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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.

394 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published August 24, 2021

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About the author

Sarah MacLean

48 books12.7k followers
New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. A romance columnist and co-host of the weekly romance novel podcast, Fated Mates, her work in support of romance and those who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com's Sheroes list and led Entertainment Weekly to call her "the elegantly fuming, utterly intoxicating queen of historical romance." Sarah is a graduate of Smith College & Harvard University. She lives in New York City

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,577 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah MacLean.
Author 48 books12.7k followers
May 21, 2021
Sesily's book is finished!

This one is a long time coming--thank you all so much for waiting for it to be time to tell Sesily & Caleb's story! I don't want to spoil much, but what I will tell you is these two made me feel a lot of feels...and if you love a hero who is absolutely a goner for a heroine from the start even though he absolutely swears he is not, meet Caleb!

Quote card reads she looked like land after a month at sea

I hope I've done them justice for you -- you'll see many old friends (including all the Soiled S's, Sera and Haven, and others you might be missing from past series), and meet a brand new crew...the Hell's Belles, a pretty great girl gang and my dream squad.

Quote card reads it was a crew if ever he'd seen one. a revolution in rouge and silk

Writing Bombshell during the pandemic was such a gift -- as my community became smaller and smaller, the community on the page became larger and larger, expanding with people and places partnerships that gave me a place to escape to despite not being able to leave my apartment. I hope it gives you the same kind of escape. Thank you, as always, for reading!

Bombshell is coming on August 24, wherever books are sold. You can preorder it now at:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3aqVOU7
Apple Books: http://bit.ly/bombshellmac
Nook: http://bit.ly/bombshellnook
Kobo: http://bit.ly/bombshellkobo
Google Play: http://bit.ly/bombshellgoogle
Your local indie via Bookshop.org
Signed, with goodies from my local indie, Word
Profile Image for travelbug74.
108 reviews5 followers
December 19, 2021
I have a love/hate relationship with this author. I am currently on hate. I want to love her work but this overly feminist plot did not work for me. I should have know to quit as soon as one of the characters used the word "awesome", in 1836. Nope. If I want to read about a sexually promiscuous 30-year old who does not want kids I could pick up any contemporary romance. When I read HR I want the feeling of the time period. I want the innocence of the woman and I like reading about her growing sensuality when she meets the right man.

I think HR is going in the wrong direction and it's authors like this who are going to turn away readers who want to escape modern times.

I received and advance eARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for  ~Preeti~.
623 reviews
August 25, 2021
2 "Yeah, they are right!!! Don't judge a book by its cover."💫

I want to say this is a classic case of it's not you it's me BUT no I am not ready to take the blame for expecting to read a historical romance when I buy a historical romance book. See, I don't need historical accuracy while reading an HR book since it's not historical fiction. But, please don't serve me a contemporary romance book disguised in the form of Historical.

This is my third book by Sarah Maclean but I have not read anything from the 'Scandal and Scoundrel 'series. Now, why is that important??? It's because this book is an extension of the Scandal and Scoundrel series and I think our heroine, Sicily is the younger sister of the female lead of book 3, The Day of the Duchess

Our heroine, Sisily Talbot is the second daughter of the Earl of Wight. Her father was a coal merchant and earned the title after winning a game of cards so her family is notoriously famous for being wealthy and scandalous.
At 30, Sisily is reckless and known as 'Sexily' by society(yeah!! you heard it right😏😏). But, she is our heroine so she must be good, and to prove this point, she is a member of a four-women squad to save other females from society's scoundrels. Our Hero, Caleb Calhoun, is a partner of Sisily's sister in the pub business. He is a wealthy businessman with a hidden secret based in Boston. He is back in London after a year and is still struggling to hide his feelings for Sisily. 

Now, before I open the door of worms, let's talk about some good stuff-

•The hero, a perfect beta hero who worships the ground our heroine walks.
•Mutual pining and, those who are familiar with Sarah Maclean's work will know that she writes sizzling hot sex scenes
•Girl gang and lots of fashion talk.

My issue/oops!! Issues-

•From the start, I felt as if I was reading a contemporary MF romance. The heroine and her girl gang acted recklessly and idiotically, again and again, just to prove that they are a vigilante feminist gang. See, I am not against social messaging in HR. In reality, it's one of the main reasons why I love KJ Charles's books but don't overdo it, and please don't make it look forced. Here, the hang acted like a bunch of teenagers who wanted to make a point by throwing garbage bins.

•There was the constant use of words such as 'awesome' and all the female characters went to pubs(Did I mention the year was 1838, which coincides with the start of  Queen Victoria's rule.😒😒).

The pace was super slow, especially in the middle portion. The book kept dragging and I felt as if the author has nothing new to give us other than 'she is a feminist.

Final report-
I know, I am acting like a jerk but if I want to read a contemporary MF romance, I will do so right??? Not, go and buy a historical romance book. 
Still, you will find it a much better read -
1.If you are okay with reading your HR as contemporary romances or 
2.You love contemporary MF romances.
3.You like reading Tessa Dare, then I feel you are going to be okay with the book…
Profile Image for JenReadsRomance.
287 reviews1,451 followers
June 17, 2021
full disclosure, Sarah is my friend and we have a podcast together, but listen I KNOW A GREAT BOOK WHEN I READ ONE and I think everyone is going to enjoy the hell out of this.

more fully formed thoughts later, right now just....SO FUN. God I needed this. Makes me want to get together and hang out with all my friends. A terrific romance with Caleb and I loved Sesily soooooo much.

I read an ARC from the publisher.
Profile Image for Topastro.
450 reviews
March 18, 2022
What a complete disappointment! Sarah Maclean has been a must read author for me but I think it is time for me to give her up. This is contemporary romance masquerading as historical. There was no sophistication or finesse, to be honest it was silly.

There is a new trend within historical romance where every plot and heroine centers around modern ideas and issues and I’m not a fan. Historical romance authors should consider what readers want.
Profile Image for ♥ℳelody.
600 reviews582 followers
April 21, 2022
2.75 stars

She shook her head. “You magnificent man. Full of protective instincts and a need to sacrifice your happiness. Truly, someone should put you in a novel.”
1. I enjoyed Caleb and Sesily for the most part. Caleb was sexy and broody and this picked up where they left off in Sera's book so the pining and angst felt real and believable. I honestly was expecting the romance and the hero to be completely drowned out with the laborious writing and Hell's Belles plot. I didn't notice the overwrought repetitive writing until the 80% mark which for a SM book feels like a Herculean effort. But even so, this had problems which kept taking me out of the story. The last 20% especially was really hard to get through and had me wishing they would just get on with the HEA.

2. This was Charlie’s Angels. Literally. Not going to beat around the bush.

I saw what MacLean was trying to do here. A powerful wealthy young Duchess recruiting 3 young "odd misfits" ladies each for their unusual skills to help women in dire situations involving abusive men. Where those skills come from and how they came about it I have no idea it's not really delved into or explained here beyond a passing "training" mention under the Duchess's tutelage 2 years prior. They do their missions undercover at balls and go out of their way to cover their exploits using the Duchess's long reach of connections. The idea is fun but the execution leaves something to be desired. I would have enjoyed this more if the writing wasn't so pretentious and preachy in it's delivery. That for me was this book's downfall.
The Duchess of Trevescan, with money and power to spare. Adelaide Frampton, whom the entire world seemed to think was a simpering wallflower but was able to wield a blade without trouble. Imogen Loveless, who’d knocked a bruiser out with a concoction Caleb never wanted to be on the receiving end of. Maggie, who had eyes everywhere. The others. And Sesily, like a fucking goddess, up on the bar, red skirts gleaming in the lanternlight, smile on her face and quip on her tongue as she cracked a Bully Boy over the head with a table leg like she was playing shuttlecock.
It was a crew if he’d ever seen one.
A revolution, clad in rouge and silk.

MacLean tries so hard to deliver her message that it's as subtle as a two-by-four being hit over your head repeatedly with all the virtue signaling in the writing. She tries so hard to preach things to you as if going down a checklist that the story gets away from her. It's doing too much all in one book which feels unnecessary. And the Hell's Belles gang skills felt oddly skimmed over and not fleshed out. Like why does Imogen love blowing things up and how did she learn that? She's carrying a carpet bag with gun powder and just knows how to drug men and quite bloodthirsty about it, same with Adelaide who transports bodies in a fancy modified carriage. Misfits or not, these are girls from society so the set up for how they came to be so skillful and how they execute their missions is not really there and felt skimmed over. Everything is about how rowdy, unfazed and hilariously "mayhem" these girls are and always get the job done. But aside from the bar fight and rescuing Caleb we don't really see much else beyond that. One of the girls is even described as a con artist and another a spymaster and I'm not even sure which is what or how. Con artist? Where? Cause I didn't see that here. It feels like a lot more telling and showboating then actually showing.

3. Yes this was anachronistic but more so in tone and message. There's a reason I stopped reading her work after Seraphina's book The Day of the Duchess where the romance took a back seat to the heroine spouting lessons on sexism and how men need to watch out cause women are the future. And MacLean managed to make Sera even more pretentious and preachy in here with her bulldog obsession in wanting to know if Caleb slept with her sister like it's no big deal because Sesily is "A GROWN WOMAN OF THIRTY™" who can take care of herself. In case you missed it the first 30 times it's mentioned in this book.
“You really aren’t playing the doting older brother role well, Sera,” he replied. “You ought to remember that generally they don’t insult the honor of their sisters quite so readily.”
“And again! So droll!” Seraphina said before adding, matter-of-factly, “I’m not playing some archaic role; Sesily can take care of her own honor.”
It was Caleb’s turn to be surprised.
“She’s a grown woman and more than capable of taking a lover safely.”
Yes because women in 1838 London were equipped with all ways of protecting their own honor much less having siblings and best friends obsessing over their "swiving" skills like it's their business to air out. In what world or era is this even considered normal or decent? It's scenes like this that just made you want to roll your eyes instead of fist pump. But I digress. If you’ve read Tessa Dare or Maya Roydale then you are familiar with anachronistic writing. And most of which isn't intentional. Here, it feels very deliberate. Taking modern topical subjects and punching it into a historical setting. And that's fine, but I prefer more finesse. Yes it's fiction. Yes authors have creative license to tweak things and be creative with themes but when you feel like you are being yelled at from soap box on every few pages from every. single. character. then that's when it's no longer realistic and more of a distraction. People can debate this to their heart's content but you will never convince me this is even remotely realistic for a historical:
And every woman in attendance knew that this party was to be kept secret. The duchess ensured it, by making sure every woman in attendance had access to more than the party. Every guest had access to freedom. On these evenings, just inside the rear entrance to Trevescan House, accessible to all who passed, was an ancient, chipped soup tureen, dug out from the dark corners of the Trevescan kitchen and filled with money. There were no rules for borrowing from the tureen—there were no limits to the amount that could be taken, nor was it required that funds be returned. Instead, the money was available to any guest who needed it. To escape a horrid employer, to help a friend in need, to find passage out of London. No questions asked. Once, Sesily had praised the duchess’s cleverness in adding payment of sorts to the women who attended her soirees, and the other woman had corrected her instantly. The money was to help, not to barter. It was not for quid pro quo, but to ease the ever-present worry that so many women had when money was not available and they were in over their heads. The duchess knew the truth: money was power.
So a rich married Duchess is just filling a tub full of cash for all the employees and servants who attend the ball to take and no one in the ton catches wind of this? Really? And every month? My my my. I very nearly DNF'ed this after that absurd scene.
To be at The Place was to be with Maggie O’Tiernen, owner and proprietress—a Black woman who’d left Ireland for London the moment she was able to build a new life, where she could live freely and embody her authentic self. In doing so, she had built one of London’s most welcoming spaces. Whoever you were, whomever you loved, whatever your journey to yourself, there was a seat for all women at The Place.

The message is beautiful but the delivery is awful. And a big part of that is Sarah’s writing style. It's laborious, obvious and trying very hard. It's so obvious it's the equivalent of characters on a show breaking the 4th wall and looking straight at the camera with a wink like "did you catch that audience?". If there is one thing I cannot stand it’s trying to sell something to me instead of showing it. I don't like to be preached at. Every scene felt like a lesson on correcting and it just takes you out of the story. To each their own, some may love this style. I don’t. Because I’ve read other HR books that delivered this exact message but with more skill and finesse where it didn’t feel like a Ted Talk from 1838. Sarah MacLean has all these ideas about women empowerment and feminism and it's great but don't shout it at me. Make it believable.

4. Feminism. I’m the last person to lecture a female author on how to go about writing feminism. To each their own. But for me? Historical Romance is feminism. Full stop. Read that again. It’s literally rooting for a woman of her time finding her happiness and going against society and social structures put against her. Where a woman has little to no personal choices or freedom but defies expectations by seeking her happiness and exploring her sexual desires. That’s feminism for me. Defying all odds and pushing against barriers for women of that time. The ingredients are all there already. Historical Romance is about escapism, I wasn’t born in that era that’s what makes it so thrilling and exotic for me as a reader and why I want to pick up a HR. But if I wanted to read about a Charlie’s Angels girl gang or Kardashian-inspired scandalous rowdy sisters or bars owned by and hosted for women then I can easily pick up a CR book for that. Clubs and taverns only exclusive to women is cool as hell but when you’re having your characters talk like it’s being read off a cue card or call to action billboard then it loses all sincerity. It feels scripted and very preachy. I want authentic. I want to read about characters who don't feel like they are talking down to you and how men are always the problem. I’m not saying people with this mindset didn’t exist back then or that it's not true. But everyone having the same exact modern mindset? No. You do not need to make all your characters and supporting cast have “revolutionary” ideas when it’s set in 1838. For me what makes HR so compelling is reading about strong females that navigated their world despite everything designed to keep them second class citizens and inferior to men. So if that barrier is taken away, if we get everyone so open minded and treated women the same as men, it ruins that. That conflict is taken away. I'm not asking for 100% accuracy but you need some semblance of characters from the 1800s and not present day 2021 preaching because when that happens the historical illusion is ruined.

So overall, not as bad as I was expecting but then again my expectations were below zero. I've read MacLean's backlist before she decided to steer her writing in a more modern direction so I knew what I was getting into with this one. For what's it's worth the idea is there and I probably would have maybe enjoyed it more if written by someone else. Adelaide standing up to a Viscount who is verbally abusive to his young wife at a dinner party was a great scene for instance. MacLean has her moments in here but her writing waterlogs her. I want to say I'm done for good but....*whispers* maybe not? For now? We'll see. Because I won't lie, Imogen and the bearded Scotland Yard Detective Thomas Peck caught my attention. They gave me serious Pippa and Cross vibes from One Good Earl Deserves a Lover. And so did that interesting scene between Adelaide and the Duke who tried to protect her. Dammit. If I try the next book, please look away. *sigh*
Profile Image for Lover of Romance.
2,696 reviews778 followers
October 16, 2021
This review was originally posted on Addicted To Romance

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.

 photo Addicted To Romance Reviews 2_zpsplp8m0tb.png
151 reviews20 followers
August 24, 2021
The anachronisms were over the top. I don't understand why authors who insist on doing this just don't write contemporary. I feel this type of unrealistic wishful story (fanfic) does disservice to the women who lived these lives aptly chronicled by women of the day. All was not glitter and gloss (the over the top servants party with the open chest of take all the money you need was just ridiculous). This is a fairy tale. The couple were boring as well. I have liked two books written by this author. I think it is time to give up.
Profile Image for Lady Nilambari Reads HR.
322 reviews59 followers
January 21, 2023
1.2 Stars

What the hell happened Sarah MacLean? I want my 5 hours back.

The Plot
Scoffs, I am going to attempt a plot summary!

Scandalous Sesily (introduced in A Rogue Not Taken) has been in insta-lust/insta-love(?) with Caleb (introduced in The day of The Duchess) for about 2 years. She keeps flirting with him, he keeps ignoring her and running away from her due to sins of his past. Until he cannot. They ignore each other, fight, work together, dupe Scotland Yard, have sex, declare their love and live happily ever after. There is a sad little villain and a weak little revenge subplot too.

The Long List of Problems
- The plot is stupid and overtired. The entire thing screams "amateur hour".
- This book is what happens when side characters from previous books who seem somewhat interesting get their own stories.
- The requited but unrequited love trope was just plain confusing.
- The prose is thoroughly modern, words like "hang on, awesome, really", modern concepts of "pub-culture, money laundering, multiple account routing, racial acceptance" frequently come up.
- The Lady Vigilante Group who fancy themselves "problem solvers" behaving like they are in a Victorian version of Sex and the City.
- The plot moves at an alarmingly slow pace. The story is extremely tangential and cyclical, it moves away from the main point, rarely arrives at the crux of the matter and when it does get there, the reader has forgotten the stupid point, to begin with.
- The first 10% of the book feels like some spy planning some assignation only for it to end in a childish prank. It felt like I climbed 70 steps for an awesome view & the window was closed. (This made no sense, yes? Exactly)
- The "big reveal" takes until 70% of the book to come out. The middle 60% are meaningless. The whole thing is meaningless.
- The character depth & development is inadequate. The chemistry between the characters is substandard without emotional maturity or clarity.
- If I read about "The Dangerous Daughters" or "The Soiled S's" or "Sexily" once more, it will be one too many. We had that enough in the past 2 books.
- I don't wish to even get into the historical accuracy.
- I can go on with more problems with examples but I don't think I have the energy.

Why the 1.2 stars
- For finally revealing the deal with Caleb & Sesily after hinting at it in 2 previous books.
- Few interesting side characters. I am looking forward to reading more about the Duchess of Trevescan & the Duke of Claymore. I am sure Lady Adalaide & Lady Imogen get their own stories too.
- The trope is flipped on its head, the Lady is a rake-ish adjacent & the hero needs saving.
- Characters from the previous series make a meek appearance.

The Hero
I like heroes with tortured pasts but this one was TSTL. He checked the basics, handsome, rich, quiet, self-made etc but lacked depth. No one likes whiny heroes. His reason for running away may have been valid but it took so bloody long for him to get to the point that I had lost any sympathy for him by then. I have no clue as to why he fell for the heroine. But you know what, I don't think I care.

The Heroine
There is defying convention & being rebellious and then there is downright childish & shallow. Sesily was less of the former and more of the latter. Continuing the Victorian SATC comparison, she seemed like a historical version of Samantha minus the pragmatism. The character, for me, felt very out of place and failed to inspire any connection. I stand ambiguous. Points for efforts for trying to be an independent lady but it is 1838, so not happening, bro. I did enjoy some of her boldness though.

My Recommendation
Don't bother. It's a waste of time, energy, effort and money. This book was like Benjamin Button - awesomeness in reverse. I cannot believe this is the same author that wrote Nine Rules to Break as her debut novel. Hopefully, the next one in this series will suck less.
Profile Image for Hannah B..
688 reviews860 followers
October 23, 2022
✨”Violent thoughts about fabric”✨

First things first, Avon snapped with this cover. I want it as wallpaper. Second things second, this was my first Sarah MacLean and I am not sad about it. You can absolutely read ‘Bombshell’ without reading any of Sarah’s other books, but I guarantee you’ll want to read them all after you finish this one. I have her last series waiting for me when I get to my apartment and I am SO ready.

I really really really ate up how Sesily truly believed that Caleb was not into her. Clearly wrong, yes, but oh so angsty and amazing. There’s just something so funny to me about Sesily confessing her feelings to him and Caleb just hopping on the next boat outta that bitch. I just picture him George-Clooney running his ass away from those emotions. Like one minute Sesily is talking to him and the next he’s straight up running away while she just stands there. He’s a runner he’s a track star.

I liked him overall but got disgruntled by Caleb having an Edward Cullen complex for the last half of the book with all of that turning himself in nonsense. Run away from the Vulturi, Caleb, not Sesily! There was a quote at the beginning too that reminded me of our OG sparkly sucker—meaning absolutely nothing except that it’s all just poetic that way.

✨“He spent a lifetime priding himself on his understanding of other people—on being able to predict their actions. And somehow, he could never see Sesily Talbot coming.” - Bombshell, 2021

“I can read every mind in this room apart from yours. There's... Money. Sex. Money. Sex. Cat... And then you, nothing. That's very frustrating.” - Twilight (film), 2008✨

It was a steamy read but for some reason the scenes didn’t stick with me; I don’t really remember them. I wanted more depth from the characters during those moments. I loved loved loved everything about the servant’s closet though; never change, servant’s closet, never change. I also appreciated that the characters referenced all explicitly sexual moments between themselves as making love (not just p/v penetration) which I haven’t seen happen a lot.

By the end I was honestly more invested in Imogen and Adelaide’s relationships because while I wanted Caleb and Sesily to be happy, I was just a tad bored at that point. Many curses to Sarah for making side characters compelling as shit. Seriously, if I hadn’t been thinking about the potentials of the next two books, I probably wouldn’t have lost interest in this book.

Overall, I read like mad up until the last 50 pages and enjoyed my time. The ending was cute and I absolutely cannot wait until books two and three release. I really can’t believe book two isn’t Tommy and Imogen though. What in the hell’s belles?

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5 🌶🌶🌶.25/5

P.S. In the prologue, phrases like “wicked Sesily,” “wild Sesily,” “scandalous Sesily,” and “bored Sesily” were italicized and interspersed throughout the section. I’m not sure why, but they really did a number on me. Breathless Hannah. They worked like a chant or something and had me very dramatically reciting the words in my head. It was all very cinematic and a great set up for her character.

P.P.S. This is a personal thing but I’ve never been a fan of reading “fucking perfect” in books. Like “you look fucking perfect tonight.” It always sounds too contrived to me, like the “fucking” overpowers the emotions in the statement and minimizes the statement as a whole? Strange, since “fuck” is one of my favorite words and I love reading it, especially in historical romances. “Fuck” as a verb is hot to me but I like it less as a positive modifier. Caleb said it many times and I’d have just liked more variation. This isn’t a slight against the book, I just wanted to mention it because my feelings about it weird me out.

P.P.P.S. I literally just realized why there were images of bells on the chapters and on the folder Imogen had 😩 IM SO DONE WITH MYSELF LOL. Hell’s Belle’s = bell. Wow I really need to get out more. Ding dong bitch.


Reread update: Yo Mary Jane Wells did NOT need to make his American accent sound that sexy like how is that even possible?? Idk but this audiobook makes the book 10x better. Also this is a book that loves oral sex; he ate her out so many times lmao. The book is light and easy, there wasn’t really a third act break up (it was more like a jailing), and I liked them both.
Profile Image for b.andherbooks.
2,053 reviews873 followers
September 10, 2021
I'm going to be honest, I read this wonderful series starter over the weekend and it was a balm to my soul and I 100% didn't read it critically I only read it for my pleasure, and WORTH EVERY MINUTE.

This book has everything I love bantering while brawling, TENSION, pining, longing, fire inducing attraction, and hidden weapons oh my. Plus the hint of a future couple in the series has already made me desperate for that book.

I'll reread again soon and do a more coherent review some other day, for now, thank you Sarah MacLean, I adore your words.

09/2021 - audiobook listen (thank you HarperAudio and LibroFM for the ALC)

Mary Jane Wells did a sublime job narrating Bombshell - I loved every second of this listen. I even really loved her Caleb American accent! Also, thank you to Sarah MacLean and the gamekeeper's cottage scene for keeping me company over four commutes and VERY happy. I'm so excited to read more about this crew of women, and especially to meet Imogen and the Inspector's HEA someday (fingers crossed)!
Profile Image for Kristina.
504 reviews76 followers
February 4, 2023
You’d think something labeled ‘Blazingly and unapologetically feminist’ would appeal to me. Sadly, this should have been labelled ‘Inaccurate and unapologetically anachronistic’. I love a Victorian historical, I love the juxtaposition of strong women fighting against a very confining society but when you pen that society inaccurately, you lose its effectiveness as a backdrop. There is no way any of this story could have happened or was in any way plausible in the Victorian era. I would love to say it was ambitious but not impossible, but sadly, it just read as stupid and silly. You can’t throw away all the rules and then just cry ‘feminism’. Good gawd.
Now that rant being done, let’s discuss the other issues with this book.

This is the first in a series and yet it follows plots points and characters developed in a previous series. I spent the first bit of the book lost as to who was who in relation to whom. Don’t make a new series if it’s dependent on readers having read previous books. It’s annoying and pulls me out of the story. I feel like I’m at a dinner party and don’t know anyone. (I use this example a lot in my reviews but I love it so 😛).

Next, the tired as hell ‘secret society of women helping women’ premise. I’ve seen this in so many historicals recently, it’s always dumb and now it’s also unoriginal. I get the lure of a spy novel, but please, if you want that feeling WRITE A SPY NOVEL. This just read as silly women playing around at pranks and added to the enormously historically inaccurate feel of this book. This didn’t add any intrigue, it was just silly. I know I keep saying silly, but that’s because I could not take anything in this book seriously.

And then the ‘not like other girls’ heroine - historical style. My eyes still hurt from all the rolling they did as this heroine was described over and over again, as distractingly beautiful, wild, untameable. The Ton referred to her as ‘Sexily’ behind her back, a cheesy play on her name Cecily, because she was SUCH A BAD GIRL! 🙄. She’s so independent and special because she flouts the strict rules of the Ton, she laughs in the face of scandal and yet receives very little, if any, consequences for this behaviour. Why? Because she’s rich, connected and beautiful. Ugh. Irl she’d have been locked away in the country under a spinster cap and have had no say in the matter. Not even her ‘Hell’s Belles’ could have helped her because she would have had no rights at all. No rights to have money, to travel alone, to own property etc. if her family wanted to lock her in a mental hospital, they could have. This unmarried woman behaving this way would not have existed freely in Victorian England. She would not have been invited out to parties, her friends wouldn’t have been allowed to associate with her, she would have been a social pariah. Ugh, now I’m ranting about point one again. Back on topic…

The hero, he was boring and gave major whiplash. He wants her, he can’t want her, he runs away to a new continent to avoid her, he comes back and chases her, then pushes her away, then chases her. My gawd man! Make up your mind! At one point I just wanted him to head back to America on his stupid boat and be done! I love a beta-man, golden retriever, but this guy was just a wishy washy prat.

Sarah Maclean is just not for me anymore. I love a strong heroine trying to make choices for herself in a society that really doesn’t allow it, but if the society makes it as easy as the *fake* one that Maclean has written does, why not just be a contemporary or fantasy romance?

If you want a well researched historical romance, try Lisa Kleypas. If you want a fairytale style, anachronistic but still palatable fantastical historical romance, try Tessa Dare. Maclean seems to be straddling the line of both genres and as a result, her books are just messy and annoying.

Well Mary Jane Wells, I love your narration, but even you couldn’t overcome the deficits in this book.
Profile Image for Crystal Cook.
739 reviews1,203 followers
July 5, 2021
Bite size review: Clever, sizzling, achingly romantic perfection. FINALLY Caleb and Sesily's story. A slow burning, tightly woven plot culminating in a powerful and epic HEA. I loved it. Full review below!

Lady Sesily Talbot is used to living a life of scandal and honestly embraces the attention it gives her. She is a woman embracing her appeal in an era that tells her not to. Caleb Calhoun, an American who has pined for her for years, sees her sneaking into a dark garden with a strange man one night and follows her, finding out what appeared to be a midnight tryst was anything but.

Worried about what Sesily has gotten herself into and coaxed by her sister and his friend, the Duchess of Haven, Caleb behind following Sesily to keep her safe and hopefully out of trouble. But Sesily is not the only one keeping secrets, and the attraction and pull they have felt and fought for each other for two long years can only be denied for so long.

This book was another impressive work by MacLean, it is full of all of the things we love about her work. Strong heroines with autonomy and agency, a fiercely loyal girl gang, a world set in a time we've never experienced but that feels so vivid and real to us, and of course heroes who are out of their minds in love with the heroine.

This book had a bit of a slow start for me, which makes sense considering it is the start of a new series and Sarah is really laying the groundwork for an intricate plot for future books. But the pay off for that slow build was incredible and one of the most satisfying reading experiences I've had in a long time.

The heat between Caleb and Sesily was so palpable it felt like my eReader might start on fire. And the bedroom scenes were absolutely sizzling. But what I loved the very most was how satisfying that ending was, how every bit of groundwork and plot threads paid off and how I was left thinking, WOW, now this is how you do modern historical romance.

There was also great banter, some laugh out loud humor, MANY Easter Eggs of past characters MacLeaniverse fans will enjoy, and ultimately a hero to applaud and add to my list of best book boyfriends.

I loved this book and can't wait for the next!
Profile Image for Maureen Carden.
273 reviews70 followers
September 9, 2022
I thought for sure the scandalous Lady Sesily Talbot would end the Scandal and Scoundrel’s series with a bang. Sheesh, I was half right, but I should have known one series was too big to contain Lady Sesily and Caleb Calhoun. Instead Lady Sesily starts off the new Hell’s Belle’s series first book, Bombshell (Hell's Belles #1), with a bang. Not a literal one, it’s just that Sesily just about explodes a room with her outsized personality, and her joie de vive. I think the actual bangs will come later in the series.
Lady Sesily and I are good enough friends that I will dispose of the title and go with just Sesily. I am positive she would prefer it. Her father won the title of Earl in a card game with the Prince Regent. Since he was a coal magnate, the five Talbot sisters were known as the soiled sisters. Ha! This title beat these women down so badly that four of them married and became a duchess, marchioness, countess and wife of one of the wealthiest men in Britain.
Sesily just wants Caleb Calhoun, the wealthy American partnered with her sister, Seraphina, in owning a bar. In both Caleb’s and Sera’s eyes this makes Sesily off limits.
When Caleb scurried back to America after kissing Sesily, the Duchess of Trevescan invited Sesily to join her small group of women, the Hell’s Belles who are determined to help women trapped by abusive husbands or abusive employers. Class matters little to these four strong willed women.
As an aside, I want to say the prologue of the book was truly one of the most playful and delightful beginnings to a book I’ve read. Even with a heartbroken Sesily. Neat trick.
Two years after returning to America, Caleb returns and quickly stumbles onto the little group of friends. He worries the actions of these fierce and clever women will land them into deep trouble. Despite fearing close proximity to Sesily, Caleb tries to keep track of her.
The theme of strong feminism in Bombshell , set during the hopeful beginnings of Queen Victoria’s reign, is marvelous to read about. I hope there really were strong women during that time doing their best to help other women. Sadly history is written by the victor and the victors are always men.
Caleb holds his own secrets keeping him from Sesily, MacLean does a good job of hinting, but then making the secrets a total surprise.
This is Sesily’s and Caleb’s story to be sure, but the rest of the Hell’s Belles are so delightful and intriguing that the next books will be hotly anticipated.
Speaking of hot…three words, Caleb and Sesily.
I had a major problem with Bombshell . Sarah MacLean carried the wink and nod cuteness of her anachronisms a star too far in Bombshell . “Lean into it”? Referencing Casablanca in an obvious way? There were more.
MacLean is the author of three of my top ten favorite HR series and three of my top ten individual books. I am anxious to see where the Hell’s Belles land.
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC for review purpose.
Profile Image for Christina Lauren.
Author 96 books62.2k followers
August 23, 2021
This book! Bombshell is definitely Sarah MacLean at her absolute best and this was the most fun I've had reading in a long time. If you're looking for adventure, badass women, bar fights, toe curling chemistry and a romance that will knock you on your ass then this is the book for you. A ride from start to finish.
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,119 reviews1,327 followers
September 7, 2021
Read more of my reviews @ The Infinite Limits of Love.

Sarah MacLean, you own me! Caleb and Sesily, you also own me! Could I simply leave my review of Bombshell at that? No? OK, but don't yell at me when my review doesn't do the book justice because I possibly couldn't. Like many of Sarah MacLean's long-time fans, I've been eagerly anticipating a story for Sesily. Bombshell was everything I wanted for her character. It's a feisty, sexy, and achy historical romance novel that is immediately going into my re-read shelf.

Are Rebellious Historical Romance Heroines My Favorite?
It's always fun for me reading about characters in historical romances who rebel against the patriarchy during a time period when they didn't have a lot of freedom or rights. Sesily was 100% a rebellious firecracker of a heroine who gives zero f***s about what society thinks of her. I love that she was so unapologetic about who she was and could care less about what others thought of her. She could have easily let others opinions of her - they call her "Sexily" - influence her negatively, but instead, my queen embraced it and channeled her time and energy into more fruitful aspirations. She and her friends a.k.a the Hell's Belles take down the worst of the gross men in the British aristocracy, often spying on them to take the perfect revenge.

An Impressive Secondary Cast
Speaking of the Hell's Belles, I loved this wayward group of women and how they bonded together. I'm such a sucker for outcasts teaming up to do good work and becoming the best of friends along the way. Adelaide, Imogen, and their mysterious leader, The Duchess, were all such an intriguing cast of secondary characters. I loved what I saw of them and I'm crossing ALL my fingers and toes that we'll get to see their books in the rest of this series.

We've Got A Pining Hero In The Room, Friends
While the incredible women are most certainly the shining stars of this series, Sesily's love interest, Caleb, managed to hold his own. UGH. Pining romance heroes are so of my favorite romance heroes and my man, Caleb, brought alllllll the longing. He and Sesily met each other through his best friend and her sister. He has just returned America at the start of Bombshell and has been carrying a torch for Sesily for what feels like forever.

I loved Caleb as a love interest because he entirely respected what Sesily did and didn't try to meddle too much in her affairs. He did have a wildly protective streak when it came to her but it never felt overbearing. I was obsessed with how much of a simp he was when it came to Sesily. The man worshipped her and there was no denying they were meant to be. Caleb may have been gruff on the outside but it was because he was hiding a secret, one that will have you falling even more in love with him.

This Romance, Y'all
As you can imagine, the romance between Sesily and Caleb is one of the best parts of Bombshell. They both clearly had feelings for each other, but neither wants to reveal their true affections because they worried that their feelings were unrequited. This created some deliciously sweet angst in the story and we all know how I feel about angst. I loved their banter with each other and when they give in to the flaming-hot chemistry they shared, it was sublime. Sarah MacLean knows how to write a good punch-Nick-in-the-guts and loins-on-fire romance and I love her for it. It's so swoony. If that doesn't convince you, there's an AMAZING ANGSTY RAIN KISS THAT TURNS INTO MORE!!

So Why Not 5 Stars?
The only reason Bombshell isn't a 5-stars read for me is that I felt it was a little long and could have been shortened. I like my historical romances on the shorter side and that's definitely a me-tick.

If you're a fan of Sarah MacLean and have been looking forward to Sesily's book, I think you'll be very pleased with her story. If you're new to Sarah MacLean's books, this is also a great spot to try her work.


Content notes: violence, murder, abuse

Relationship disclosure: Sarah MacLean and I are mutuals on social media
Profile Image for Pepa.
922 reviews228 followers
September 30, 2022
Reseña completa: https://masromance.blogspot.com/2022/...

Me ha parecido una continuación de El día de la duquesa ya que esta pareja empieza sus andaduras en esa novela y lo poco que se comenta en esta historia, no termina de dar la información necesaria (siempre en mi opinión) para disfrutar del todo de la historia.
La pareja ya está enamorada, y aquí lo único que hacen es resolver diferencias... y como novela romántica su historia no me ha parecido de las mejores de la autora
La autora peca de modernidad en sus novelas, así que, si el romance me apasiona, lo paso por alto, sino, pues lo noto mucho más.
Muy entretenida y de ágil lectura, pero da vueltas y vueltas a lo mismo
A veces la realidad supera la ficción y aunque la autora al final aclare cierto tema importante, he de decir que este tipo de protagonistas, en otras novelas han resultado más convincentes. Creo que los matices son muy importantes y aquí me he quedado con ganas de más.
Una pena porque esta autora me gusta mucho y estoy encantada de que la sigan traduciendo, a ver qué tal sigue la serie. Desde luego, todas van a ser protagonistas fuera de lo común
Profile Image for stl_reader.
87 reviews7 followers
September 19, 2021
Have enjoyed some of Sarah's books in the past, but any "historical" series that is described as "unapologetically feminist" is a hard pass for me. What this means, in my experience anyway, is that the book is actually a 21st-century romance (with 21st-century values and viewpoints) that takes place in, say, the 1800s.

Or, to put it another way, "unapologetically feminist" = "politically correct for 2021, so you won't have a reason to cancel me or my publisher". Which is just so ironic, because the more "woke" historicals become, the less I read them.
Profile Image for Sarah.
6 reviews8 followers
August 26, 2021
Why do I keep doing this, reading her books. Hoping….
Well this was terrible, another contemporary romance playing dress up for a historical romance.
Well we are finished Sarah MacClean. Can’t do this.
January 2, 2022
Ever since Sarah MacLean teased readers of Sesily and Caleb's attraction in The Day of the Duchess, I've been hooked on these two! I was disappointed when their book didn't end the Scandal & Scoundrel series and thought that they would never get their own book. I think because I listened to the audiobook narrated by Mary Jane Wells (luuuvv herrrr), I enjoyed this book more than my GR friends. I don't know how many of them had read The Day of the Duchess, but I think the nostalgia also contributed to my enjoyment and how I was able to overlook the anachronisms in the book.

Some parts did drag a little, like the first couple of chapters. lol. I really liked the . It was fast-paced and exciting to see Sesily in action. It brought out Caleb's protectiveness, which I loved but I did get a little frustrated with him later when he kept insisting that she needs protection when obviously she can take care of herself. I suppose my modern way of thinking is showing a little bit here. lol

There was some forced proximity that brought our H/h together, which I didn't mind because I wanted to see them together (after waiting four years for their book). Caleb has a secret past that kept him from having a future with Sesily, so there was some angst there, which I luuuuvvv!!! I do agree with other reviewers that the reveal took too long.

When we're first introduced to Sesily's three friends, it was a bit overwhelming. Too many characters at once, but I am looking forward to Adelaide and Imogen's books after seeing a glimpse of their interaction with their future heroes in this book. I haven't warmed up to the Duchess yet, the leader of their girl gang. The narrator kind of portrayed her as a cold and calculating person but I understand that the Duchess was just being cautious and she does care about Sesily.

I've been waiting four years for Sesily and Caleb to get their own book and I'm glad that this didn't end up being a disappointment. My GR friends know how harsh I can be sometimes. lol

Some of my favorite quotes from Caleb:

Ch.16: “I’ve liked you from the moment I met you. From the moment you looked at me with those beautiful, teasing eyes, and flashed me that smile that makes promises I want you to absolutely keep.”

Ch.19: “I come back because I cannot stay away.”
"Stay away from what?"
"From you."

Ch.19: “I would walk into fire if it meant seeing you one last time. And I would not hesitate.” *clutches my chest*
Profile Image for PlotTrysts.
523 reviews147 followers
September 1, 2022
Bombshell has a lot of what we like about Sarah MacLean: modern references in a historical setting, super fun female characters who define their own roles in society, and scorching hot sex scenes - all in a coherent world that began way back in Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. We've been waiting for Caleb and Sesily's story since The Day of the Duchess, so we were stoked to finally be reading it.

Bombshell is also the start of a new series, Hell's Belles, which will revolve around a vigilante group of high society women. We are so ready to read about safecracking chemists, bluestockings with hidden depths, and the men who will come to love them. What we weren't sure about was combining the two things - a long-awaited romance between beloved secondary characters AND a brand new series concept. We wouldn't have minded a little more romance and lyricism between Caleb and Sesily!

45 Word Summaries:

Laine: Sesily was never going to fade quietly into spinsterhood, so it makes sense that she'd join a troupe of vigilante women getting revenge. Thank goodness her investigations lead to her finding out secrets of his past that he'd never tell her himself, like an adult.⁠

Meg: Sesily has been pining for Caleb since she first met him, and we devoted readers all know he’s been doing the same thing. It takes a bar brawl, a rainy walk on the moors, some spying, and a jailbreak for him to see the light.

This objective review is based on a complimentary copy of the novel.
Profile Image for maura delaney.
339 reviews62 followers
July 31, 2021

This book is feminist as hell and I love it for that!!!

Sesily was the star of this show and Caleb complimented her so well. They had fantastic banter and I felt the chemistry from the very beginning. This is definitely one of the most unique books I've read in a while. It has a clever and engaging plot that keeps women at the front of the story.

The middle slowed down a little and I think that could be because of a bit of an excessive inner monologue and narrative. I wish that the middle had that same spark that the beginning and end did.

I want to go back now and read her other books so that I see the rest of Sesily's sisters' stories. I already can't wait for the next book in the series.

ARC provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

i just got an arc of this book and i am SOOO excitied!!
Profile Image for kris.
932 reviews179 followers
April 19, 2022
Lady Sesily "Sexily" Talbot enjoys being a scandal: it means she's able to do the things she needs to in order to protect other women of the ton. Except Caleb Calhoun, American business dude, who won't stop watching her, even though he ALLEGEDLY doesn't want her in the bone-down way. They figure it out (hint: it's about boning-down). The end.

1. I skimmed 60% of this so this isn't quite a fair review. But I spent weeks making it to 40%, which means I earned this. (When I'm not struggling, I could finish a book of this length in an afternoon. But I struggled. Oh, did I struggle.)

2. I despised this thing—not because of the writing! MacLean's still got the good prose! And not because of the characters—I mostly liked Sesily and her friends (looking forward to their books, I think?) and Caleb.

So why did I hate it? Because I don't like "we've known each other for YEARS now and our feelings and lusts have been on a low boil THE ENTIRE TIME and the reason we haven't acted on them is (select one: SECRETS, obligation, honor, selfishness, ANOTHER BULLSHIT REASON)". I don't believe in them: they're just emotional wankery. There's always all this hurt from one or both thinking the other doesn't want them / doesn't like them when really they're on the same page THE ENTIRE TIME and if they would just COMMUNICATE ABOUT IT things would WORK OUT FINE. WHICH THEY DO.

Literally the moment Sera told Caleb that Sesily had wanted him "the whole time" I was DONE. Like: what the actual fuck. Why am I bothering to read about two horndogs that want to fuck so badly that it takes the interference of one of their sisters to "course correct"? That's not sexy.

3. And yes, literally two chapters later there's cunnilingus in a butler's closet of the villainous Viscount.

4. And SURE you COULD argue that there are other reasons they're not doing the dirty on the regular (i.e., SECRETS, HONOR, BLAH BLAH BLAH) but I do not care. I just don't. I'm not even sorry about it: it's just a fact.

5. I'm not sure I have much else to say: Caleb's a nothing of a hero with a DEEP DARK SECRET and BURNING LOINS; Sesily is TOO SEXY TO FUNCTION but also MORE THAN SHE APPEARS. There is a wide and varied cast of supporting characters and secret plots to expose bad men who hate women. If you like reunited wannabe-lovers, you might like Bombshell.
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,830 reviews5,504 followers
December 1, 2021
I read a good amount of Sarah MacLean, so I know what to expect with her romance books. Bombshell was pretty in line with my expectations: in some ways it was very compelling, and in other ways utterly ridiculous.

I know Sarah MacLean likes to write bad-a$$ girl romances, and I deeply appreciate that, but I think sometimes she crosses the line from conceivable to historical-punk-fever dream. Is that a bad thing? I'm not sure.

I think if the pacing had been brisker, I could have overlooked the flaws in the plotlines, but I found my attention dragging a bit though the middle. Even though there was plenty of action, it felt a bit long at times. I did enjoy the pining and the chemistry, though I wish they just communicated better all along.

A fun read that kept me wanting to read more, but with lots of plot holes and ridiculous antics.

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

Profile Image for Robert Fontenot.
816 reviews8 followers
August 8, 2021
Looking at other reviews, I know a lot of people like this book but I just cannot get into it. To start with, it’s hard to take it seriously as historical fiction. I’ve seen people discuss it as regency, but it is well past that period, closer to Elizabeth Gaskell, perhaps, than Jane Austen. not that it matters, as very little of the book has anything to do with with Victorian England. Sure there are carriages and candles and corsets but the bar brawls and the girl gangs set on revenge, characters who behave oddly even for a modern day setting, and an utter lack of sense of place constantly dragged me out of the supposed setting. I had better luck reading when I treated it more as a fantasy novel, replacing British place names with gobbledygook names in my head.
Aside from that, I found the writing to be frustratingly circular, with large amounts of repetition and very little forward movement. I found myself repeatedly unsure of the paragraph I was even in and I had trouble focusing on the page.
2 reviews
August 28, 2021
I have never written a review here before but I just feel so cheated by this book, I had to say something about it in the hopes the author will consider going back to her old writing style!

I have read every Sarah Maclean book out there and this was just the worst. Everything about it was forced. It dragged on for pages. There was absolutely no chemistry between the hero and heroine, when the finally fell in love, it was hard to see why/how. I feel like the author just threw together a bunch of random troupes that have worked in the past and hoped for the best. It’s so disappointing because Caleb and Sesily had so much potential for something great when they were introduced in the previous books. I was really looking forward to this book and I feel robbed of my time spent reading it I truly kept hoping it would get better but what a disappointment!
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,014 reviews12.8k followers
August 15, 2022
2.5 stars

The beginning of this book had so much promise, but I quickly lost interest and didn't care about this romance. In the beginning, I liked Sesily enough. I was really intrigued by her relationship with Tom and how that was going to play out. There were some exciting times where Sesily gets into trouble and they have to fight their way out of situations. I enjoyed how she didn't care about getting into danger or trouble and would carry weapons on her. But the overall plot was so boring to me and not a while lot really happens. There were a lot of characters and some background information that wasn't explained well, so I felt like I was missing information I was supposed to already have going into this book. About halfway through the book, I was pretty bored and didn't really want to keep reading. I finished to see if things ended up getting interesting, but not a whole lot was happening and I wasn't really into the romance.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,894 reviews3,114 followers
July 5, 2022
I have a complicated relationship with Sarah MacLean's books. On paper I feel like I should love them: strong heroines with agency, modern sensibilities, tackling social issues... In practice I've had really mixed experiences and Bombshell wasn't a favorite for me.

I want to be clear. Sarah gets a lot of sh*t for having a more modern tone to her historicals, and I could care less about that. If I want something that intensely period I'll read Jane Austen or George Elliott. Plus people who talk about historical accuracy often have a specific idea of what that means that real historical figures don't always live up to. Queer people, people of color, and women with agency have existed throughout history and we have plenty of accounts of openly "scandalous" behavior" I have no issue with what she and other modern romance authors are doing on that front and I think it's great to have this in historical romances.

My issue is more that I wasn't invested in the actual romance. I also felt like I was missing things, having not read all of her previous books. Apparently this is the start of a new series, but draws heavily on earlier series and it seems like consistent readers of her books are enjoying this more. I liked Sesily fine, but I didn't buy that she was really falling for Caleb. Intrigued and attracted? Sure. But I found him to be really unlikeable until basically the end when he finally admits that Sesily is capable of making good decisions and taking care of herself. I believed he was obsessed with her, but I didn't get why she would be into him given her personality. There was steam, but not enough depth to the relationship for me.

I like the Hell's Belles- women who are making things happen and fighting for justice. I liked the themes this tackles in terms of class, gender, and oppression. But as a ROMANCE, I just didn't care that much. And I'm bummed because I WANT to love her books because I like the project of them and I think Sarah herself is great. Which is why I keep trying them. But so far most of them haven't hit the way I've hoped.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,334 reviews1,821 followers
September 29, 2021
Incase my recent string of two star reads hasn't implied it, I am in a rut. A joy rut. I am a sopping wet blanket of no-fun. So of course, even though I'm bouncing between genres and styles and premises, said sad blanket has smothered any enjoyment out of this new series opener which also happens to be an overdue HEA for a couple from.. I don't know, a few series ago? Alas.. is it me or was the book also kind of meh? I might say it's half and half. This wasn't remotely as interesting as MacLean's plots have been recently, so. Giving myself 50% of a pass here. But yeah it's also still me.

I don't know what's worse; a slump that makes you unable to read or a slump that has you devouring everything and disliking 98% of your consumed content. Urgh.

So, yeah, obviously take this review, as always, with a salty grain o'salt.

2.5 stars
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