Jane Lark has rekindled my love of historical romance with THE SCANDALOUS LOVE OF A DUKE!
Being the cover hussy I am, I will admit I was instantly drawn to this book’s cover while browsing through NetGalley, needless to say I was ecstatic when I was approved. Historical Romance is a comfort genre for me when I’m in the mood for a pick me up or have series burnout. It’s been a while since I read one that I didn’t want to put down but THE SCANDALOUS LOVE OF A DUKE had me glued to my Nook for an entire day! Jane Lark has penned a beautiful forbidden romance with a brooding, but swoon-worthy hero and a strong leading lady. The story drew me in early on and kept me turning the pages in anticipation. I’m not one to pick up a book mid-series so I was a little worried when I noticed this is book three in the Marlo Intrigues series but it easily stands alone. That being said, I can’t wait to read the previous installments and find out what I’ve missed!
THE SCANDALOUS LOVE OF A DUKE is the story of John Harding and his journey of self-actualization and love. Taken from his mother at an early age and raised by his grandfather, the Duke of Pembroke, John Harding grew up privileged but longing for the real love of a family. Searching for an escape he travels abroad in hopes of freeing himself of the demons of his past. When he receives a letter with news of his grandfather being on his deathbed, John decides to return home to face his family and assume his new role as the new Duke of Pembroke. What he wasn’t expecting was to fall into a world-wind romance with the one woman he can’t have, his childhood friend Katherine Spencer.
The sweet but complicated romance between John and Katherine is anything but predictable. Both characters have had their share of a tough past that has left them emotionally scarred, making them a perfect match. They have undeniable chemistry which makes for some steamy but romantic scenes. Katherine isn’t always a brave heroine, but I love that she doesn’t let her social status or lack thereof define her, she knows what she wants and never plays the victim. She’s loved John since she was a child and knows that his roguish ways will only get her burned, but she can’t resist him. John on the other hand is very guarded and has some inner turmoil due of his upbringing, but ultimately wishes to be a better man than his grandfather. Katherine’s understanding and tenderness brings out the best in John but even she has a long road ahead of her when it comes to changing his ways.
Their romance starts off as a sexy forbidden affair but I love that John never treats Katherine as inferior, even though he knows he can’t be with her. It was great to see this arrogant, charming ladies man transform into a man of worth with the love of a forbidden woman. Katherine’s pregnancy « Hide Spoiler was not a favorite element of the story for me, I thought it made it their HEA a little too easy, but was glad when John stepped up to the plate before knowing about it…it shows he truly loved her and that he would just marry her out of some obligation. I really enjoyed this couple and the struggles they experienced before the happy ending, it wasn’t too perfect and is realistic for the time period.
Elegantly written, THE SCANDALOUS LOVE OF A DUKE is filled with intense passion and intrigue. The story’s third person narrative really captures the raw emotion and growth of the characters. Jane Lark transports you back in time and makes you fall in love with her rich world and relatable protagonists. John and Katherine’s story is a fantastic introduction to this wonderful series (even if it’s out of order) and I can’t wait to go back and read the first two books. If you’re looking for a new historical romance to add to your reading list I’d highly recommend you give Jane Lark’s Marlow Intrigues a go!