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Blog Tour Stop: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo
by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Victorian Rebels #6
Genres: Historical Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 28th 2018
Source: ARC received for review
Rating: ★★★1/2

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The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…
He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…
Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

TW: rape mentions, abuse

Honestly, I don't know how to review this book. It was slow to start but gripping enough to hold my attention, and by the time I finished the book I could say that I loved it, but I'm still uncomfortable with some parts of the story.

Let me break it down into the good and the bad.

The Good

I'm not usually a fan of books that start with the main characters meeting as children, but I was surprisingly fine with that happening in this book, even when that covered the first four chapters (Chapter 5 began with a twenty year gap). The author did a great job showing a strong bond between fourteen-year-old Lorelai and the boy she rescued from the side of the road, whom she named Ash since he suffered from amnesia and couldn't remember who he was. I was as devastated as Lorelai when Ash disappeared.

Lorelai is the queen of my heart. I love her so much. She has a kind heart (she rescues strays and injured animals and nurse them back to health), she is loyal to her loved ones, and she has a strong spirit. It is a wonder how she could still remain resilient in the face of adversity considering her brother crippled her as a child and continued to torment her until adulthood. I also love her relationship with her sister-in-law, Veronica.

Honestly, I stayed for Lorelai. She and Veronica carried this story for me.

Every time we're broken, we get back up and limp along.

The Bad

Having read almost all the books in Victorian Rebels, I'm familiar with the violence in these stories. The main characters in Victorian Rebels are the unluckiest people; they suffered a lot of pain and abuse, and some of them did heinous things to survive their ordeal. Lorelai and Ash were no different.

That being said, I didn't remember being this wary of the heroes in the previous books but I did with Ash, who finally returned to Lorelai not as Ash but as the notorious pirate and wanted criminal, The Rook.

For context, Ash disappeared while on an errand with Lorelai's brother one day, and Lorelai never saw him again until twenty years later when an unknown man appeared on her wedding day, murdered her brother, and kidnapped her.

There were many questions raised as the story progressed: who in Hades was "Ash"? What really happened to him on the day he left? How did he become The Rook? These questions were also the reason I stayed throughout the story, I couldn't stand not knowing. I sure as heck didn't stay for The Rook because he didn't impress me at all. He forced Lorelai to marry him on his ship, kept threatening to consummate their marriage and saying shitty things like "One cannot rape one's wife", wouldn't let her and Veronica (yes, he kidnapped Veronica too) go free no matter how many times they begged.

Yes, The Rook was an asshole who milked "I'm a big bad pirate, I have no mercy, you might as well obey me"  for all its worth.

"I can offer more than money, you know." Casually, he lifted his arms to scrub at his hair.
Lorelai made a rude noise. "You have no past, no country, no family, no compassion. No kindness. You won't even claim a name. Just what do you have that could possibly entice me?"

Lorelai took none of his shit.

Sure, he didn't actually carry on his threats, even made a deal that he wouldn't come to her unless she made the first move, but that didn't make him less of an asshole.

Overall, it would have been a solid 4 star read had The Rook not do and say some things he did and said. I did end up rooting for the romance in the end, though, so now

but I decided on a 3.5 stars because I still enjoyed the book as a whole.

Funnily, The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is my favourite out of all the books (so far; I still haven't read The Scot Beds His Wife, so there's still a chance this might not be my favourite) despite its shortcomings. You don't need to have read the previous five to be able to enjoy this book because it works as a standalone but I reckon it will give a higher emotional impact if you have at least read the first book because many things are revealed in this one.

About Kerrigan Byrne

Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

Social Links:

Twitter: @Kerrigan_Byrne
Instagram: @KerriganByrne

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