Series: Hells Bells #1
Published by Avon on August 24, 2021
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Length: 10 Hours and 6 Mins
New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean returns with a blazingly sexy, unapologetically feminist new series, Hell’s Belles, beginning with a bold, bombshell of a heroine, able to dispose of a scoundrel—or seduce one—in a single night.
After years of living as London’s brightest scandal, Lady Sesily Talbot has embraced the reputation and the freedom that comes with the title. No one looks twice when she lures a gentleman into the dark gardens beyond a Mayfair ballroom…and no one realizes those trysts are not what they seem.
No one, that is, but Caleb Calhoun, who has spent years trying not to notice his best friend’s beautiful, brash, brilliant sister. If you ask him, he’s been a saint about it, considering the way she looks at him…and the way she talks to him…and the way she’d felt in his arms during their one ill-advised kiss.
Except someone has to keep Sesily from tumbling into trouble during her dangerous late-night escapades, and maybe close proximity is exactly what Caleb needs to get this infuriating, outrageous woman out of his system. But now Caleb is the one in trouble, because he’s fast realizing that Sesily isn’t for forgetting…she’s forever. And forever isn’t something he can risk.
I will admit that I was highly apprehensive about this book, while also somewhat excited. I was really hoping this would be a success for me, as her past series Bareknuckled Bastards were and even those skimmed the surface of the line I draw in the sand when it comes to historical romance, this book, this BOOK….DANG, it Sarah MacLean. I am going to make an effort to NOT rant too much in this review because my readers don’t deserve it but at the same time, I do think you all deserve to know what is actually in this book and judge if its one you want to take on because this won’t be for everyone.
Bombshell sets the stage for a story about a group of women that come together and unite forces. All of them have unique capabilities and different personalities but they are all wanting to kick the can at society, the culture they were raised in, with little respect for those that sacrifice and make an effort to destroy those they deem unworthy. Lady Sesily doesn’t care one whit for scandal, she embraces scandal and laughs in the face of those that adhere to the statutes. She is more than content being the mess maker of the group and having all the attention of society focused on her. But despite the ruckus she makes, people are in awe of her and some even respect her. She is willing to do what it takes until ….Caleb Calhou. Caleb is part of Sesily’s past and one that she would like to forget. He hurt her and she is determined that he never finds out how he destroyed all her hopes and aspirations, but Caleb is determined to watch Sesily’s back while she creates mayhem in London. They both have desires for each other, and hope they can get each other out of each other’s systems so they can move on from the tornado of feelings they evoke in each other….but best-laid plans don’t always work in the way one would expect them too.
I would like to say that I enjoyed this book but I will be honest that I didn’t. This book is just a prime example of the problematic journey of historical romance and I can no longer support this author. Bombshell was one of the most unbelievable books I have read in historical romance and so modernly feminists its ridiculous at times….alright most of the time. I can’t tell you how many times I was rolling my eyes through it all. And I only lasted till about 70 % and I had to put it aside because really?? This is a book like the recent trend for authors to write contemporary that is dressed up as a historical. Now if this had been written as a contemporary romance, I would have enjoyed it so much more. But I have RULES for historical romance, and this stems from reading the genre for so long. I know people will struggle with this review and my RULES, but I make no apologies for how this book made me feel and I am at the end of my rope with this one. Now if you like contemporary historical’s then go for it…..but please don’t judge me for wanting a historical to have some realism to it. And quite frankly when authors write stories like this, it demeans the countless women who lived in this era and fought and struggled against true society standards that went against them and the sacrifices they made so we could have equality today. Some may say well its FICTION…..yeah that is true. Fiction is fiction, but I like to be somewhat closer to the real thing. Historical romance still falls under the historical fiction genre far more than the contemporary genre and I want it to feel like that. I want to sense the authenticity and I mean really this book…..the dialogue should say it all. Its like Sarah MacLean didn’t even try that hard. We see words like “awesome” and I really can’t stand modernisms in the dialogue. I am sure this book was written like this on purpose, with each series this author has done it has been leading to this and its a trend currently. I don’t understand the tones of this book though in some ways, it was almost like having a feminism lecture preached to me at times and when I read romance I don’t want to be preached to, or have feminism shoved down my throat. I mean HELLO I read historical romance…..for decades its always been about women empowerment. That is what I LOVE about the genre and writing these type of tones doesn’t help or encourage or showcase the true trials of women over the centuries at least not from my perspective.
I am sad to say this will be the last MacLean I am ever going to read, and probably be pickier on these more modern like historical’s because they really aren’t my cup of tea and this is an honest opinion and I really wanted to give this book my best shot. Now if you loved this book, then I am happy for you that you could gain something from it. We each have preferences in the books that we read, it saddens me this is the way that the genre is heading, but I also understand why this will appeal to romance readers especially newer romance readers who want these feminist themes to them. I hope Sarah MacLean will continue to write and deliver books her readership will enjoy even if this is adieu to an author that I have respected over the years.