Three brothers, bound by a secret they cannot escape . . .
The Devil, all vengeance and vice
The Beast, all fists and fury
The Duke, all power and past
. . . and the women who bring them to their knees.

THE BAREKNUCKLE BASTARDS
A NEW SERIES FROM SARAH MACLEAN
COMING JUNE 2018

WICKED AND THE WALLFLOWER
Bareknuckle Bastards, Book I

June 19, 2018


When Wicked Comes Calling…

When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a husband, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees to his suspicious terms—on one condition. She's seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won't accept a marriage without it.

The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain...

Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.

For the Promise of Passion...

But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she'd rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos and he must choose between everything he's ever wanted…and the only thing he's ever desired.

 

Preorder Wicked and the Wallflower from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, iTunes, Kobo, Google Books, your local indie, or *my* local indie (to receive signed books and swag!). 

UK readers can Preorder at AmazoniBooksKobo & Waterstones


Excerpt from Wicked & the Wallflower

Chapter One

May 1837

  The Devil stood outside Marwick House, under the black shadow of an ancient elm, watching his brother within.
  Flickering candles and mottled glass distorted the revelers in the ballroom beyond, turning the throngs of people within—aristocrats and moneyed gentry—into a mass of indiscernible movement, reminding Devil of the tide of the Thames, ebbing and flowing and slick with color and stink.
  Faceless bodies—men dark with formal dress and women gleaming light in their silks and satins—ran together, barely able to move for the craning necks and flapping fans waving gossip and speculation through the stagnant ballroom air.
  And at their center, the man they were desperate to see—the hermit Duke of Marwick, shining bright and new, despite having held the title since his father had died. Since their father had died. 
  No. Not father. Sire. 
  And the new duke, young and handsome, returned like London’s prodigal son—a head taller than the rest of the assembly, fair-haired and stone-faced, with the amber eyes the Dukes of Marwick had boasted for generations. Able-bodied and unwed and everything the aristocracy wished him to be.
  And nothing the aristocracy believed him to be.
  Devil could imagine the ignorant whispers running riot through the ballroom.
         Why should a man of such prominence play the hermit?
                        Who cares, as long as he’s a duke?
         Do you think the rumors are true?
                        Who cares, as long as he’s a duke?
        Why hasn’t he ever come to town?
                        Who cares, as long as he’s a duke?
         What if he’s as mad as they say? 
                        Who cares, as long as he’s a duke?

         I hear he is in the market for an heir.
   There had been a deal, made twenty years earlier, when they were three brothers in arms. And though much had happened since that deal had been forged, one thing remained sacrosanct: no one reneged on a deal with Devil.
   Not without punishment.
   And so, Devil waited with infinite patience in the gardens owned by generations of Dukes of Marwick, for the third in the deal to arrive. It had been decades since he and his brother, Whit—together known in London’s nefarious corners as the Bareknuckle Bastards—had seen the duke.    Decades since they’d escaped the country seat of the Dukedom in the dead night, leaving secrets and sins behind, to build their own kingdom of secrets and sins of a different sort.
   But, a fortnight earlier, invitations had arrived at the most extravagant homes in London—the ones with the most venerable names—even as servants had arrived at Marwick House, armed to the teeth with dusters and wax, with irons and airing lines. One week earlier, crates had been delivered—candles and cloth, potatoes and port, and a half-dozen settees for the massive Marwick ballroom, each now festooned with the skirts of London’s most eligible ladies. .
   Three days ago, the News of Londonarrived at the Bastards’ Covent Garden headquarters and there, on the fourth page, a headline in smudged ink pronounced “Mysterious Marwick to Marry?”
   Devil had carefully folded the paper and left it upon his desk. When he’d returned to his workspace two mornings ago, a throwing knife speared the newsprint to the oak.
   And so it was decided.
   The duke had returned, appearing without warning in this place designed for better men and filled with the worst of them, on land that he had inherited the moment he’d claimed his title, in a city he had ceded to them. And in doing so, he revealed his greed.
   But greed, in this place, on this land, was not permitted.
   So, Devil waited and watched.
   After long minutes, the air shifted and Whit appeared at his elbow, silent and deadly as a military reinforcement, which was appropriate, as this was nothing short of war.
   “Just on time,” Devil said, softly.
   A grunt.
   “The Duke seeks a bride?”
   A nod in the darkness.
   “And heirs?”
   Silence. Not ignorance—anger.
   Devil watched their bastard brother move through the crowd within, headed forthe far end of the ballroom, where a dark corridor stretched into the bowels of the house. It was his turn to nod. “We end it before it begins.” He palmed his ebony walking stick, its silver lion’s mane, worn from use, fitting perfectly into his hand. “In and out, and enough damage that he cannot follow us.”
   Whit nodded, but did not speak what they were both thinking—that the man London called Robert, Duke of Marwick the boy they’d once known as Ewan, was more animal than aristocrat, and the only man who knew the past from which they’d fled. But that was before Devil and Whit had become the Bareknuckle Bastards, the Kings of Covent Garden, and learned to wield weapons with precision to match their threats.
   Tonight, they would show him that London was their turf and return him to the country. It was only a matter of getting inside and doing just that—reminding him of that promise they’d made long ago.
   The Duke of Marwick would beget no heirs.
   “Good chase.” Whit’s words came on a low growl, his voice ragged from disuse.
   “Good chase,” Devil replied, and the two moved in expedient silence to the dark shadows below the railing of the long balcony, knowing they would have to act quickly to avoid being seen.
   With fluid grace, Devil scaled the balcony, leaping over the balustrade, landing silently in the shadows beyond, Whit following. They made for the door, knowing that the conservatory would be locked and off limits to guests, making it the perfect entry point to the house. The Bastards wore formalwear—preparing to blend into the crowd until they found the duke and dealt their blow.
   Marwick would be neither the first nor the last aristocrat to receive a punishment from the Bareknuckle Bastards, but Devil and Whit had never wished to deliver it so well.
   Devil’s hand had barely landed on the door handle when it turned beneath his touch. He released it instantly, backing away, fading into the darkness even as Whit launched himself back over the balcony and onto the lawn below without sound.
   And then the girl appeared.