By Sarah MacLean
Publication Date: August 24,2021
Series or Standalone: Hell’s Belles
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
I’ve been waiting for Sesily’s story since we met her in A Rogue Not Taken over five years ago. I was also so worried her love story with Caleb would not live up to all the hype around this book. It’s safe to say that Bombshell truly lives up to the hype – and even exceeds it – in so many ways. I didn’t want this book to end while reading. I actually cried happy tears when I finished it because it was so dang perfect and I was so happy to have the story in my life. It literally blew me away.
Lady Sesily Talbot has embraced being a walking scandal. No one second-guesses her leaving a ballroom for a tryst. Little do they know she’s up to something more than that. The only person who sees through her is Caleb Calhoun, the American business partner of her sister. Ever since Sesily walked into Caleb’s life two years ago, he’s tried his hardest to forget her. However, he can’t seem to get her out of his head, especially when she keeps getting into dangerous late-night escapades while he’s around. As the two of them continue to get thrown together, it’s hard for him to stay away from her, even though he knows he has to, and she wants nothing more than for him to notice her and desire her.
This book had everything including things I didn’t even know I wanted from it. A kickass girl gang? Check. Hardcore pining between our leads? Check. A cabinet bang? Check. Tavern brawl? Check. Kissing in front of a dead body? Check. Explosions – both literal and figurative? CHECK.
Sesily might be one of my favorite MacLean characters ever, and that’s saying something as she writes some amazing female characters. I’ve always loved and admired how Sesily was always herself. She revels in the scandal and managed to turn society’s scorn into power. She also always has the back of her friends and family, no matter what. And I couldn’t wait to spend a whole book with her.
In Bombshell, Sesily was even more of an intriguing character than before. She truly turned her scandalous reputation into a weapon to take down the terrible men in society who hurt, misuse and look down upon women. While the rest of the world might see Sesily as reckless, she’s fierce, independent, confident, clever, sexy and able to protect herself. I loved every minute we got to spend with her. Her feelings towards Caleb also tugged right at my heartstrings. For a girl nicknamed Sexily, the one man she wants more than anything doesn’t want her back and it’s killing her. While she tries to act like her typical flirty, charming self around Caleb, she wants nothing more for him to notice her and see her for the woman she is.
I’m not sure if Caleb is my favorite MacLean male lead, but he’s got to be up there. Ever since he showed up in The Day of the Duchess, I’ve been waiting to get more of Sesily and him. The connection between them was there from the start. MacLean definitely added more depth to him in this novel than what we saw previously. There is more to the American than meets the eye.
I honestly wasn’t expecting this book to have a hero with a secret, but that’s what we get. I’m a sucker for that trope as I love trying to figure out what the secret is that prevents them from being with the person they love and MacLean did a great job with peeling back the layers until all is revealed about Caleb’s past. I also love it when the male lead is so far gone for the woman and Caleb definitely falls in that bucket. As much as Caleb tries to put distance between him and Sesily to protect her, he cannot help but be in her orbit.
When it comes to the romance between Caleb and Sesily, MacLean knows how to pack all the emotional punches. It was perfect. There was so much longing and pining between them for so long. My heart was aching so many times for Sesily and Caleb as they both wanted each other but circumstances kept getting in the way. The push and pull between the two of them was fire. When they come together, it’s explosive. Truly, MacLean knows how to write some steamy love scenes (hello servant’s cupboard!). But when they get pushed apart, it’s devastating. I feel like for every step forward, they would take two steps back in their relationship. That might sound problematic, but it worked really well for this story. It builds up the tension and helped push Caleb and Sesily forward in the relationship and their character’s journey. I will say at one point I did yell at Caleb as he decided to make a stupid ass decision, but luckily Sesily, like Nick Fury, elected to ignore it and take matters into her own hands.
Outside Sesily and Caleb and the romance, what also made this book so special was the supporting cast of characters. MacLean always does an amazing job with her secondary characters – probably because they’ll end up stars of their own book – and the supporting cast in Bombshell is no exception.
I loved the ladies who make up the rest of Sesily’s the Hell’s Belles. The Duchess of Trevescan is the ring leader of the whole enterprise and perhaps the biggest mystery of the gang. I’m very curious as to what set her down the path she’s on of taking down terrible men. Then we have Imogen Loveless who will find any excuse to blow things up. She might be my favorite of the group. I have an idea of who she’ll be paired up with and I’m very excited for when we get her story. Finally, Adelaide, the shy wallflower who collects secrets, rounds out the group. I really liked her as well and cannot wait to get her story next as we got a little bit of a setup of who it will be with. The banter of this group is what really sold me on them though. While they’re not sisters by blood, they act as a family nevertheless. They all have each other’s backs and will protect each other against any threat – whether it be physical or emotional.
We also get to see some familiar faces from the MacLean universe with Sesily’s sisters – the Dangerous Daughters all grown up. They’re another fierce group of girls who also have Sesily’s back no matter what. Honestly, this book delivers on strong female characters all around. There are also some fun little cameos from other characters in the MacLean universe which makes for great easter eggs for long-time fans of hers.
This has turned into a much longer review than I anticipated, but I cannot help but gush about this book. It made me cry after finishing it, for goodness sake! Not because it was sad, but because I was so happy to have this story in my life. The wait for the next book will be killer, but I’m already looking forward to getting an opportunity to reread this one.
There is no doubt that Bombshell delivers on the hype. It’s a smart, sexy, thrilling read that will keep you on your toes and tug at your heartstrings. This book is one you won’t want to miss!