Also in this series: Wicked and the Wallflower , Brazen and the Beast
Series: The Bareknuckled Bastards #1
Published by HarperAudio, Avon on June 30, 2020
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Length: 10 Hours and 59 Mins
Source: Self Purchased
New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean returns with the much-anticipated final book in her Bareknuckle Bastards series, featuring a scoundrel duke and the powerful woman who brings him to his knees.
Grace Condry has spent a lifetime running from her past. Betrayed as a child by her only love and raised on the streets, she now hides in plain sight as queen of London’s darkest corners. Grace has a sharp mind and a powerful right hook and has never met an enemy she could not best, until the man she once loved returns.
Single-minded and ruthless, Ewan, Duke of Marwick, has spent a decade searching for the woman he never stopped loving. A long-ago gamble may have lost her forever, but Ewan will go to any lengths to win Grace back… and make her his duchess.
Reconciliation is the last thing Grace desires. Unable to forgive the past, she vows to take her revenge. But revenge requires keeping Ewan close, and soon her enemy seems to be something else altogether—something she can’t resist, even as he threatens the world she's built, the life she's claimed…and the heart she swore he'd never steal again.
This review may contain spoilers, so fair warning, upon reading the review.
Daring and the Duke is the finale of the Barenuckled Bastards trilogy by this author and I can’t believe this delightful series is over already. I think I have been looking forward to Grace’s story since the first book was read, she is such an iconic character that just builds the mystery and intrigue throughout the trilogy, so you just ache for her story and seeing more of her background, and there are so many facets to her character that I found fascinating and well worth the long wait for. And of course we have our anti hero(villain) who has just played the “bad guy” for the first two books and one wonders how on EARTH can MacLean redeem this soul? Well she does and its epically beautiful.
Daring and the Duke starts off with a torture session with Grace and Ewan. This is quite shortly after “Brazen and the Beast” and where Ewan is captured by the three and Grace takes out her anger and feelings of betrayal and hurt out on Ewan and Ewan shocked to find her alive, is willing to give her whatever she needs, even if it means causing him pain. He doesn’t fight her at all. And then he is tossed out and we jump ahead one year later where Ewan after disappearing for a year, returns to London and to Grace and is more than willing to fight for her, no matter what it takes. Grace knows that playing with Ewan, and sharing kisses with him is dangerous, but she senses there is something redeemable about him and wants to see what is possible with this Ewan who has seemingly changed from the man he once was. But Ewan is hiding a secret from all of them, and only once the secrets are revealed, can Ewan and Grace truly find a future together.
Daring and the Duke was a delightful story that I fell so hard for and so quickly towards and I couldn’t get enough of it. I was so captivated by this book and quite frankly READ these books in narration form. That is all I am going to say and you will adore them. I will be honest, I don’t physically read this author anymore. I have just found it to be too slow at times and I can have the hardest time getting into them, but boy, Justine Eyre works her magic in narrating these books and probably a big reason why I have enjoyed them so much here.
You are a queen….and tonight I am your throne
I really fell in love with the story though, and even though the beginning scene is not my cup of tea (a heroine hurting the hero is NOT for me) and I almost set it aside because that scene did bother me. I understand the circumstances and why she was so angry, but it just turned my stomach seeing this scene. But then once we do the year jump, then the book turned into all that I hoped for. I loved the groveling but I also liked seeing the heroine see something more in the hero even if she doesn’t fully realize it. And all the women in the family coming together and cheering her on in her pursuit of Ewan was AWESOME. We do get some good reconcilation between the brothers and even if it wasn’t as much as I wanted to get, it was well done in seeing that friendship be able to rebuild its process.
The three of us could have easily been broken. Separated. Manipulated,” he said. “It wasn’t blood that kept us together against him. It was you.” She caught her breath. “We all loved you. Whit and Devil like a sister—each of them willing to protect you without hesitation. And me . . .” He trailed off, and she reached for his hand, threading her fingers through his. “Like you were a part of me.
The romance between Grace and Ewan was just beautiful. We do get some flashback to when they were younger, and seeing that bright young love blossom and then seeing what Ewan had to do to save all of them and it broke my heart seeing him make the difficult choice knowing it would make them turn against him. I found seeing that and seeing his devotion to Grace when he finds her alive and well, was stunning in its portrayal throughout the book. What he is willing to do to fight for her and support her is beautiful in every way. And seeing Grace fight for him, even if that means standing up for him against the two men that protected her all these years, was mind blowing. You see how much depth of love she contains for Ewan, despite all of his past wrongs, but sees the goodness still in him.
I do not want to be Your Grace ever again. All I want is for you to be my Grace.” He kissed her again. “It’s always been you. Every day. Every night. Every minute. Since the beginning. This is the sum of my ambition: To be worthy of you. Of your love. Of your world. To stand by your side and change it.
Overall I found Daring and the Duke to be a stunning story that won my heart with each beautiful chapter that charmed my soul in its depths of emotion and startling truths of love and growth…..STUNNINGLY EPIC