Review: The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

Reviewed by Jen

Oh wow. If you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you may remember my epic love for The Highwayman a few years back. This book is every bit as good as that one was. It gave me all the same feels. It was just as riveting. And it was the exact same brand of tortured hero catnip. Did it feel like a rehash? Absolutely not. It just recaptured the magic of that first book and I didn’t want to put it down from the first page to the last.

This is Rook’s story—and it’s not too much of a spoiler for fans of the series to reveal that Rook is actually Dorian Blackwell—the REAL Dorian Blackwell, whose identity Dougan Mackenzie co-opted in book 1. You don’t have to have read the prior books to appreciate the import of this, though I would recommend that you at least read The Highwayman. It’s not a hardship. I promise. Anyway, this nugget revealed in the very first chapter and you know immediately that his history is every bit as dark as Dougan’s was. After all, they were brothers-in-arms, facing the challenge of Newgate. Only, Dorian was supposedly killed while the bad-guys mistook him for Dougan. He was beaten and burned.

But he didn’t die.

He was found by young Lorelei and her family and nursed back to health. With no memory of who he was or what happened to him, he accepted the name Ash and clung to life with only Lorelei’s voice and gentle touch to guide him. She became his angel and reason to live. But her dastardly brother sold him into slavery after he recovered and they were separated for 20 years. During that time, he became the Dread Pirate Roberts, er, Rook, and he devoted his life to savagely making his way back to her side. He doesn’t reveal himself until her brother tries to force her into an unwanted marriage, and he spirits her away aboard his ship and marries her himself.

There were so many things I loved about this book, but mostly it was just how well Ash was drawn. He was so bleak and desolate—and why wouldn’t he be? He had been abused in every possible way. He lived in total darkness, but for the the light Lorelei provided. This is my very favorite trope and Kerrigan Byrne has done it to perfection. Ash sees himself a monster, incapable of humanity, but he worships Lorelei and she loves him no matter what.

It’s not a smooth path. Ash has a long way to go to even recognize how much he loves his wife. He doesn’t believe he is capable. But we see it in his every action… his every word. And Lorelei has been through so much. It’s earth shattering when Ash returns, especially seeing him so changed. But it’s worth every moment of struggle. If I am being real, it IS the struggle—the journey—that makes the book so riveting. And as an added bonus to fans, we get a very satisfying reunion with Dougan that brings the series full circle… along with some surprises about another familiar character.

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve gushed enough. Bottom line, if tortured heroes are your bag, pick this up immediately. It’s so very good.

Rating: A

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo
by Kerrigan Byrne
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks

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