Naturally, after Devil found love in Wicked and the Wallflower, it’s time for his quieter brother, Beast, to find his match. In this case, that match is Henrietta “Hattie” Sedley, daughter of shipping magnate. She has grown up watching her father manage his business, and is ready to take over from him – of course, being in 19th century England, she has to deal with gender stereotypes and an incompetent brother who is seen as the natural heir.
In fact, she has her brother to thank for ruining her big birthday night and leaving an unconscious man tied up in the carriage. Turns out, her brother has pissed off Beast by stealing from him, so now Hattie promises Beast to pay for what her brother took, which pulls her into Beast’s smuggling world. In many ways, they are a natural match – after all they both know the docks, one from the legal side and one from the illegal side.
The novel also goes deeper into the backstory/upbringing of the Bareknuckle Bastards and their father’s deadly competition. I’ve been enjoying this series, and I like Hattie even more than the previous heroine, but McLean definitely is a fan of the “not worthy of love/men making decisions to protect the women they love” trope and has kind of used it two novels in a row now in this trilogy. I mean, I guess two brothers from low backgrounds would have the same issues when dealing with women deemed above their station but I expect the next one will have a very different approach since it will be about former lovers become enemies reconnecting. Can’t wait for that plot line!