Temple has lived the last 12 years of his life suspected of a murder he didn’t commit. Not even he is sure of his own innocence. He only knows that –shortly before his father’s wedding– he woke in a strange bed, covered in blood. The bed belonged to his would-be step-mother, and she was never seen or heard from again. Since that day, he has lived in disgrace under the moniker “The Killer Duke.” He is part owner of a notorious gaming hell, and he fights night after night in the ring. The only respect he has, he’s earned with his fists.
Mara is the woman he is accused of killing, and she most assuredly is not dead. She wasn’t even trying to fake her death all those years ago, merely her ruin –so she could escape an arranged marriage to a man old enough to be her father. She would have never returned, except that her brother Christopher has racked up a significant debt in Temple’s club. Not only did he gamble away all of his money, but hers as well –money she had set aside to run the orphanage she founded. She approaches Temple with an offer to clear his name in exchange for the forgiveness of Christopher’s debt.
Of course, her proposal enrages Temple. After all, she is trying to use the situation she created against him. As readers, we know that she is trying to save her orphans, but to Temple, she is manipulative and cruel. She demands payment for every increment of her time; each of her services must be bought. And while this isn’t a sexual transaction, its easy to see how he could liken her to a whore. There is a sea of animosity between these two.
Yet there is also a pull. The same pull that drew them together all those years ago… back when she chose him to be the means of her ruin. I can see why she falls for him. Temple is no gentleman, but he has his own code. He is beautiful in his masculinity.
He’s hard on the outside, but has vulnerability beneath. But I am honestly not sure how he manages to fall for her. The readers know she isn’t a bad person, and she has pure motives in taking care of her boys. Yet, she never shares the truth with him. It was exasperating! She could have saved them both so much angst by the telling him what was going on. Moreover, while I didn’t find her to be a bad person, I did think she was a selfish one –and lacked a depth and maturity one would think she would have developed over the years. How she treated Temple was inexcusable.
Still, the sexual tension was outstanding. And I found myself rooting for these two, if only to give poor Temple what he wanted. As the book progressed, I felt like the playing field finally started leveling off between these two. And there was one scene with the two of them in the fighting ring where I actually felt sorry for Mara.
I enjoyed the book, though the heroine did frustrate me at times. No really big surprises, but I Temple made the journey worthwhile. Plus… the Epilogue spill a shocking set-up for Chase’s book. Wow.
*ARC Provided by Avon