He opened the door wide and turned back to face her, this woman who had changed his life. Who had ruined his life.
William started out life with everything, the world at his feet, titled and handsome, until he wakes up one morning in his soon to be stepmother’s bed covered in blood. Now he’s Temple, one of the owner’s of the notorious gambling establishment the Fallen Angel and the best bare knuckle fighter in London. Referred to by the ton as the “killer duke”, his former life lays in ruins and yet he still has no memory of what actually happened that night. Then one evening the woman he thought was dead confronts him at his own front door wanting to make a deal. She will come forward and prove his innocence if he will let go of her brother’s debt. But he will never forgive her for ruining his life and now that she’s in his clutches he’s more than ready to make her pay.
There were moments that changed one’s life. And paths that came without a fork in the road.
Mara Lowe has come back from the dead to settle her brother’s debt and maybe right a wrong. It was never her intention to destroy Temple’s life, she only wanted to make her escape from a terrible childhood and marriage to a much older man. But she’s lived with her disastrous choices for twelve years and even though she knows she is at fault she has few regrets. Her life hasn’t been easy, but she’s transformed herself and now runs an orphanage for young boys. In order to keep the boys’ home running she must get Temple to agree to her arrangement. His revenge will surely mean her fall from grace, but she’s more than willing to sacrifice herself in order to protect the boys she’s grown to love.
Temple’s plan is simple. He is going to make Mara’s life a misery and when the time is right reintroduce her to the world. Then he will finally be avenged and will surely be able to return to the life he should have lived all along. But when they start to spend time together Mara becomes real to him, she’s full of fire, loved by the boys she’s rescued and he can’t help but be drawn to her. Even as he intends to punish Mara, he starts to fall for her.
He kissed her again and again, his hands coming to cup her face and hold her still as he claimed her with lips and tongue and teeth until the whole world had disappeared and there was nothing but her. And him. And this moment. And the way they matched.
The way she saw him.
The way he saw her.
I won’t lie, I hated Mara when she first walked onto the page. Her actions caused the ruination of Temple’s life and she seemed unapologetic at first. It wasn’t until her own backstory started to unfold that I began to warm to her and then as Temple fell in love with her, so did I. Sarah MacLean excels at writing strong, interesting heroines and Mara became one of my favorites by the time I read the last chapter. There is so much emotion between this couple at first… animosity, pain and guilt. The anger that Temple feels over his past is almost like a living, breathing thing and he starts to battle with himself when he begins to like her as a person and feel passion for her. The roller coaster ride of emotion I felt when reading this story speaks to how well written each character was and how masterfully their relationship was allowed to unfold. I alternately felt sadness and compassion for both of them as they worked their way through to finally letting the past go and embracing the future.
The rest of the owners of the Fallen Angel make appearances and I liked seeing their loyalty toward Temple, even if the way they treated Mara made my chest ache. There are glimpses of the past that brought these men together and sealed their friendship. Even the mysterious Chase becomes a little less distant as he stands by his friend. His story is up next and it’s sure to be a must read.
Sarah MacLean is one of my absolute favorite historical romance authors. I have every one of her books in both paperback and ebook and I reread them frequently. Every time I open one of her new releases I know I am going to be engrossed in her storytelling straight through to the happily ever after. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished was no different. A beautiful tale of redemption and forgiveness wrapped up in a passionate love story. Final Grade- A
“I always see you,” he said. “You’re burned into me. I could be blind for the rest of my life, and I would still see you.”