Hey, are you ready for a dark, brooding, angst-filled hero? It is the end of the holiday season after all. Or maybe you’re in the mood for a heroine who can ruin people’s lives? Well, this book is for you! This is not a happy happy book. This is a gloomy book… bring on the chocolate! After I put this book down, I felt drained, and that makes it hard to recommend, but I do. The author has delved deeply into her characters’ psyches — we get to see what makes them tick. We may not like them, but they are there in all their imperfections.
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished is the third in The Rules of Scoundrels series by Sarah MacLean, and while it’s not my favorite in the series, it is interesting for the harshness it reveals to the reader. We have Temple, a big big guy. He is also a ruined aristocrat, accused of murdering a woman years and years ago. In fact, he’s accused of murdering his father’s fiancée. He is a pariah, shunned by society, wandering through the shadows of London until he was rescued and found refuge in a gambling establishment called The Fallen Angel. For 12 years he made a fortune in this establishment by boxing. Recently, he was bothered by a young man by the name of Christopher Lowe, the brother of the woman he is accused of murdering. Christopher was buzzing around him like a gnat and challenged him to a boxing match! You see, Christopher is a fool. He’s lost all of his money and his dead sister’s money as well. But wait a minute — is she really dead?
Ummm. Spoilers ahead! It seems that 12 years ago a 16-year-old Mara Lowe concocted a plan to save her from getting married to a horrible man three times her age. She thought if she made it appear that she was no longer pure, he wouldn’t want to marry her. So, she drugged an unsuspecting and really nice guy, Temple, aka William, son of the horrible man. Who knew that she didn’t know anything about the amount of drugs one uses to knock someone out? Then she was going to put some virgin blood in the bed and vanish. Who knew that there was way too much pig’s blood and that Temple/William would still be in the bed looking like he was auditioning for the part of the producer in Godfather with the horse’s head in his bed? Blood was all over, all over the bed, all over him, and he had no memory of what had transpired. What was everyone to think when they discovered an incoherent man covered in blood and a missing heiress? Why, that he murdered her! But, they really can’t do anything but shun him, because he’s an aristocrat. Anyway, life as he knew it was ruined. And, poor little Mara did not know, at least at that time, what havoc she created. Of course, later she finds out that everyone thinks she’s dead, but hey… what’s a girl to do?
Time passes, he fights, she takes in orphans and hides, her brother gambles. Her brother loses all of her money, tries to fight Temple, Temple refuses — oh no, Mara must save her brother! What does she do? She puts in an appearance to Temple. To say that Temple is a little peeved is an understatement. He wants revenge. He doesn’t care what kind, just revenge. He’s so angry, he sees red, doesn’t agree to her plan, so she drugs him and takes off again but leaves her address so he can find her. She has another plan. Maybe he will have calmed down by the time he wakes up again. Thus begins the story, filled with distrust, lies, secrets, half-truths, and two people falling in love in spite of everything.
I’m not sure I liked this book. I know I found both of the main characters strangely hypnotic in their awfulness. I had to finish it to see how this hate/love thing was going to end. I found myself getting irritated with both of the characters: Temple because of his revenge, revenge, revenge; and Mara, because she just couldn’t tell Temple the whole truth. I was also occasionally bothered by the way the author had them answering their own questions or finishing a sentence in their heads. The truth was there for the readers because we were made privy to the unfinished sentence, but the characters were not. I found myself getting disgusted that I knew the truth but these two fools just keep dancing around each other.
In the end, these two characters agitated me and when I put the book down I didn’t have one of those peaceful sighs. I think this is a strong book and if you are a fan of Sarah MacLean and this series you really need to read Temple’s story. Just be prepared, because this is not an easy read.