Book Review: The Scandalous Love of a Duke (Marlow Intruiges #4) by Jane Lark

The Scandalous Love of a Duke by Jane Lark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: HarperImpulse

Summary:  Isolated by life and choice, John Harding, the Duke of Pembroke, sees an angel in a pale mauve dress across a ballroom and is drawn closer.

The wheat-blonde hair escaping her dull dove-grey bonnet caresses her neck and lures his eyes to the spot he'd most like to kiss.

Then as if she senses his gaze the stranger turns and looks at him…

“A rush of pain and longing spilled from Katherine's heart into her limbs. It was so long since she'd seen John but her reaction was the same as it had been more than half-a-dozen years before. She loved him, secretly, without hope, but a chasm of years and status stood between them.”

I’d read the first in this series earlier in the year and quite enjoyed it so I was excited to give this one a go as well. John Harding is the son of the main characters of the first book, Ellen and Edward. Theirs was quite an angsty tale and John and Kate were not a disappointment in that department.

I didn’t quite get why John was so emotionally closed off given that his mother and her then, new husband Edward, took him into their care when he was ten from his grandfather and though it was stated often in the story that the time apart had been what informed him most, I just had a difficult time buying him as this unloved, tortured soul. Most especially because the distance he put between his family and others was self-imposed. And he took such a put upon tone so often, I found I lost sympathy and patience with him often. I especially didn’t like him issuing orders at her and it really took away from the romance for me. Kate had the patience of some sort of saint. And if I am honest, I recollect feeling the same with Ellen and Edward, so perhaps John came by it honestly as his mother could be a bit tiring in that was as well. Still, there’s something about the way the story weaves and wends that pulled me in again and in spite of myself, I was pulling for John and Kate.

I did feel Kate was too sacrificial in the beginning but she did begin speaking up for herself with John a bit more as the story went along and for that I was grateful. She also had her own challenges which for the most part, I understood but there were times where she annoyed me a bit as well. Still though, I rooted for them and kept turning the pages because I was interested. As in the first book, the B-plot really pulled me in and I was very much interested in Wareham and I liked the twists and the tie up of that thread in the story. I’d sussed out Kate’s parentage early on but I was not disappointed in the reveal though I did hold a grudge against her father and had absolutely no more use for her mother. I very much enjoyed seeing Edward and Ellen happy in their lives but also having to deal with the facts of their lives up to meeting and how Ellen’s life in particular had informed John’s childhood.

Overall, I enjoyed this as I did the first in the series. I appreciate the author’s skill at making me care about the characters in moments that otherwise I would roll my eyes and toss my Kindle across the room. I still care in those moments and I want to press on. I admit even to being caught up in the angst and emotion of the story far more than my logical side would like. This is a quick, enjoyable read and definitely a good one for vacation or a weekend. Also, I did receive a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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