Wednesday 27 October 2021

#CBR13 Book 47: "Bombshell" by Sarah Maclean

Page count: 384 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

CBR13 Bingo: New series

Official book description: 
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.

This is another review that will suffer from the fact that I finished the book at the end of August and haven't had the time and/or brain space to write about it until now. I've adjusted down my original rating half a star because it feels like a book as action-packed as this one, I should remember slightly more details about the general plot two months later than I now find myself doing for it to deserve a full four stars.

So what do I remember? Lady Sesily Talbot, who apparently some sections of society anachronistically choose to call Sexily behind her back (I do really like Maclean, at least until a while after I read her books and all my critical faculties kick in again and I start nitpicking - but she's not exactly the most historically accurate in all aspects writer out there) is the last of the scandalous Talbot sisters to remain unmarried. She has a very strong sense of fair play and justice and has allied herself with a group of other ladies to help women in need, from all stratas of society. Sesily herself is able to use society's impression of her as a flirt and as a scandal to cause distractions. Her main allies are the rich noblewoman who can use her wealth to fund the group's endeavours; the "hopeless" spinster wallflower everyone underestimates and the eccentric who cooks up explosives and other useful chemical concoctions to aid the group.

Caleb Calhoun, the charming American who co-owns a pub with Sesily's older sister Sera has been staying away from England for the past two years. He knows that his attraction to Sesily can go nowhere, but thinks about her all the time. Now he's back, and while he wants to keep his distance, the frustrating woman keeps ending up in dangerous situations with no care for her own safety. While he wants to stay out of her business, her (seemingly) impulsive and dangerous actions make it impossible for him to keep away, even at the risk of his own secrets coming to light.

Caleb has some dark secrets that mean that he always feels like he has to be very careful when he leaves the United States and his business there. His attraction to Sesily is not the only tie he has to England, but he's worried that the truth will come out and ruin not just his life, but those of all those near to him. He knows that if he spends too much time with Sesily, his already pretty strong feelings will become irrevocable and he will fall head over heels for her, whether he wants to or not. He's never going to be able to be a worthy match for her, so he has to stay away from her (isn't that always the case with these overly protective heroes). 

Sesily is nowhere near as outrageous or scandalous as she portrays herself to be, and she needs to toe the line with her rescue operations so her family members don't become too worried about her. She loves spending time with her sisters and their increasing brood of children, but being the exciting and fun aunt has also confirmed for her that she never wants children of her own. What man could really want to spend their life without having children? She's quite happy being a spinster forever, but every time she clashes with Caleb, she starts questioning whether they might have a future together. 

If you asked me what the details of the plot were, barring Sesily and the ladies trying to bring some unscrupulous and probably murderous nobleman to justice, and him having something to do with Caleb's past, I will have to disappoint you. All the finer details of the book have completely slipped my mind. 

Sesily's three co-conspirators are clearly going to have books of their own, and there is some pretty obvious sequel bait set up over the course of the story. As always, I had fun while reading this, but the substance of the book has failed to stay with me. Maclean remains on my "buy while on sale" list. 

Judging a book by its cover: While I love the bold red colour of the dress, yet again this is a historical romance cover with a wildly anachronistic costume choice for the cover model. Then again, Sesily is frequently described as flouting all polite conventions of society, so possibly she'd have her dressmakers make something completely unique for her to wear. I do like the pose and the facial expression on the woman, she certainly looks determined and confident.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read


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