Friday, December 6, 2013

Blog Tour: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean (Review + Giveaway)



I am so very excited to welcome Sarah MacLean to my blog today. She is currently on a blog tour for No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, the latest installment in her The Rules of Scoundrels series.

Sarah's publisher, Avon Books, is giving away a copy of A Rogue By Any Other Name and One Good Earl Deserves A Lover, Book One and Two of the Rules of Scoundrels Series. (Enter via Rafflecopter below.) To follow Sarah's tour and read more features and reviews, click here.

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About the book:


Blurb:

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 appear. It will take every bit of his strength to resist the pull of this mysterious, maddening woman who seems willing to risk everything for honour ... and to keep from putting himself on the line for love.

Excerpt:
Whitefawn Abbey, Devonshire
November 1819

He woke with a splitting head and a hard cock.
            The situation was not uncommon. He had, after all, woken each day for more than half a decade with one of the items in question, and on more mornings than he could count with both. 
            William Harrow, Marquess of Chapin and heir to the dukedom of Lamont was wealthy, titled, privileged and` handsome—and a young man blessed with those traits rarely wanted for anything relating to wine or women. 
            So it was that on this morning, he did not fret. Knowing (as skilled drinkers do) that the splitting head would dissipate by midday, he moved to cure the other affliction and, without opening his eyes, reached for the female no doubt nearby.
            Except, she wasn’t. 
            Instead of a handful of warm, willing flesh, William came up with a handful of unsatisfying pillow. 
            He opened his eyes, the bright light of the Devonshire sun assaulting his senses and emphasizing the thundering in his head. 
He cursed. He draped one forearm over his closed eyes, sunlight burning red behind the lids, and took a deep breath. 
Daylight was the fastest way to ruin a morning. 
            Likely, it was for the best that the woman from the previous evening had disappeared, though the memory of lovely lush breasts, a mane of auburn curls and a mouth made for sin did bring with it a wave of regret. 
            She had been gorgeous.
            And in bed—
            In bed she’d been—
            He stilled. 
He couldn’t remember. 
            Surely he hadn’t had that much drink. Had he? She’d been tall and full of curves, made just the way he liked his women, a match for the height and breadth that was too often his curse when it came to women. He did not like feeling like he might crush a girl. 
And she’d had smile that made him think of innocence and sin all at once. She’d refused to tell him her name . . . refused to hear his . . . 
            Utter perfection. 
            And her eyes—he’d never seen eyes like hers, one the blue of the summer sea, and one just on the edge of green. He’d spent too long looking at those eyes, fascinated by them, wide and welcoming.
            They’d crept through the kitchens and up the servants’ stairs to his room, she’d poured him a scotch . . . 
            And that was all he remembered. 
            Good Lord. He had to stop drinking. 
            Just as soon as today was over. He would need drink to survive his father’s wedding day—the day William gained his fourth stepmother. Younger than all the others. Younger than him. 
            And very very rich.     
            Not that he’d met her, this paragon of brideliness. He’d meet her at the ceremony and not before, just as he’d done the other three. And then, once the familial coffers had been once again filled, he would leave. Back to Oxford, having done his duty and played the role of doting son. Back to the glorious, libidinal life that belonged to the heir to the dukedom, filled with drink and dice and women and not a worry in the world. 
            Back to the life he adored. 
            But tonight, he would honor his father and greet his new mother and pretend that he cared for the sake of propriety. And perhaps, after he was done playing the role of heir, he’d seek out the playful young thing from the gardens and do his best to recall the events of the night before.
            Thank Heaven for country estates and well-attended nuptials. There wasn’t a female in creation who could resist the sexual lure of a wedding, and because of that, William had a great affinity for holy matrimony. 
            How lucky that his father had such a knack for it. 
            He grinned and stretched wide in the bed, throwing one arm wide across the cool linen sheets. 
            Cold linen sheets. 
            Cold wet linen sheets. 
            What in hell? 
            His eyes flew open.
            It was only then that he realized it wasn’t his room. 
            It wasn’t his bed. 
            And the red wash across the bedsheets, dampening his fingers with its sticky residue, was not his blood.
            Before he could speak, or move, or understand, the door to the strange bedchamber opened and a maid appeared, fresh-faced and eager.
            There were a dozen different things that could have gone through his mind at that moment . . . a hundred of them. And yet, in the fleeting seconds between the young maid’s entrance and her notice of him, William thought of only one thing—that he was about to ruin the poor girl’s life. 
            He knew, without doubt, that she would never again casually open a door, or spread sheets across a bed, or bask in the rare, bright sunlight of a Devonshire winter morning without remembering this moment. 
            A moment he could not change.
He did not speak when she noticed him, nor when she froze in place, nor when she went deathly pale and her brown eyes—funny that he noticed their color—went wide with first recognition and then horror.
Nor did he speak when she opened her mouth and screamed. No doubt he would have done the same, had he been in her position.
It was only when she was through with that first, ear-shattering shriek—the one that brought footmen and maids and wedding guests and his father running—that he spoke, taking the quiet moment before the coming storm to ask, “Where am I?”
The maid simply stared, dumbstruck. 
He made to move from the bed, the sheets falling to his waist, stopping short as he realized his clothes were nowhere in sight. 
He was naked. In a bed that was not his own.
And he was covered in blood.
He met the maid’s horrified gaze again, and when he spoke, the words came out young and full of something he would later identify as fear. “Whose bed is this?” 
Remarkably, she found her answer without stuttering. “Miss Lowe.” 
Miss Mara Lowe, daughter of a wealthy financier, with a dowry large enough to catch a duke. 
Miss Mara Lowe, soon-to-be the Duchess of Lamont. 
His future stepmother.

Buy Links
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Good-Duke-Goes-Unpunished-Scoundrels-ebook/dp/B00BEFPSMA/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/no-good-duke-goes-unpunished-sarah-maclean/1114315282?ean=9780062068545

BAM: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/No-Good-Duke-Goes-Unpunished/Sarah-MacLean/9780062068545?id=5752052977508

Indie: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780062068545

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My Review:

The third instalment in Sarah MacLean's The Rule of Scoundrels series features Temple, the Killer Duke and the "muscle" of The Fallen Angel. It is a very strange predicament to find a duke in but this is the life he has chosen to live after the horrific incident he was unwittingly involved in twelve years ago. Except, Mara Lowe didn't die and is now seeking him out as a last recourse for her brother's debt. Her reappearance sends Temple reeling: for twelve years, he believed what he had seen and woken up to; he believed the whispers about it; he believed that he was the darkest, most evil person in existence to not even remember the moment of violence. Mara was the cause of his downfall, and now Mara is the vital key to his restoration.

Having followed this series, and after reading the blurb of this book, I felt that this story would only succeed if the following conditions were met:
1. Mara Lowe must provide a very, very good and very, very convincing reason why she framed Temple twelve years ago.
2. She must provide yet another reason why she didn't come back to clear Temple's name sooner, after she realised what had happened to him.
2. And she must convince the readers (and Temple) that she is worthy of Temple's forgiveness (and ours) and, more importantly, of his love (and ours).

There is no doubt that Temple is the innocent and aggrieved party in this situation and he rightly deserves justice. As it was, I really admired how nobly and quietly Temple bore the burden of his "guilt" all these years. When it was revealed that he never killed Mara, I was so angry and so indignant on his behalf and I felt the gleeful relish of knowing that Mara would get her comeuppance.

But the minute we step into Mara's world, we realise that Mara is a victim of circumstances as well: an abusive father, being so young and forced into a marriage to a much, much older man, and having a younger brother with no direction (and no spine). Mara has tried to make amends in her own way: she runs a house for the bastard children of nobility and she has lived a simple, quiet, uncomplicated life these past twelve years. She would have been content where she was, except that her brother gambled away the money for the boys and she must get it back. The only way was to approach Temple, the man who holds his brother's debts.

It was not pity that I felt for Mara after she revealed her part of the story, but admiration. I admired her bravery: she turned her back on a fortune and a secure position in society and she has made her own way in this perilous world. In that she and Temple suffered similar fates and their lives ran parallel to each other through the lows and highs. It is also a testament to Mara's honour that she only wants the money for the boys and not for herself. She knew that when she stepped back into Temple's life, the chain of events that was interrupted all those years ago would restart and she would be going down a path of no return. And, amazingly, she knew what sacrifice she had to make and was ready to make it.

Sarah MacLean more than hints that there was a spark of attraction between Mara and Temple in the past and I wondered what how differently things had been:
- What if Mara married Temple's father? or
- What if Mara chose a different man to frame that fateful night? or
- What if Mara was free to choose Temple in the first place?

There are so many alternative scenarios and I think it is part of what makes this story such an emotional experience: the idea of what might have been.

My heart ached for Temple as he looked at Mara and her life with the boys, and I could feel his yearning for all the things he lost: the chance at a "normal" life, with a wife and a family -- but we cannot fix the past, only the present and Temple quickly learns that the revenge he has dreamt of all these years, that this moment he has dreamt of all these years wouldn't come easily or swiftly -- and that it would end up costing him more. And Temple must ask himself if that life he has been aspiring for, the birthright he has hoped to regain is worth giving up the life that he has now. Temple's "triumph" is a misnomer because it would mean that he would be losing more. He would be losing Mara again.

Temple also challenges a stereotype: as the "muscle" we think that Temple's value is in his physicality and size. (MacLean portrays this objectivization of Temple in chapter 10 during a fight.) What people seem to forget is that the heart is also a muscle, perhaps the most vital part of the human body -- and Temple's heart is as big and as indomitable as he is.

"If you treat me like a whore, you pay me like one." - loc 1153 Mara and Temple are very candid about the price of their relationship: reduced to pounds and shillings. When money is involved, one thinks of business transactions, as though the act of bargaining, paying, commodifying this thing between them will reduce the hurt somehow. "Nothing personal, it's just business." But, between Mara and Tempest, when they talk money, it is more than just an accounting of services rendered --

She hadn't come for him as a man. She'd come for him as a means to an end. Just as they always did.
- loc 367

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"I would pay you for the truth," he said, and even as they came gentle, like a caress, they stung, harsh and unpleasant. This was the game they played.

She shook her head. "It's not for sale."
- loc 2185

* * *

He nodded to his hand. "How much to wrap it for me?"

She watched the movement. "Twenty pounds."

He shook his head. "Try again."

"Five."

He wanted her close, despite the fact that he shouldn't want any such thing. And he could afford it. "Done."
- loc 3195

Stunning and cinematic are the two words that came to mind as I was reading Sarah MacLean's No Good Duke Goes Unpunished. She writes Temple and Mara's story with such intense emotion that you can't help but be drawn in. While I began this story firmly on Temple's side, I noticed that MacLean never makes it an either-or situation, where she pits her hero against the heroine. In every scene, we see both sides of the story and we see two characters who desperately want the same thing: a happy ending.

MacLean's scenes have a movie quality to them: at once full of tension and high drama and her narration, especially of Temple's fights in the ring are breathtakingly vivid.

At the beginning of this review, I laid out three conditions for this story to succeed. Did Mara meet them? For me? Yes. This brilliant book is a high point in my list of books read in 2013 -- what is more mind-blowing is that, she hints at Chase's story and you know that readers and fans are in for another great read in 2014. I'm definitely excited. ^_^

Disclosure: I received this book via Edelweiss as part of the book tour. Thank you to Tasty Book Tours, Avon and to Sarah MacLean for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.

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About the author:


Sarah MacLean grew up in Rhode Island, obsessed with historical romance and bemoaning the fact that she was born far too late for her own season. Her love of all things historical helped to earn her degrees from Smith College and Harvard University before she finally set pen to paper and wrote her first book.

Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband, their dog, and a ridiculously large collection of romance novels. She loves to hear from readers. Please visit her at www.macleanspace.com




Author Links
http://macleanspace.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sarahmaclean
https://twitter.com/sarahmaclean

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Sarah's publisher, Avon Books, is giving away a copy of A Rogue By Any Other Name and One Good Earl Deserves A Lover, Book One and Two of the Rules of Scoundrels Series. (Enter via Rafflecopter below.) To follow Sarah's tour and read more features and reviews, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

9 comments:

kipha said...

Awesome review! Very Thorough.

Tin said...

Thank you, Ki! ^_^

Mary Chen said...

Fantastic review, Tin! :) I especially love the part of you mentioning that Temple's heart is also a way of his muscular strength . ^_^

Tin said...

@Mary -- that was my best insight -- and it came in the middle of the night so I had to wake up and write it down. ^_^

Tasty Book Tours said...

Thank you for hosting and the FABULOUS Review! You have a way with words!

Connie said...

This really sounds like a great book. I’m intrigued by the plot because it’s quite different from the ones we usually read. Love it and your review as well.

BookLady said...

What a fascinating book! Great excerpt and review. Thanks for sharing.

Tin said...

Hi, Lisa! As always, thank you for the opportunity!

Hi, Connie! If you've been following this series, this book is a must-read!

Hi, Booklady! Thank you for your comment!

thegirlmeetsbooks said...

I'm actually waiting for my copy to arrive so I skipped the review part. But I'll definitely read it after I've finished the book. :)

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