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Monday, December 2, 2013

ARC Review: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah Maclean

Sarah Maclean once again demonstrates her writing excellence with No Duke Goes Unpunished, the third installment in the Rules of Scoundrels series. It is a beautifully written story that is a little hard to read at times because the characters are so filled with anger and regret. Strong writing evokes strong reactions and this is very strong writing. It engaged my emotions causing me to both chuckle and cry. Reading the book was an intensely emotional experience as we follow two people that were victims of their own choices, choices with unintended consequences.

William Harrow, Duke of Lamont, known as Temple, is believed to have murdered his father’s young bride. He has become a pariah, thus causing him to embrace life as an unbeaten boxer at the Fallen Angel, a gambling club he owns with his friends. Twelve years after the “murder” the supposed victim, Mara Lowe, decides to offer her absolution for the murder in exchange for the money her brother gambled away at the Fallen Angel. Mara has been in hiding, running an orphanage for boys under an assumed name. Temple has every reason to hate Mara for setting up the “murder.” Mara never intended for things to turn out the way they did. These two have dozens of reasons to stay apart, yet they find themselves caught up in intrigue and desire. The road to their Happily Ever After is a very long, very rocky one.

Conflict is essential in telling a story. Most books employ a fair amount of conflict between the hero and heroine in order to develop their character and to move the story forward. No Duke Goes Unpunished begins with the hero and heroine so deeply enmeshed in a seriously hurtful conflict that it was difficult to see how they would ever get beyond it. In many ways this was a sad book for me because both of them had lost so much and there was no way to replace what they had lost. It is a great tribute to Maclean’s writing skills that I completely believed the transition of the relationship from hatred/distrust to love. A full array of emotions were engaged throughout the book – sorrow, shame, determination, pragmatism, desire, humor and more. By the end we are left sobbing with a mix of regret and joy. I just loved the matching of Temple and Mara. It is one of the most unlikely pairings I have seen because of their past, yet they are also a perfect match for each other. Revisiting the other owners of the Fallen Angel club greatly enhances the story.

It is clear that I loved many things about No Duke Goes Unpunished. So why didn’t I give it 5 stars? The main reason is that I found the basic premise of the story to be not completely believable. It seemed unlikely that there would be a “Killer Duke” that was a renowned boxer. Why were they so sure there was a murder without a body? Wouldn’t he have been prosecuted? Maybe not, because he was a member of the aristocracy, but surely there would have been some specific consequences. It was difficult for me to believe that Mara would do nothing for twelve years, even when she knew what had happened. Her behavior was a little hard to swallow as well. I understand that she had to be tough, but she was harsh and unyielding most of the time. I also became a little tired of the lengthy flip-flops that Mara made about telling the whole story or accepting his love. No Duke Goes Unpunished is a very good book, very nearly 5 stars, but it just slightly missed the mark. I gladly join the many people who will be anticipating the last and final Scoundrels book about Chase to be released next year. We look forward to a wonderful end to this top-notch series.

**ARC provided by Author**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository |


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