed about the brothers’ pasts, Felicity finds herself strongly attracted to Dev rather than her fiancé.  It suits Dev’s purpose that Felicity desire him, that will make his seduction so much easier – only he finds her beautiful and desirable for herself.  He starts to feel guilty about the hurt he will cause her, and is it possible that he actually feels something in his heart?

The passion between Dev and Felicity is sizzling hot, and their personal chemistry is awesome.  The hardened criminal lord shows kindness and tenderness to Felicity, and builds her up, telling her of her own beauty.   Soon Felicity realizes that a life with the King of Covent Garden holds more appeal than being a part of society, even as a duchess.  Only now, Dev feels he can never bring Felicity into his dark world.  It may be a moot point, however, as the duke takes an action that may end Dev’s very life.

Oh, this book!  It’s fantastic on so many levels.  The storyline is unique, and there is so much backstory, some of which won’t be revealed until each brother’s own book.  The pacing is perfect – there is never a dull moment.  I loved both Dev and Felicity, though they were both flawed, they still were extremely appealing and vulnerable.  The building of their romance was breathtaking, and their desire was like an inferno.  I was totally satisfied with the resolution of Dev’s and Felicity’s story, but I am left agonizing for the next two books.  Can author Sara Maclean manage to redeem the duke, who, in my opinion, committed an unforgivable act?  I am anxiously waiting to find out.  WICKED AND THE WALLFLOWER is an outstanding, well written, passionate and exciting romance that is one of the best books I’ve read this year.   ~Rose


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