Review: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished

Review: No Good Duke Goes UnpunishedNo Good Duke Goes Unpunished (The Rules of Scoundrels, #3) by Sarah MacLean
Series: The Rules of Scoundrels #3
Published by Avon on November 26, 2013
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED is the third book in Sarah MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series. It is the story of Temple, known as the Killer Duke, one of the four partners in the Fallen Angels gaming hell. As with all of The Rules of Scoundrels series, the story begins with Temple’s “fall” from grace. Temple’s fall occurred twelve years ago when he awoke in the bed of his future stepmother covered in blood. Temple does not know what happened. While no body is found, but Mara Lowe has disappeared so Temple is believed guilty – even by Temple.

Mara Lowe is not dead. She was 16 when she was to marry Temple’s father (she was to be Temple’s fourth stepmother). Twelve years later, she returns because her younger brother, Christopher Lowe, has gotten into debt at the partners gaming hell and she wishes to save him and recover her money that Christopher has lost.

The first scene between Mara and Temple is really great. It isn’t a spoiler to state that Temple is a bit annoyed to discover that Mara is alive. The scenes throughout the book between the two are fantastic. Mara is a fighter and certainly a match for the boxer extraordinaire Temple. This book is a bit more plot heavy than the other books of the series and the two characters struggle against one another more. It is more of a prize fight and the reader experiences round after round of action between Temple and Mara. Without giving too much way, the two have some incredible battles in Temple’s boxing ring at the Fallen Angel!

NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED is a dark and emotionally intense novel. Temple and Mara have a long way to go to get their HEA. Temple, a character who has accepted his fate, is now consumed with rage and a lust for vengeance. However, that desire is not natural for Temple who struggles with his desire to redeem himself and his desire for Mara.

I have enjoyed all of MacLean’s novels. She is now one of my favorite writers. I find that her books are filled with incredible, individual characters. They are memorable and no two of her books are the same. I also really enjoy The Rules of Scoundrels in particular because her books are dark and filled with tension. When the HEA finally happens, I feel that I have traveled alongside the characters and rejoice with them.

NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED is the darkest novel in the series because both characters are deeply hurt by their past. In the previous two books in the series, the heroine provided the light in the story. Here, Mara is the catalyst for the darkness in Temple’s life so their romance is much more complicated. In fact, Temple is the victim here and Mara is the one who feel unworthy. She has harmed Temple immensely in the past and continues to harm him throughout the novel. It is Temple who ultimately gives his forgiveness and acceptance to Mara.

To me this book isn’t quite as good as ONE GOOD EARL DESERVERS A LOVER (the second book of the series) but that book is one of my all time favorite novels. That being said, NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED is at least as good as A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME and in some ways I like this more because the characters are now familiar to me. I loved the interaction with all the Scoundrels and their wives. This is the first book of the series where we really get to see all the characters together and the crisis which brings all our characters into the same room was emotional and heartbreaking. These Scoundrels are not only partners but are also a family.

Finally, I give a WOW, WOW, WOW for the Epilogue. This is one book that you want to read without spoilers for the Epilogue. MacLean reveals a big secret about Chase, whose book is the next in the series. My mouth dropped when I read the reveal and I had to read it twice to believe what I was reading. I think that the Reader who does not peek at the ending will get a really great surprise and I can’t wait for Chase’s book.

NO GOOD DUKE DOES UNPUNISHED continues a fantastic series by Sarah MacLean. A reader doesn’t have to read the other books of the series before reading this one, but honestly, this book is more enjoyable if you have already encountered Temple. Start with A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME and then continue with ONE GOOD EARL DESERVES A LOVER (my favorite of the series) before reading this book. Temple is important in both those novels and a reader will have a better idea of his relationship with the other Scoundrels and their wives.

I give this book a 5 plus stars! I only give this rating to books that I love the first time I read them but that are also ones that I will re-read. I’ve already read this one three times and I expect that I will read it again and again.


Review: One Good Earl Deserves a Lover

Review: One Good Earl Deserves a LoverOne Good Earl Deserves a Lover (The Rules of Scoundrels, #2) by Sarah MacLean
Series: The Rules of Scoundrels #2
Published by Avon on January 29, 2013
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

ONE GOOD EARL DESERVES A LOVER is the second book of Sarah MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series.

I will make a confession before I begin the review of ONE GOOD EARL DESERVES A LOVER. I read this book for the first time four months ago and I’ve read it at least 6 times since then. It is already one of my favorite romance books of all time. The book makes me laugh and makes me cry. I absolutely love the characters and while I understand the complaints that some have about the plot or the motivations of the characters, I don’t agree.

To me the romance between Lady Philippa (Pippa) Marbury and Jasper Arlesey, Earl Harlow aka Cross is magnificent. I love how Cross is just baffled by Pippa. She is a unique character and he is enthralled and bemused by her. Their first meeting, Pippa arrives at Cross’ office while he is asleep and she proceeds to inspect his books and criticize his calculations is so amusing. Pippa is “odd” and Cross is simultaneously fascinated and horrified by her.

Cross is a wonderfully tortured hero. He is a man who was a second son who was happy living dissipated life; a young man who did not take anything seriously. He is tortured because his older responsible brother is killed in a carriage accident while traveling to an event that Cross at first promised and then reneged on attending. Cross then gains his brother’s title. Cross, however, believes that he should have died instead of his brother and thus refuses to take up that life because he does not feel worthy of it.

Pippa is amazing. She is clever and strong and quirky. She is a scientist and looks at the world in a curious manner. She is engaged to marry an earl (who is nice enough but no match for Pippa’s intellect) because she is settling because she believes that no one could really want her because of her odd nature.

I love this book. The dialogue is the best part. The conversations are so fascinating that I could just continue to read them again and again. Cross and Pippa are both intellectuals and they discuss things in such an unusual manner. I am both fascinated and amused by their conversations. I especially like the fact that Cross is so bemused in Pippa’s presence. He is a man who has denied his passions and yet has such incredible passion inside him.

MacLean always has such vivid characters, but I find Pippa and Cross to be incredible examples of her expertise. They are unusual people and I understand their motivations because MacLean does such a great job of bringing the reader into their minds. I know that Cross’ actions are the subject of some confusion and criticism by some readers. I feel, however, that Cross has made a life for himself of denying himself. He refuses to be happy because he feels unworthy. Eventually, he concludes that he is not worthy but that he is enough of a scoundrel to take what he wants anyway. Thus, the HEA. It doesn’t bother me when characters make swift changes in decisions because I find that realistic in that Cross is so used to denying himself happiness that he does so by habit until he is shaken from his routine.

I also really enjoy all the secondary characters. Chase and Temple have important roles in the story and I enjoy the interaction between the partners. My only small complaint is that Penelope and Bourne only have a small role here. I would have liked to have seen what their reaction to Pippa and Cross was, and I missed that payoff.

While you don’t have to read A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME first, the story certainly gains from having the background from that story – plus, any reader of ONE GOOD EARL DESERVES A LOVER must read the Epilogue of A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME where Pippa and Cross meet. While their meeting is summarized in the first chapter of this book, the Epilogue is so amazing that for me I always read that before I start to read ONE GOOD EARL DESERVES A LOVER.

I recommend this book highly!


Review: A Rogue by Any Other Name

Review: A Rogue by Any Other NameA Rogue by Any Other Name (The Rules of Scoundrels, #1) by Sarah MacLean
Series: The Rules of Scoundrels #1
Published by Avon on February 28, 2012
Genres: Historical
Pages: 386

A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME is the first book of Sarah MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series. The four books of the series tell the stories of four partner who have been exiled from society. The four are partners in a fabulous gaming hell known as the Fallen Angel.

Each book begins with the story of the fall from grace of each of the partners. In A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME, we learn the story of Michael Lawler, Marquess of Bourne, who was orphaned at the age of 16. At the age of 21, he lost everything on a turn of the cards at vingt et un. Exiled from society, he has built a new life for himself as the games manager at the Fallen Angel.

The heroine of the story is Lady Penelope Marbury, who was the ex-fiancé of the Duke of Leighton from ELEVEN SCANDALS TO START TO WIN A DUKE’S HEART. Penelope has spent the eight years since her broken engagement searching for the kind of love that the Duke found in that book. She and Michael were friends when they were growing up, but she hasn’t seen him in 16 years.

“[T]hey’d been friends once. Long ago, before he’d become handsome as the devil and twice as cold.”

The two meet again because Penelope’s father has acquired a portion of Bourne’s family estate and Bourne wants it. He compromises her and forces their marriage.

This book is much darker than MacLean’s previous Love By Numbers Series. Bourne is a dark, cold man when the book begins. He doesn’t try to disguise his motives but rather takes what he wants. What he wants is his land and revenge on the man who took everything from him. Bourne is obsessed with revenge and doesn’t really care who gets hurt in the process. I confess that I like dark, sexy, tortured heroes. Bourne is definitely of the dark and tortured variety and he is a jerk a lot in this book. I like that though because I love that he is redeemed by his love for Penelope.

Penelope has grown and changed in the eight years since ELEVEN SCANDALS TO START TO WIN A DUKE’S HEART. I found it very interesting that it was the love story in that book that changed Penelope. It made her dissatisfied with the unemotional life that she had expected to live. It made her want love. I also really liked how strong Penelope is. Bourne tries to intimidate her and yet she refused to yield. Even when she cannot win against him, she is strong and makes the best deal she can.

I also really like that it is Penelope that is the heroine in the story. She is the one who takes the actions to help Bourne. She is the instigator of much of the movement in their relationship. She is the powerful one.

The secondary characters are strong and pull at the reader to know what their stories are. I also really enjoy that MacLean uses secondary characters from her other novels. It is always a nice surprise for a small character to make an appearance. The book also leaves small questions about the other partners in the series which makes me want to read the next book.

And speaking of the next book….This book has a fantastic epilogue that is really a prologue for ONE GOOD EARL DESERVES A LOVER.