Wicked and the Wallflower is the first book in Sarah MacLean’s The Barenuckled Bastards series – the last series in the Summer of Sarah MacLean event. It tells the story of Devil, one of the Barenuckle Bastards and Lady Felicity Faircloth and I LOVED IT.
Check out the Fangirlish website for my reviews of the previous eleven books! Below is where I stand on my Summer of Sarah MacLean bingo card:
First, it must be mentioned that The Barenuckle Bastard series is different from MacLean’s previous books. Maclean has left the ballrooms of London behind to focus on the seedier side of London, in Convent Garden. The hero of this book, Devil and his brother Beast, run an ice smuggling business and their sister, Grace runs a bordello for women. I know people who didn’t like this series and I know people who LOVE IT – I lean toward the LOVE IT crowd. But I do understand why this might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
One of the many fabulous things about romance novels is if you are lucky, and in this case we are VERY lucky, they come with a stepback. Look at this stunner:
As you can see, the heroine of the story, Lady Felicity Faircloth is wearing pink – her signature color. As pink is also my signature color – I LOVE HER. It’s that simple. Then we learn she believes herself a spinster, and she is an extraordinary talented lock pick. Yes, you read that correctly, the lady picks locks!
And of course one of the MANY locks that she picks is the lock guarding Devil’s heart. I swear, there is literally a moment when Devil is beyond turned on by Felicity picking a lock….and it’s HOT. But Felicity’s explanation of why she picks locks is truly an ode to feminism. God, I love Sarah MacLean! The woman is a genius.
Moving back to Devil, the poor man is smitten the moment he sees her – it is just WONDERFUL! How I love watching the mighty fall. Of course, Devil decides to use Felicity to get back at this brother…silly man, that was never going to work out, but it was so lovely to watch him try. Giddy here.
I have to say, I thoroughly enjoy the relationship between Devil aka Devon, and his brother Beast aka Whit. Whit is a man of few words, but he knows exactly what to say to Devil. The next book in this series is Whit’s and I’m all here for it.
The world-building in this first book of the series is also outstanding. It made me want to plan another trip to London, just to go to Covent Garden. The Barenuckle Bastards are in the ice smuggling business, among other things, and it was such an interesting world to peer inside.
Ice smuggling is a pretty unique idea. I recently watched an interview with MacLean where she admitted she began thinking of ice while watching Frozen for the umpteenth time with her daughter. Ideas come from everywhere!
Going back to Lady Felicity Faircloth, we had the pleasure of meeting her in The Day of the Duchess, and she references her time as a possible bride for the Duke of Haven. Like most ladies, Felicity is under pressure to marry, she has also become ostracized by the ton. Leading her to declare that she was engaged to the Duke of Marwick – before she even met him. Oh my!
Luckily, he is there to save the day/use her and the situation to his favor. But of course, he falls in love with her- how could he not? Despite seeing herself as a spinster and unlikeable, Felicity never loses her backbone. Leading to several moments when you cheer out loud for her – or at least I did 😉 I LOVED how she stood up for herself, especially when it came to dealing with the man she had fallen in love with!