RITA Reader Challenge Review

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

A

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 Jessica M. 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 Jessica M.'s review:

Temple is heir to the Dukedom of Lamont or, rather, was. He stood to inherit everything until the night it all changed. Now known as the Killer Duke, Temple is the third member of The Fallen Angel.

This is the third book in the series, each book could be read as a stand-alone, but I would follow the reading order as these characters play a role in each book. This is another BIG hit for Sarah MacLean. I should preface this review by letting you know I am a HUGE fan of hers. Her writing, as always, is impeccable. The timing with plot points had me on the edge of my seat.

What is this book about? Well, Mara Lowe was set to marry the Duke of Lamont. She mysteriously goes missing after a night with William, Marquess of Chapin (AKA Temple). Temple awakens in a bed filled with blood and she is not seen again. Because of the disappearance Temple is thrown out by his father; he later finds allies in Bourne and Chase. Together with Cross, they are the founders of The Fallen Angel, a notorious gaming hall.

The prosperous gaming hall has been the only home he’s known for the past twelve years. He is now the Angel’s prominent fighter and has never been taken down. In the past twelve years, the only place where Temple has found peace has been in the ring. The gamblers of the Angel that have lost their bets have the chance of gaining back all they have lost. They must win a round with Temple in the ring and their losses will be returned.

Everything changes when Christopher Lowe loses everything in the Angel. Christopher Lowe is Mara’s brother and has gambled away her money as well as his. Mara has been in hiding as the owner of an orphanage. She finds Temple and reveals herself in order to gain back the money for the orphanage and to absolve her brother’s debts. What ensues is a whirlwind of drama, angst, more betting, and more fighting.

Temple is a character with many conflicting emotions. He is drawn to Mara and tries to fight it. The ultimate scoundrel, he’s lived on the fringes of society as the “Killer Duke” because of Mara. Temple really shines throughout this story in his dual roles as both victim and villain. I was always rooting for Temple as he is misunderstood. Mara, however, took quite a lot of chapters for me to accept as the heroine and to like.

Mara ruins Temple’s life. No ifs, ands, or buts. MacLean does an excellent job of depicting her as a villain with vulnerabilities. I hated Mara and then I loved her. She stands for what she wants; she’s headstrong but a good person to have on your side. She doesn’t care whom she bulldozes over in order to get what she wants. But, with age comes wisdom and Mara has had to live with twelve years of guilt while raising the illegitimate children of royalty that have been left behind. The burden she’s been carrying is heavy and she is relieved and also scared about the consequences. Everything she does is for a reason: she may be pigheaded, but she truly believes in all her causes. The character development is beautifully done.

“I thought that it would wipe the slate clean. That you could once again be the Duke of Lamont, and I could fade away — and never bother you again. But I couldn’t do it.” She shook her head. “I wanted you too much.”

This unlikely pair has explosive chemistry. Their constant bickering and negotiating is a sort of foreplay. Both are trying to deny their connection because of their very rocky start, however, they are fighting a losing battle. Throughout all of their banter, there is an underlying sexual tension. To the point that even when Temple puts gloves on Mara it drips with sensuality.

He pressed a kiss to the soft pad of muscle at the base of her thumb before he fastened the buttons and made his way to her wrist, where he pressed another soft kiss, and fastened more.

And so it went, on and on, up the inside of her arm with light delicate kisses, each sending a shock of heat through her, each locked in by silk, by him. Each one a ruination of its own, as it made her want to crawl into his lap and do his bidding without question.

Woven through the background of a gaming hall, underground fighting bouts, and the bloodthirsty ton, this is a tale of second chances and growth. I give this story an A. I was consumed by it for days. I needed to solve the mystery surrounding the Killer Duke and I wasn’t disappointed.

The ending . . . my jaw dropped. I’ve gone back and reread the books to find clues leading to this and they’re hidden in plain view. IT’S AMAZING! The subtle hints throughout all the books are another leading example of MacLean’s superb writing.


This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | All Romance eBooks

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    tealadytoo says:

    Well, dang! There goes my book budget!  Sounds irresistible, but of course I’ll have to read the earlier two books first . . .

  2. 2
    Paula Graves says:

    No Good Duke Goes Unpunished was my first Sarah McLean book. I immediately hunted down all the rest. Great story.

  3. 3
    denise says:

    I love everything she writes and cannot wait for the next, and it will be amazing!

  4. 4
    Jace says:

    DNF this book. I found the heroine stupid, the hero an idiot, and the prose atrocious.

  5. 5
    Shannon says:

    I’m not sure where to put this comment.  The B- review or this A review.  MacLean is a wonderful writer who creates memorable characters, including Temple and Mara.  I really liked Temple and admired how he acknowledge the past.  I wanted him to get a break, a second chance.  While I was prepared to like Mara because she was young and stupid, I just couldn’t get past her drugging Temple.  It’s not quite “why don’t you talk things out” problem.  It made me think that Mara hadn’t grown up.  I basically wanted Temple to humiliate her and make her feel even more the outcast that she should be since she hadn’t grown up.  The world was still about her.  She is a “me” person.  I just cannot believe that she became able to love and give.

  6. 6
    mel burns says:

    For me this book represents what is wrong in romance. Mara is a horrible heroine, she’s a criminal and she ruined a good man’s life. I hated this book. Drugging is not okay.
    MacLean has written some wonderful romances, but this one was atrocious.

  7. 7
    HollyS says:

    Right there with you Jace and Mel Burns. Hated this book too.

  8. 8
    Kim says:

    I didn’t care for it either. Mara was too selfish & unlikeable.

  9. 9
    Cordy says:

    I loathed this book. I find MacLean’s prose to be not my style (too fluffy, too anachronistic, heroines are too cutesy/annoying) but that’s fine – it was more that I just couldn’t cope with the fact that the book says that the heroine drugged the hero and framed him for murder, but then doesn’t treat that idea seriously. It doesn’t have the characters behave as people might in such a situation. I have a really hard time in romance novels when a character does something that would, in real people, be very traumatic or unforgivable, etc., and then the characters act like robots who’ve been programmed to be fine about something no one would be fine about, because that’s what the light-hearted plot now requires.

    I just read “Nobody’s Baby But Mine” (Susan Elizabeth Phillips) and I was really cautious going into it, because the premise is that the heroine basically scams the hero out of his sperm so she can have a baby. I find that that kind of thing, in romance novels, is often treated the way this book treats the framing for murder: cute quirky bicker fodder! They’re going to argue sexily! So I was relieved when the book actually took it pretty seriously, and has the hero be super angry at her for a long time, and not sexy-angry, betrayed-angry.

    I didn’t feel that way about this book. I thought it took a very serious idea (literally ruining an innocent man’s life) and treated it like it was “wacky”. Mara would have needed to undergo a spiritual transformation or something before I could have forgiven her or believed that the duke dude could forgive her, and nothing like that happened. Like @melburns, I had “this is what is wrong with romance novels!” feels about the whole thing.

  10. 10

    I love this Author, but continue to avoid this book based on the reviews. She made a mistake with this one. Love my SBTB web site.

  11. 11
    Dibs says:

    I just finished No Good Duke Goes Unpunished. 

    When Mara first reveals who she is, Temple is one shocked, angry dude – one shocked, angry, large, very muscular man named The Killer Duke who beats men up for a living and who has a reputation for never losing a fight.  She had a knife and laudanum with her when she approached Temple.  He took her knife and tells her,

        “You might as well sit.  You’re not going anywhere.”

        Unease threaded through her at the words.  “What does that mean?”

        “It means that you turned up outside my door, Miss Lowe.  And I have no intention of letting you escape again.”

    I totally understand Mara feeling threatened by that statement.  She uses the only weapon she has and doses Temple with laudanum,  leaving him a note that says, “I had hoped it would not come to this, but I will not be intimidated, and I will not be strong-armed.” I wonder what else she was supposed to do when Temple threatened to keep her against her will.

    Mara’s a very literal woman – that’s simply how she understands the world and it’s a common enough character in fiction.  Early on Temple tells Mara, “Nothing you could say will make me forgive.”  It makes so much sense that Mara believes him, she takes him at his word, and doesn’t even try to tell him what her motivations are/were.

    Mara’s father was abusive, beating her and her brother for infractions.  If that were my childhood, I suspect I’d be very slow to trust – as Mara is slow to trust Temple. 
    Yes, this is one of those, “If they’d only talk to each other, this mess would be cleared up” stories.  But I found the reasons for not talking understandable – frustrating, yes, but understandable. 

    Like others, I couldn’t put this book down.  I thought the characters were believable, the plot riveting, the setting unique.  Like Elyse I found the end over-worked.  Overall: very enjoyable.

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