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.
Very good book. Temple has been an interesting character since the first book and I was really happy to see him get his own story. All of the club owners have had interesting stories and this was no exception. Temple is a big, physically powerful man who defends the casino's winnings. He's known as the Killer Duke because he was thought to have murdered Mara Lowe, even though a body was never found. He lost his reputation and his way of life that night, and has been haunted by the fact that he remembers nothing about it.
One night Mara appears at his home, offering to set the record straight in exchange for the forgiveness of her brother's debt to the casino. Temple is stunned to see her and furious that his life was ruined by her. He isn't interested in what she wants, he wants revenge and retribution and comes up with a plan to make it happen. He doesn't count on becoming fascinated by the woman herself.
I had conflicted feelings about Mara through a lot of the book. The actions she had taken twelve years earlier, resulting in Temple's disgrace, seemed thoughtless and cruel. Eventually we learn of why she had done it and that what had happened to him was not part of the plan. Her insistence on bargaining for clearing his name also seems wrong, but again, there is a reason behind her demands that is not as selfish as it sounds at the beginning. Confronting him is frightening for her, but she soon discovers that in spite of everything she feels physically safe with him. Emotionally is something else entirely. She is attracted to him, but knows there is no chance of him wanting to be with the woman who ruined his life. I really enjoyed their encounters, as Mara is not a woman to back down over anything. Twelve years on her own has given her a backbone of steel and she challenges him at every step. There comes a time when she needs that steel to stand up to his friends as she tries to save his life. That particular scene is both heart wrenching and funny, as she faces off with Bourne and is supported by an unexpected ally. As her feelings for Temple grow, it is fascinating to see how she revises her plans, in the end sacrificing everything for love.
Temple was a complicated man. His early life had been blessed with good looks, a friendly personality, and a self-confidence that got him just about anything he wanted. Not being able to remember anything about the events of that night has him convinced that he really could have killed Mara. This has had a profound effect on his life ever since. Mara's reappearance stuns him. At first he experiences the relief that he isn't a murderer after all, but that is followed by the fury of knowing how much he has lost over the years. He doesn't care about the why, he just wants the satisfaction of her paying for what she has done. But he's soon fascinated by the woman who doesn't back down from her own demands. He's attracted to her and doesn't want to be. He tries to remain focused on his revenge, but finds moments of protectiveness creeping in. When he can look past what she did, Mara's strength and wit and feistiness are exactly the qualities that appeal to him in a woman he could make a life with. Those growing feelings are in direct conflict with the anger he still feels over what she did. In the end, he has to decide if revenge is worth the price they would pay. The ending was both everything I expected and nothing like what I thought would happen. I loved seeing Temple finally get the happiness he deserved.
I really liked seeing the two previous couples make appearances in this book. It was quite fun seeing the ladies standing up to their husbands, even to the point of supporting Mara. The scenes in the sickroom were great. I also enjoyed seeing the men get back at Temple a little as he starts to experience the tribulations of love. The epilogue has me ready to read Chase's story, as the information revealed was completely unexpected.