RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean

B-

Title: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished
Author: Sarah MacLean
Publication Info: Avon November 2013
ISBN: 978-0062068545
Genre: Historical: European

Book No Good Duke Goes Unpunished. So much green on this cover. This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Romantic Librarian. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Historical Romance category.

The summary:

A rogue ruined . . .

He is the Killer Duke, accused of murdering Mara Lowe on the eve of her wedding. With no memory of that fateful night, Temple has reigned over the darkest of London’s corners for twelve years, wealthy and powerful, but beyond redemption. Until one night, Mara resurfaces, offering the one thing he’s dreamed of . . . absolution.

A lady returned . . .

Mara planned never to return to the world from which she’d run, but when her brother falls deep into debt at Temple’s exclusive casino, she has no choice but to offer Temple a trade that ends in her returning to society and proving to the world what only she knows . . . that he is no killer.

A scandal revealed . . .

It’s a fine trade, until Temple realizes that the lady—and her past—are more than they seem. It will take every bit of his strength to resist the pull of this mysterious, maddening woman who seems willing to risk everything for honor . . . and to keep from putting himself on the line for love.

And here is Romantic Librarian's review:

Twelve years ago The Duke of Lamont was accused of killing his father’s young fiancée on the eve of their wedding, after he awoke with blood covering his bed and no Mara Lowe to vouch for him. The truth is that she ran to avoid marriage to a much older man who wanted her especially for her father’s money. Now, her brother is in deep financial trouble, and she needs the man now known as the Killer Duke.

Temple now boxes people who run up too big a tab in his club. If they beat him, they can clear their tab. No one has. When the brother of the woman he supposedly murdered is due for his ring, he knows he can’t fight him.

Mara goes to his house to strike a deal. She’ll go public and clear the Duke’s reputation in exchange for those funds back. She is hoping to establish an orphanage that is complete with fun children, a loyal and wry assistant, and even a pet pig.

Temple can’t believe his salvation has dropped into his lap, but he can’t help wondering about the woman he is still so attracted to. He believes they were lovers the night she disappeared, and Mara lets him think that.

Temple is ready to fight his way back into society. Mara is ready to fight for the kids in her orphanage. It turns out, she also has to fight Temple – literally, in his ring, to do it. They also fight quite a bit with their own passions in some smoldering scenes. As they learn more, they realize their lives are incomplete without each other.

While this feisty romance has plenty of MacLean’s trademark wry humor and strong heroine traits, this is not her strongest book.  The scenario is unique and the second chance theme is appealing, but the hero and heroine meet up too soon to set up their deal, making the rest of the book have less impact. Temple has his friends to stick up for him, from the first two books in the Rule of Scoundrel series, but despite all that has been done to him, it takes a while for him to become a truly likeable character. But perhaps that is the point, that he has come to believe he is no good after years of being ostracized.

Readers will begin by disliking Mara for what she did to Temple, leaving him with the fallout of her disappearance and bloody bed. Mara admits later that she went too far with the pig’s blood and the set up, which makes her a bit untrustworthy for readers. It is funny that she drugs Temple again after they meet again after that fateful night, but it does not add to her appeal as a heroine.

The pig, Lavender, is a quirky addition along with the motley orphanage cast, but they don't quite hit the mark other than to give Mara a good cause and some positive traits. Having her fight Temple in the boxing ring was predictable (though with surprises in the actual ring), but really enjoyable reading in the same way Callie’s fencing in MacLean’s debut Nine Rules to Break… offered readers a surprise and a view of a Regency lady in a very different role.

So though it takes a while to grow on these two romantic leads, MacLean writes a good character arc, and their chemistry and interactions grow to a believable love story and happy ending. As usual she provides plenty of enjoyable, sensual, sexy stops on their way to declaring their love.

A darker line to the plot or more suspense other than her brother’s growing desperation may have added more to keep the plot going, but MacLean’s talent overcomes these lacks for a fun read.


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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    donna marie says:

    I agree, this was not the strongest book in the series. I’ve always enjoyed Temple as a character, but I really found it hard to get past the fact that Mara left him hanging out in the wind for twelve YEARS. There aren’t enough plot moppets and pet pigs in the world to make that okay. I will say that I am waiting with bated breath for the next one due to … no spoilers, no spoilers, no spoilers…. BATED BREATH!!

  2. 2
    HollyS says:

    I’m glad that someone else recognizes the serious flaws in this book. The second time she drugged him was enough for me to toss it into my DNF pile (actually this book started the pile and it is the only member since I never pay for a book I don’t finish).

    Completely unlikeable heroine closely followed by a not so swoon worthy hero. Blech.

    Sarah Maclean used to be an auto buy for me but after her last two books you would have to pay ME to buy her books.

  3. 3
    Sarita says:

    I hear the warnings, but I am intrigued. And I’m enough of a n00b that making her fight him still sounds like an unexpected twist to me. I may try it out.

  4. 4
    Jace says:

    @HollyS:

    Sarah Maclean used to be an auto buy for me but after her last two books you would have to pay ME to buy her books.

    I thought I was the only one who also hated this one and the previous one. DNF both of them.

  5. 5
    Elinor Aspen says:

    This was my least-favorite Sarah Maclean book by far. I finished it mostly out of morbid curiosity. I am intrigued enough by the next book to look forward to reading it, however. I really hope it redeems the series for me.

  6. 6
    Maite says:

    Sarah MacLean’s books are all over the place to me.

    With the Love By Numbers series, I went from “Where have you been all my life?” for “Nine”, “Nice, but no Nine” for “Ten”, to “I see a a couple spoiled children who mistake lust for love and think they know better. The text says they are passionate smart people in love.” for “Eleven”.

    With Scoundrels, I liked the first, really liked the second, but it seems I’ll have the exact same problems I had with Eleven. I’ll wait until the next one comes out.

  7. 7
    Dora says:

    To my mind, the actual plot and the central characters are an interesting challenge. Often, in romance, when the hero/ine feels irredeemably guilty for something they did to the hero/ine, the offence feels a bit piffling, realistically considered. Not so here. Mara has well and truly screwed Temple over. It would be fun to watch them work their way out of THAT one. Only MacLean isn’t the writer to pull it off. At times, character development is so contradictory as to become incoherent; and I don’t mean in the larger sense of How-can-he-fall-for-the-beeyatch? but in smaller ways. Big feelings, purple prose in one scene, and five pages later s/he idly wonders whether s/he is falling for his/her nemesis. You were all over him a few pages ago! Have you forgotten that already??
    And the writing style. Beyond annoying. To make this one good, MacLean would have had to rewrite about a quarter of the book and turn explication by the narrator into ACTION. DIALOGUE. At times I thought MacLean thinks her readers too stupid to get the characters’ development unless they have it explained to them over and over and over. As if we only ever read ten pages at a time and needed reminding the next time who these characters were and what their backstory is. Jeez. Get the f*** on with it!
    Not sure I’ll try any other novels by her, because even if the Mara-Temple set-up is specific to this one, the writing style presumably isn’t. Pity, because there’s good stuff there.

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