Series: The Rules of Scoundrels #3
Published by Avon on November 26, 2013
Source: Advance Reader Copy, Avon Addicts
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.
“He woke with a splitting head and a hard cock.”
18 year old William Harrow, Marquess of Chapin, heir to the Duke of Lamont, woke up with a headache, no memory of the night before, and an empty bed covered in blood. His father’s bride-to-be was missing, and he was found in her bed. Alone. Covered in blood.
12 years later, he is no longer that boy, he is Temple. He is one of the 4 owners of the Angel gaming club, and wealthy as can be. He may be known as the Killer Duke, but no one calls him Your Grace. Not until one night, when a woman follows him home. and she turns his world upside down.
Mara Lowe didn’t mean to fake her own death, nor did she mean for the young handsome man she’d met before her wedding get caught in the middle of her scheme. 16 year old Mara was frightened of the man she was to marry, and wanted it to look like she’d been ruined the night before and run off. But she used too much blood and too much laudanum. Temple was blamed for her murder. Too scared and too young to come out and tell everyone she was alive (she was still betrothed to his father after all), she hid, placating herself that since Temple was a duke, he’d be fine. Everyone loves a duke after all.
But 12 years later, her brother has gambled away his fortune and her money as well, so Mara comes to Temple hoping he’ll take her trade. Forgive her brother’s debt, and she’ll give him the one thing money can’t buy-absolution.
So she challenges him. She keeps her one bargaining chip just dangling out of reach-information. She doesn’t know he can’t remember that night, and when she does find out, she uses it.
Mara has been running an orphanage under an assumed name. Her brother gambled away her small amount of money for the boys, and she uses tidbits of information to keep Temple interested. She wants money for each thing she tells him, for each interaction, so she can pay for coal, food, clothes for the boys.
Then Mara realized that until she’d shown her face to him, even temple had believed he ‘d killed her. All the little lies she’d told herself about how he was fine, he was wealthy, a duke, and none of this had touched him came crumbling down around her. She finally admitted to herself that while he’d been caught in the crossfire, he was much more than just collateral damage. And all of it, the way everyone saw him as the killer duke, the way he’d not been back to his ancestral home, the way he thought of himself, was all because of her. It was only right that he had his vengeance. She could start over again; she’d done it once before. She could do this for him.
But it may be too late to help him, and the fact that she’s fallen in love with him makes it even harder to leave. But she will, for him. She inadvertently took his life from him, she will give it back, no matter the cost to herself.
I loved this story. I also love how we saw more of the previous couples than we usually do. Mara is a different type of heroine than I’m used to-she’s the villain of the piece. From some of the reviews I’ve read, most didn’t like her. I did. I thought she handled everything in the only way she could. She was young and stupid, and she made a mistake that cost both of them their lives (not in a dead way, but it ruined them). She didn’t know how to mend it, and she wasn’t brave enough once she was old enough to realize how badly she’d hurt Temple.
Temple for his part has convinced himself that having the acceptance of his peers is most important in getting his reputation back. He never thinks beyond the fact that she stole his life, while at the same time he admires her for not backing down from him. He finds he doesn’t necessarily want to ruin her anymore, but he’s already set everything in motion. He’s begun ruining her publicly, and there’s no stopping it.
This book was intense and emotional, and once it hooked me, I couldn’t stop reading. The much talked about epilogue definitely shocked me and I can’t wait for Chase’s book!
***ARC provided by Avon Books and Avon Addicts