Bombshell was my first Sarah MacLean read and the first title in the Hell’s Belles series. While this wasn’t my favorite read this year at all, it did introduce me to an author I think I am going to grow to adore!

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The summary, from Amazon:

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.

Buy Bombshell here.

Sesily is an unmarried woman, 30-years-old, and a total scandal. She has affairs and lives life how she wants to, but is in a way protected due to her friendships with a duchess as well as her sisters’ advantageous marriages (though they’ve had scandals of their own). But the only man she’s ever wanted, Caleb, will not have her. When he returns to London after having run away from it – and her – again, he keeps putting himself in her path, both protecting her and frustrating her through her various shenanigans. Sesily and her three best friends have formed an organization to take down some of the worst men in society in their own unique ways, from publicly embarrassing them to doing, well, whatever it takes to keep women safe and give them more agency. But Caleb’s secrets seem to have something to do with the group’s latest target, a disgusting viscount with a notorious, murderous past.

Bombshell certainly has a modern tone that I know not all historical romance readers like, but I enjoyed that. So much of historical romance is based in fantasy – there were certainly not that many hot, woke dukes in their 20’s and 30’s back in the day. Sesily was such a loveable character, though I wasn’t necessarily rooting for her to get together with Caleb, no matter how much she wanted him or how hot their moments together were. His constant need to protect her from his dangerous past annoyed me. Sesily carries a knife and can kick ass. She doesn’t require protection.

Nonetheless, this was a really fun, SPICY read, and I look forward to Heartbreaker, the next in the series.

Bombshell (Hell's Belles, #1)Bombshell by Sarah MacLean
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Loved Sesily and was rooting for her the entire time, but I was less invested in Caleb. I liked the modern tone – it was fun, and I think it was done well! Historical romance doesn’t always need to be accurate to be good – so much of the genre is thinly veiled fantasy anyway. And I am in *need* of heroines in their thirties, especially in my beloved historical genre which so often focuses 22-year-old maidens. The chapters upon chapters of Caleb refusing to be with Sesily to keep her safe (imagine that?? Girl is a whirlwind??) was just annoying to me. I wanted her to move on and find another man, LOL. But the characters were all great and I am SO looking forward to diving into my ARC of Heartbreaker!!

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Book Club Questions

  1. Describe the relationship dynamic between Sesily and Caleb.
  2. Who was your favorite of the Belles? Why?
  3. Did you expect the twist? What foreshadowing did the author provide?
  4. How is Sesily subversive?
  5. Do you think this book is realistic for the time period in which it takes place? How so? How not?
  6. What do you think of historical fiction (in particular romance) titles that take on a more modern tone?

Interested? Buy Bombshell.
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