Cover Image: Daring and the Duke

Daring and the Duke

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Member Reviews

I really loved this book, and I want to thank Netgalley for giving me a chance to read an ARC! It was the perfect conclusion to the trilogy. I wasn’t sure how I was going to end up loving the same man that played the villain the prior two books, but Sarah Maclean made it happen! Such a sweet story of redeemed love.
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Daring the Duke (and the entire Bareknuckle Bastards series) was featured on the Fresh Fiction blog in a retrospective review and analysis: https://freshfiction.com/page.php?id=10782
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Sarah Maclean is amazing. This book is so good! I didn't see how she redeemed the hero! But she did. These two characters are amazing!
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I enjoyed Daring the Duke!  Grace was a strong character and her chemistry with Ewan was clear.  I enjoyed thier love story and I was happy with the ending of this series!
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The long anticipated finale of one of my favorite series hits with a bit of bittersweet ending. While I have enjoyed this series immensely and am sad to see it ending, the have been dying to find out where Ms. MacLean would take her characters and how she would bring back these two star-crossed lovers and give them the HEA that they both so badly deserved.  The series took us on a long and heart wrenching story through the pasts of four children that were emotional abused and pitted against one another by the monster that was their father and separated by circumstances and manipulation when their father realized they were banding together against him.  Grace, the only girl of the group, held a special place in their hearts, different for each boy, but she always loved Ewan as much more than her brother.  When he turned on them, for the power and greed of their father’s offer, she took her brothers and ran for the only haven she ever imagined, becoming Queen of London’s darkest streets and taking her place in the world by force and her wits alone.  Returning after a long separation from the only woman he ever loved, Ewan was convinced he’d lost her before ever getting the chance to prove himself to her, but now has a second chance to show her that they have a chance if only she’ll allow him back into her heart.  The battle between and for them both will be dark and filled with obstacles, but once the full truth of their shared past comes to light, they will both have to decide to set aside their fears and old grudges in order to find a path to happiness, or they will never have a third chance to be together. Grace was a woman to be reckoned with and I loved her wit, sass, and strength.  She is the type of heroine that I love to see in these historical novels, because they are so often overlooked in the truth of history, but under all her bravado there was so much pain and heartbreak I wanted to cry for her often.  Once she decided she would give up her chance at love in favor of doing what she feels she should for herself, I feared for her sanity and future, but thankfully it all worked out in the end.  Ewan was an enigma and such a well-written hero that we have to shift our minds from the way we have known him in the past two novels to full appreciate his greatness and importance to Grace.  In the previous novels he was truly a dark and evil bastard, but learning more and coming to understand his full motivations, while not being forgivable, we can understand why he made his mistakes and appreciate that he feels the pain and anguish he caused his brothers and people.  I loved seeing him making amends and trying to prove himself to the people and his brothers and make a place for himself in the Bastard’s world so that he could prove himself to Grace.  He is strength and sexiness personified to be sure, despite being everything that Grace despises in the beginning and how much he changed over the course of the story was a true turnaround and I enjoyed reading about him maturing into the perfect mate for Grace.  The passion between Grace and Ewan begins more as anger for one and anguish for the other, but after they come back together the obvious emotional connection and sensual connection burns off the pages and you can immediately see how perfectly matched they are for one another in every way.  I loved every sad, sweet, entertaining, and high-spirited moment of this story, not to mention getting to see how settled the boys became with their women as time passed and they mellowed.  I cannot wait for whatever fabulous series comes our way from Sarah MacLean next and can guarantee I will be first in line begging for a chance to read it.
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Daring and the Duke by Sarah Maclean is a satisfying conclusion to her Bareknuckle Bastards series. Grace Condry has been set on revenge against Ewan, the Duke of Marwick since they were young and now she has her chance—if she dares. This novel tells the poignant story of Grace and Ewan and how their past and present will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.  Readers will have their hearts broken and put back together from cover to cover. Sarah Maclean has given readers rewarding finale to this must-read historical romance series.  Between the three novels, you will surely find a favorite. If you are looking for a strong heroine and a hero that is not afraid to grovel for love—this is the novel you need in your TBR pile.
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Per usual, Sarah MacLean delivers. The final installment in The Bareknuckle Bastards series brings such fantastic closure to Grace and Ewan's story — one that feels authentic and real to who these characters are. Between the feminist underworld that serves as Grace's empire and the long-road to redemption for Ewan, there's plenty of compelling story to keep readers turning the pages.
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I'm waffling around 3.5 Stars.

I enjoyed this book for the most part. I love Grace and I love being back in the world of the Bareknuckle Bastards, but I just wasn't looking forward to this book as much as I did the previous 2 because Ewan was such an absolute ass in the previous books. Finally getting more of the backstory about him and the choices he made did help humanize him somewhat, though I was still annoyed that he took so long to explain things. Why couldn't he just tell all that to Devil once they met in the first book? Why make it a weird competition that then turned super dark? It just seemed like Ewan way over-complicated things from the get-go.

Overall the sex scenes were pretty delicious, even though I still disliked Ewan (what can I say? MacLean knows how to write some good sex scenes). And I did love learning more about Grace's club and some of the members there. I would definitely love to learn more about some of the club members at 72 Shelton St. 

My only quibble is that I wish Ewan had been a little more of a sympathetic character in the previous 2 books. Like I wish there had been bits where Ewan tried to tell Devil or Whit the truth and maybe they cut him off so that he couldn't. Or maybe he'd written Grace a letter but she refused to read it. Or that he hadn't tried to actively hurt people, including his brothers and their significant others, just to either get their attention or out of misplaced revenge. In the end, it just felt like Ewan got off the hook a little too easily and maybe if there's been a little less dastardly villain behavior from the beginning, it wouldn't feel that way.

But otherwise I enjoyed another look at Covent Garden and the Bastards, and I'm hoping I'll see little cameos from them in MacLean's future books.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me early access to this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I love these modern style historical romances. Very steamy and very full of drama and intrigue.  The female characters are phenomenal and interesting, I really enjoyed them.  The male main character, though, as usual with Sarah Maclean’s books, is a bit too “alpha male” super aggressive for me. They really do walk the line of being Abusive with their domineering behavior.

I’m a fan of Sarah’s books generally. I’ve always enjoyed how even though every book features an absurdly domineering Alpha male hero (a trope which the older I get the more I dislike) she has always instilled her heroines with enough agency and empowerment to offset the alpha-holes. I also enjoy her books because they are rather over the top, angst filled roller coaster rides of fun. Are they historically believable? Lol NO. Are they soap opera-y and overly dramatic? Yes. Do they pretty much all follow the same basic recipe? Yes. But still I tend to enjoy them and look forward to them. But this one.... oh boy. This man caused the death of at least 5 boys and tried very hard to kill his brothers and their love interests. He’s not really the kind of character I can easily root for but I’m a fan of redeemed heroes sometimes do I was willing to give it a shot. Plus Grace seemed bad ass enough to make it worth a try. 

But I just do not enjoy reading about obsessive heroes. This guy has been frighteningly sexually obsessed with Grace since she was 12. He has not seen her in 20 years and one of the first things he thinks on page is that he’s “been in love with this WOMAN for decades.”  He has never known her as a woman at this point. He knew her as a child. 20 years ago. It’s creepy and uncomfortable snd he really feels more like a stalker than a hero. I’m not exaggerating. It’s obsessive possessiveness NOT LOVE. Portrayals like this are triggering and cause harm. I want healthy portrayals of love. Love that builds and grows between adults because of mutual respect, attraction, shared goals and interests. Partnership. That’s what I find romantic. Possessiveness is not romance. Obsession is not love. Violence is not acceptable when one is mourning. 

Ewan is not a romance hero, he’s a representation of all the real men who don’t take no fit an answer, who stalk us, who harm our loved ones when lashing out about not getting us as they want us. He’s our scary reality, the man we are convinced from when we are little girls that if we just love him enough we can transform the monster and earn our happily ever after. No matter the violence he offers at first. He’s not a romantic fantasy, he’s the terrifying reality in our world. 

It’s a pass for me though I will try her next series. 

Alternate recommendations for those looking for more feminist style historical romances try Courtney Milan, newer Mary Balogh, Evie Dunmore, and some Lisa Kleypas books.
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It starts off slow and kind of dense, but once the action begins, it's hard to resist the story as it drives forward. It reads as a true epic, one that makes you feel the world really has been reshaped as you read it. Would recommend.
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Daring and the Duke, the finale in Sarah MacLean’s Bareknuckle Bastards series, was my most anticipated release of 2020. Several months before it was published, Kelly suggested she and I buddy read MacLean’s entire backlist together—as we both love her books but hadn’t read all of them. It was so amazing seeing MacLean grow into the writer that produced Daring and the Duke because it does so much emotional work. There were so many details laid down in the prior books, and the feminist agenda here just shines. Subtle nods and references to her backlist that made it even more special. I’ve now read Daring and the Duke twice and love Grace and Ewan more with each read. Grace was an incredible and empowered heroine, and though I was unsure how MacLean was going to redeem Ewan, the antagonist of the last two books, in Daring and the Duke, I saw Ewan in a different light and I felt so much sympathy for him. Daring and the Duke is the grovel novel to end all grovels—MacLean literally burns the patriarchy and the aristocracy down. I can’t believe I have to wait a year for her next series now.
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Sarah Maclean is a master of historical romance and, as ever, we are obsessed with her writing. We initially came to her in the Rules of Scoundrels series, and have blown through every book she has written since then. She is the first author we put into hands of readers who are new to romance or who want to read historicals. Daring and the Duke is the perfect end to this series - just spectacular.
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This was my least favorite of a very good series. Ewan just isn't really redeemable and Grace wasn't as compelling as the women of the first two stories. I still enjoyed it and look forward to the next Sarah MacLean adventure!
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This was my first read from this series but heard a lot of great things about this author and I wanted to dive in. Even though I had the egalley, I grabbed the audio as well.

With second chance romances, I was immediately sucked in since it's one of my favorite tropes to read from. But my goodness, 20 years have passed by and that's a bit mind-blowing. With that being said, I was ready for all the emotions towards a very much needed reunion.

The first half of the book was great, I couldn't stop reading and then the story started to lose me a bit. And I found myself leaving the story every now and then. 

Since it has been so long, I was expecting a long process of forgiveness to happen but was surprised when that didn't happen. And as you make it towards the end, it felt like it took a really long time to make-up. It seemed to have gone on much longer than I anticipated.

For the most part, it was enjoyable, but not quite my favorite.,
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I was wary about this one, only because I thought I didn’t love the hero going into it, per the previous books in the series. But alas, Sarah MacLean did it again and made me root for the romance like she always does! This one was delightful, and I just adore this series.
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Another enjoyable read from Sarah MacLean. This author is a consistent 'can't put down' read for me.
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MacLean is one of the best romance authors around and this entry in her Bareknuckle series doesn’t disappoint! Grace is a wonderful badass and I love the interactions between the original trio.
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This one was actually a little disappointing. To be clear, a disappointing Sarah MacLean is still miles better than plenty of other romance I've read. It just didn't live up to my expectations after the first two books in this series.

Part of the problem is how we get to this book in the first place. The first two titles in this series spend a lot of time emphasizing how terrible Ewan is, and there was a lot of making up to do before I was ready to get over how he treated the others. This book was also so focused on the past, finally answering the questions about how the Bastards ended up in Covent Garden. I didn't necessarily mind the flashbacks; there were too many of them, perhaps, but at least they provided new information. My real problem was with the sighing, dramatic rehashing of how they've always loved each other, it's always been her, even after all these years, she never got over him, etc. After a while, I suppose there are only so many ways to say the same thing.

There are plenty of things I loved about this book! Grace is a self-made woman, far more than most female leads in this era of romance. I loved seeing her thriving (and feminist!) business, well-earned influence, and deep connection to her community. MacLean also does a fantastic job bringing Covent Garden to life, and I would gladly spend more time there if she chooses to return. The side characters are always so good, and of course I loved getting a glimpse back at the other couples in this series to see how they're getting along.

All in all, I think this book tried to cover too much ground. MacLean is so good at what she does, and I wish there had been more room for the present instead of looking for so long into the past.
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You ever start a book wondering how the hell the author is going to pull off THIS plotline? I really could not see how MacLean was ever possibly going to redeem Ewan. He was such a strong villain, doing absolutely terrible things, I mean, people DIED. At the same time, I really trust MacLean to pull it all together in a terrific way. This all combined to making me wait forever to read the book, but now I have and it was delicious. Grace was never my favorite of the bastards, but her storyline is so compelling, and I completely understood her heartbreak, and now I understand Ewan's as well, and his is so.much.worse.  This is such a tight web of misery, and watching him fight his way out to her get Grace is just masterful and beautiful. I want to reread the whole series again already.
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I don't know why but I just can't fall in love with Sarah McLean's writing. I know I'm in the minority here but I did not finish this.
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