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No Good Duke Goes Unpunished: The Third Rule of Scoundrels (Rules of Scoundrels Book 3) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 405 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Twelve years later, William Harrow has lost his name along with all of the trappings of his aristocratic youth. He is a partner in The Fallen Angel, London's most notorious gaming hell, and every night he takes to the boxing ring in the club's basement to give indebted patrons a chance to win back their debt by defeating him in a fight. That never happens: he is undefeated. He has inherited the duchy, but he has no servants (no one wants to sleep in his house), no lovers (except those he pays), no society (well, no good society, though he has very loyal friends). Society calls him the Killer Duke; he calls himself Temple.
And then Mara Lowe, the girl he supposedly killed, shows up at his doorstep in the dead of night. Her profligate brother has bankrupted himself and Mara as well, gambling away their savings and leaving Mara desperate enough to offer to restore to Temple all he has lost: his reputation, his birthright. She will come out of hiding and tell the true story of what happened that night twelve years before, if Temple will forgive the debt.
Mara and Temple are both sensitive and likeable characters, which is a surprise given the story's premise. Temple's whole life is violence and pain, and yet even in the midst of his fury and desire for retribution, he is gentle. Mara could so easily have been the villain of the story -- after all, what she did to Temple is almost unforgiveable -- and yet early on, the reader empathizes with her and roots for her absolution.
Temple should -- and does -- hate her, but he is also drawn to her, because she is the only person who has always believed his innocence. She is the only person who has never been afraid of him, in a world where everyone fears him. She is the only person who uses his real name, and who calls him by his title without the appellation "Killer."
Mara is drawn to him as well, but she knows that he will never really get his life back as long as she is part of it: gossip will continue to plague his reputation unless she disappears again, but starting over a second time may take more than she has in her.
In old school romances, the hero was often, forgive me, a prick. Brooding, arrogant, and high-handed, the heroine would nevertheless be attracted to him and somehow redeem him. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished has an unsympathetic lead, but it is the heroine. Mara made decisions with horrible repercussions as a child, which is forgivable, but by continuing not to come forward for over a decade, she made adult choices that continued the fallout. She was hard to like even when MacLean surrounded her with a gaggle of plot moppets and a pet pig. (Oy vey.) But enough about Mara, what about the old school redemptive heroine Temple? Oh, he’s a big lug. A big, delicious, magnificent, FORGIVING lug. Temple experiences more negative backlash from Mara’s actions than even she does, but, it must be noted, he also gained a kind of freedom he would never have had in the role that was his so-called birthright. Against the advice of literally almost everyone else in the story, they find their way to each other.
I love that Mara was never torn as to where her loyalties were after she "chose" William and she was not stuck on the feelings that she "created" Kit. He (Kit, her brother) turned out selfish and childish when he should have been the opposite for his sister at least. This was an easy read with flowing dialogue and a well crafted plot. Read and make you happy.
Fast forward 12 years, and William changed his name to Temple, and was the part owner of the Angel, a gambling den. Mara Lowe returns and Temple will exact his revenge. Good premise for the story making this book good.