Kerrigan Byrne returns to her captivating Victorian Rebels series with the USA Today bestselling The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo.
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…
A LEGENDARY LOVE
Lorelai 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?
“Byrne is a force in the genre.”—RT Book Reviews
About the Author
Kerrigan Byrne has done many things to pay the bills, from law enforcement to belly dance instructor. Now she's finally able to have the career she'd decided upon at thirteen when she announced to her very skeptical family that she was going to "grow up to be a romance novelist." Whether she's writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in almost every story.
Her novels with St. Martin's Press include THE HIGHWAYMAN and THE HUNTER.
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.
Read an Excerpt
If Lorelai Weatherstoke hadn't been appreciating the storm out the carriage window, she'd have missed the naked corpse beneath the ancient ash tree.
"Father, look!" She seized Lord Southbourne's thin wrist, but a barrage of visual stimuli overwhelmed her, paralyzing her tongue.
In all her fourteen years, she'd never seen a naked man, let alone a deceased one.
He lay facedown, strong arms reached over his head as though he'd been trying to swim through the shallow grass lining the road. Ghastly dark bruises covered what little flesh was visible beneath the blood. He was all mounds and cords, his long body different from hers in every way a person could be.
Her heart squeezed, and she fought to find her voice as the carriage trundled past. The poor man must be cold, she worried, then castigated herself for such an absurd thought.
The dead became one with the cold. She'd learned that by kissing her mother's forehead before they closed her casket forever.
"What is it, duck?" Her father may have been an earl, but the Weatherstokes were gentry of reduced circumstances, and didn't spend enough time in London to escape the Essex accent.
Lorelai had not missed the dialect while at school in Mayfair, and it had been the first thing she'd rid herself of in favor of a more proper London inflection. In this case, however, it was Lord Southbourne's words, more than his accent, that caused her to flinch.
As cruel as the girls could be at Braithwaite's Boarding School, none of their taunts had made her feel quite so hollow as the one her own family bestowed upon her.
"I-it's a man," she stammered. "A corp —" Oh no, had he just moved, or had she imagined it? Squinting through the downpour, she pressed her face to the window in time to see battered knuckles clenching the grass, and straining arms pulling the heavy body forward.
"Stop," she wheezed, overtaken by tremors. "Stop the carriage!"
"What's bunched your garters, then?" Sneering across from her, Mortimer, her elder brother, brushed aside the drapes at his window. "Blimey! There's a bleedin' corpse by the road." Three powerful strikes on the roof of the coach prompted the driver to stop.
"He's alive!" Lorelai exclaimed, pawing at the door handle. "I swear he moved. We have to help him."
"I thought that fancy, expensive school was supposed to make you less of an idiot, Duck." Mortimer's heavy brows barely separated on a good day and met to create one thick line when he adopted the expression of disdainful scorn he reserved solely for her. "What's a cripple like you going to do in the mud?"
"We should probably drive through to Brentwood," Lord Southbourne suggested diplomatically. "We can send back an ambulance to fetch him."
"He'll need an undertaker by then," Lorelai pleaded. "We must save him, mustn't we?"
"I've never seen so much blood." It was morbid fascination rather than pity darkening her brother's eyes. "I'm going out there."
"I'm coming with you."
A cruel hand smacked Lorelai out of the way, and shoved her back against the faded brocade velvet of her seat. "You'll stay with Father. I'll take the driver."
As usual, Lord Robert Weatherstoke said and did nothing to contradict his only son as Mortimer leaped from the coach and slammed the door behind him.
Lorelai barely blamed her passive father anymore. Mortimer was so much larger than him these days, and ever so much crueler.
She had to adjust her throbbing leg to see the men making their way through the gray of the early-evening deluge. Just enough remained of daylight to delineate color variations.
The unfortunate man was a large smudge of gore against the verdant spring ground cover. Upon Mortimer and the driver's approach, he curled in upon himself not unlike a salted snail. Only he had no shell to protect his beaten body.
Lorelai swallowed profusely in a vain attempt to keep her heart from escaping through her throat as the man was hoisted aloft, each arm yoked like an ox's burden behind a proffered neck. Even though Mortimer was the tallest man she knew, the stranger's feet dragged in the mud. His head lolled below his shoulders, so she couldn't get a good look at his face to ascertain his level of consciousness.
Other parts of him, though, she couldn't seem to drag her eyes away from.
She did her best not to look between his legs, and mostly succeeded. At a time like this, modesty hardly mattered, but she figured the poor soul deserved whatever dignity she could allow him.
That is to say, she only peeked twice before wrenching her eyes upward.
The muscles winging from his back beneath where his arms spread were ugly shades of darkness painted by trauma. The ripples of his ribs were purple on his left side, and red on the other. Blunt bruises interrupted the symmetrical ridges of his stomach, as though he'd been kicked or struck repeatedly. As they dragged him closer, what she'd feared had been blood became something infinitely worse.
It was as though his flesh had been chewed away, but by something with no teeth. The plentiful meat of his shoulder and chest, his torso, hips, and down his thigh were grotesquely visible.
"Good God, how is he still alive?" The awe in her father's voice reminded her of his presence as they scurried to open the carriage door and help drag the man inside. It took the four of them to manage it.
"He won't be unless we hurry." The driver tucked the man's long, long legs inside, resting his knees against the seat. "I fear he won't last the few miles to Brentwood."
Ripping her cloak off, Lorelai spread it over the shuddering body on the floor. "We must do what we can," she insisted. "Is there a doctor in Brentwood?"
"Aye, and a good one."
"Please take us there without delay."
"O'course, miss." He secured the door and leaped into his seat, whipping the team of fresh horses into a gallop.
As they lurched forward, the most pitiful sound she'd ever heard burst from the injured man's lips, which flaked with white. His big arm flailed from beneath the cloak to protect his face, in a gesture that tore Lorelai's heart out of her chest.
The burn scored the sinew of his neck and up his jaw to his cheekbone.
Pangs of sympathy slashed at her own skin, and drew her muscles taut with strain. Lorelai blinked a sheen of tears away, and cleared emotion out of her tight throat with a husky sound she'd made to soothe many a wounded animal on the Black Water Estuary.
His breaths became shallower, his skin paler beneath the bruises.
He was dying.
Without thinking, she slid a hand out of her glove, and gently pressed her palm to his, allowing her fingers to wrap around his hand one by one.
"Don't go," she urged. "Stay here. With me."
His rough, filthy hand gripped her with such strength, the pain of it stole her breath. His face turned toward her, though his eyes remained closed.
Still, it heartened her, this evidence of awareness. Perhaps, on some level, she could comfort him.
"You're going to be all right," she crooned.
"Don't lie to the poor bastard." Mortimer's lip curled in disgust. "He's no goose with a defective wing, or a three-legged cat, like the strays you're always harboring. Like as not he's too broken to be put back together with a bandage, a meal, and one of your warbling songs. He's going to die, Lorelai."
"You don't know that," she said more sharply than she'd intended, and received a sharp slap for her lapse in wariness.
"And you don't know what I'll do to you if you speak to me in that tone again."
Most girls would look to their fathers for protection, but Lorelai had learned long ago that protection was something upon which she could never rely.
Her cheek stinging, Lorelai lowered her eyes. Mortimer would take it as a sign of submission, but she only did it to hide her anger. She'd learned by now to take care around him in times of high stress, or excitement. It had been her folly to forget ... because she knew exactly what he was capable of. The pinch of her patient's strong grip was nothing next to what she'd experienced at the hands of her brother on any given month.
Ignoring the aching throb in her foot, Lorelai dismissed Mortimer, leaning down instead to stroke a dripping lock of midnight hair away from an eye so swollen, he'd not have been able to open it were he awake.
Across from her, Mortimer leaned in, as well, ostensibly studying the man on the floor with equal parts intrigue and disgust. "Wonder what happened to the sod. I haven't seen a beating like this in all my years."
Lorelai schooled a level expression from her face at the reference to his many perceived years. He was all of twenty, and the only violence he witnessed outside of sport, he perpetrated himself.
"Brigands, you suspect?" Sir Robert fretted from beside her, checking the gathering darkness for villains.
"Entirely possible," Mortimer said flippantly. "Or maybe he is one. We are disturbingly close to Gallows Corner."
"Mortimer," their father wheezed. "Tell me you haven't pulled a criminal into my coach. What would people say?"
The Weatherstoke crest bore the motto Fortunam maris, "fortune from the sea," but if anyone had asked Lorelai what it was, she'd have replied, Quid dicam homines? "What would people say?"
It had been her father's favorite invocation — and his greatest fear — for as long as she could remember.
Lorelai opened her mouth to protest, but her brother beat her to it, a speculative glint turning his eyes the color of royal sapphires. "If I'd hazard a guess, it would be that this assault was personal. A fellow doesn't go to the trouble to inflict this sort of damage lest his aim is retribution or death. Perhaps he's a gentleman with gambling debts run afoul of a syndicate. Or, maybe a few locals caught him deflowering their sister ... though they left those parts intact, didn't they, Duck?" His sly expression told Lorelai that he'd caught her looking where she ought not to.
Blushing painfully, she could no longer bring herself to meet Mortimer's cruel eyes. They were the only trait Lorelai shared with her brother. Her father called them the Weatherstoke jewels. She actively hated looking in the mirror and seeing Mortimer's eyes staring back at her.
Instead, she inspected the filthy nails of the hand engulfing her own. The poor man's entire palm was one big callus against hers. The skin on his knuckles, tough as an old shoe, had broken open with devastating impact.
Whatever had happened to him, he'd fought back.
"He's no gentleman," she observed. "Too many calluses. A local farmhand, perhaps, or a stable master?" It didn't strain the imagination to envision these hands gripping the rope of an erstwhile stallion. Large, magnificent beasts pitting their strength one against the other.
"More like stable boy," Mortimer snorted. "I'd wager my inheritance he's younger than me."
"How can you tell?" With his features beyond recognition, Lorelai was at a loss as to the man's age. No gray streaked his midnight hair, nor did lines bracket his swollen lips, so she knew he couldn't be old, but beyond that ...
"He's not possessed of enough body hair for a man long grown."
"But he's so big," she reasoned. "And his chest appears to have been badly burned, the hair might have singed right off."
"I'm not referring to his chest, you dull-wit, but to his coc —"
Lorelai winced. It was as close to a reprimand as her father ever ventured. Mortimer must have been very wicked, indeed. It was just her luck that he did so on perhaps the first occasion Lorelai had actually wanted her brother to finish a sentence.
A rut in the road jostled them with such force at their frantic pace, Lorelai nearly landed on the injured man. His chest heaved a scream into his throat, but it only escaped as a piteous, gurgling groan.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," she whimpered. Dropping to her knees, she hovered above him, the fingers of her free hand fluttering over his quaking form, looking for a place to land that wouldn't cause him pain.
She could find none. He was one massive wound.
A tear splashed from her eye and disappeared into the crease between his fingers.
"Duck, perhaps it's best you take your seat." Her father's jowly voice reminded her of steam wheezing from a teakettle before it's gathered enough strength to whistle. "It isn't seemly for a girl of your standing to be thus prostrated on the floor."
With a sigh, she did her best to get her good foot beneath her, reaching for the plush golden velvet of the seat to push herself back into it.
An insistent tug on her arm tested the limits of her shoulder socket, forcing her to catch herself once more.
"Lorelai, I said sit," Lord Southbourne blustered.
"I can't," she gasped incredulously. "He won't let me go."
"What's this, then?" Mortimer wiped some of the mud away from the straining cords of the man's forearm, uncovering an even darker smudge beneath. As he cleared it, a picture began to take shape, the artful angles and curves both intriguing and sinister until mottled, injured skin ruptured the rendering. "Was it a bird of some kind? A serpent?"
"No." Lorelai shook her head, studying the confusion of shapes intently. "It's a dragon."CHAPTER 2
He inhaled agony, and exhaled anguish.
Just as he'd done for an eternity, at least.
Swallowing the constant hysteria and confusion evoked by the waves of discomfort and pain upon waking, he lay in the absolute darkness behind the bandages on his eyes and began his list. A pitiful list he frantically added to with stubborn determination.
What he knew: he'd been born a man in a mass grave. His midwives were named fire and torment, delivering him into an unfamiliar world. His siblings had been ravens, feasting on the dead.
The fire had been lye, a chemical poured on the corpses to help them disintegrate faster.
The torment had been everything else.
He suffered from amnesia. The word meant nothing to him. But disembodied voices repeated it with increasing astonishment.
The damage to his head had been such that they'd wrapped all but his mouth. Constant headaches plagued him, and a particular pain in his temple throbbed ceaselessly.
He lived in England, but knew not where.
He'd broken five parts of himself: a left ankle, two ribs, a collarbone, and his nose.
Something in his eye had ruptured, turning it red and swollen.
He'd sat up yesterday, and could lift his previously dislocated shoulder a little higher than before, though it remained secured to his chest by a sling.
His burns had stopped oozing, then scabbed, and were beginning to scar.
Though he could not see, his ears worked just fine.
Thus concluded the sum total of what he knew about himself.
For weeks now, he'd slept among strangers.
An attentive doctor: Dr. Holcomb. A man more concerned about efficiency than kindness, with a rough voice and a gentle touch. Holcomb had supplied most of the information on his list whether the good doctor had meant to or not.
A doddering old fool: Lord Robert Weatherstoke, the Earl of Southbourne. Anxious. Dejected. Weak. Constantly shifting and fiddling with something that made hollow, tiny clicks. A watch? His footsteps shuffled like sandpaper against the floor, and his voice often shook when he spoke in whispers.
A man he wanted to kill: Lord Mortimer Weatherstoke, the Viscount Munthorpe. Someone who communicated in jibes and sarcasm. Every observation curious and morbid. Every reply an insult. His footsteps fell like hammers, and jangled nerves already taut with pain. A furious temperature rose on the rare occasions Mortimer visited. And the heart pumped with hatred, lips twisting into a snarl.
Then ... there was her.
The girl he kept waking up for.
Dr. Holcomb called her my lady. The other two called her Duck.
When he could do something about it ... they wouldn't call her that anymore.
Lips parting on a constricted breath summoned at the thought of her, he rested the hand unencumbered by a sling against his heart.
He desired to know her name more desperately than he desired his own.
A flushing sensation conjured a troubling heat into his cheeks.
Her beatific voice had brought him back from the beckoning abyss above which he'd floated those first feverish days.
Don't go, she'd murmured. Stay here. With me.
And so he had.
He'd lived only because she bade him to.
Whenever death seduced him with an end to the agony, he waited to hear the soft timbre of her admonishments just one more time. And once more after that. The slide of her fingers against his palm somehow banked the terror of an empty past. It suddenly didn't matter who he'd been. Or what would become of him.
He measured time in the increments between her visits.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo"
Copyright © 2018 Kerrigan Byrne.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I’ve had a bit of an up and down relationship with this series, but this was a title and premise that intrigued, so I’m giving it a go. And, for the early part of the book, until about the halfway point, I was all in: the stories were intriguing, the blush of young love was refreshing, and the nod to (while often ignoring) conventions of the time showed a sense of Victoriana while not reverting to the overall stuffiness that often surrounded and stifled interactions. But both Ash and Lorelei are wonderfully drawn, and despite both having horrible pasts, gentle and open with one another. And then, Ash left and Lorelei was left, at fourteen, at the hands of her dastardly brother, with few to no options and constant psychological abuse, put downs and a helplessness and near hopelessness where changing her future was concerned. Twenty years have passed, her brother has run through all the money (including her dowry) and terrorizes his own wife in ways unimagined, well, if Lorelei wasn’t privy to most of aftermath. Her only options are penury and the abuse, or marriage- a marriage to another distasteful man, arranged by the brother. On her wedding day, one that she’s dreaded yet accepts with her usual equanimity – keeping everything close to her chest except from those who know and care about her best: her sister-in-law. But, circumstances align and she and her sister-in-law are taken from the church, her bother is murdered and her fiancé is a no-show – and the culprit – The Rook, is to blame. The Rook is Lorelei’s Ash, some twenty years later- a harder, more threatening, twenty years too late Ash. The power play between these two, with Ash’s inability to find his humanity and the words to explain just how important Lorelei is to him, how he fought through being shanghaied and repeatedly sold from one ship to another, waited to build experience and fortune, killing and looting- all to reclaim her. But, he still is no closer to knowing who he is, only that he must possess Lorelei, have her close to hand simply because she brings him peace. The revelations from Ash’s past, including his name, his history and the semblance of family he created as a young street urchin are dramatically, and thoroughly revealed, as Ash comes to learn of his past, his memories returned, and Lorelei at his side. The stories here are heartbreaking and horrible: Ash’s trials, Lorelei’s struggles and everyone’s amusement at Ash’s cluelessness with regard to his feelings for her. Emotions are palpable, with Lorelei’s heart and fierce protectiveness shining through. A lovey story that has some intriguing and clever moments woven into the story of lost and broken things finding hope and happiness, and a new start. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Wow, so many things happened in this book. Again, even though these are standalones, I think the reader will benefit more from it if they read it in order since characters do crossover. Kerrigan sure put the grit and OMG moments in here that I didn't even see coming. This book had a different format from the others because instead of 1 chapter being in the past as a Prologue, in this one we get about 5. So we got a more in depth view of the characters when they were kids. I can't wait for the next book!
Love this series! Just gets better and better!
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? This story starts at the beginning of the Rook’s tragic life. The reader is given the pieces to the Rook’s life that is taken from him. The entire story, as it unravels, is really about all of the horrors the Rook has went through and what he goes through to get back to the angel that saved him early on. My one complaint is that it seemed like the author had to find every possible bad thing that could happen to the Rook and make it happen, not to mention the crappy life that Lorelei had. This has happened in other books that I’ve read by this author and it tends to bring down the books just a little for me. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
Any historical romance lovers? I will admit that I once turned up my nose at the idea of reading a HR. And the covers would always make me roll my eyes. But at the beginning of this year, while spending some time in the Netherlands, a dear friend convinced me to read a book by Kerrigan Byrne, and I was schooled in the errors of my ways. Perhaps it is just Byrne’s writing and storytelling, but I was hooked and read the whole series as fast as I could. HR has never been so exciting with danger, roguish characters, and strong willed women. I was READY for The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo! In my humble opinion, an opinion I believe everyone should share, I have decided to name Kerrigan Byrne the queen of historical romance. Her consistency in both intricate storytelling and beautiful writing captures the reader, taking us on an adventure that will consume. The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is a fantastic addition to the Victorian Rebels series. This story brings back some favorites from the series before and dives head first into the mystery of who the Rook is and how he is tied to the series. Watching the story unfold is both breath taking and heart breaking, and I loved every minute of it. Seeing how to dots continued to connect had me riveted. I refuse to spoil the story but your expectations will be met. We have a dashing alpha hero, one who is rough around the edges and hardened due to life’s brutal mistreatment, and a stunning heroine, one who is misjudged by the world as weak, a woman fierce in her protection of those she loves and unwavering in devotion. There are so many exciting revelations between the covers of this book. The pacing is perfect and the story runs smooth. Add to that pirates, rouges, danger, and tension you can feel to your bones and you have a page turner I could not put down. If you are a historical romance reader and have yet to grab this story, you are missing out. Byrne delivers a story that will enrapture you in such a way that stopping for a moment is not an option. I can’t wait to see what is next!
Historical fantasy with a duke and a tattoo. What could possibly be more captivating on a rainy weekend? I loved reading about the Rook/Ash and sweet, innocent, Lorelei. Lorelei was a sweet and loving person. She was nothing like her brother or father. She was not deserving of the abuse she suffered for years. She only wanted to be loved and to love in return. The one she fell in love with left her years ago. Now, thirty-four years old, she was more or less sold to pay debts she did not incur. She never would have guessed this would be the change in her life she needed to make it better. Ash/the Rook was just a boy when his world changed. He was young man when he learned the value of hard work and the deny of love. He was a man back to avenge, change, take back the life he lost and the love that he was sure was meant to be. Lorelei and Ash's romance was full of adventure, drama, pain, sorrow, abuse, mistrust, love and life. I LOVED these two characters from the first time I met each one of them. This one was most certainly was a page turner, an adventure to top all historical adventures. Byrne gives me a read that takes me on a trip back to the past each and every time I pick up one of her books. I love making the journey filled with sight and sounds of the past writing in words that enmesh the mind in a visual cloud of dreams. I LOOK FORWARD TO THE AUDIO. . . I WILL LISTEN TO IT OVER AND OVER. . . This was my best historical romance of the year.
Adored this book! The characters are so deeply drawn and the romance so sweet and meaningful. The book is sexy and moving. Loved it.
The newest entry in the Victorian Rebel series is a journey you won’t soon forget! From the first sentence to the last and everything in between . The Rooks story unfolds and embraces you in a ride you don’t want to end! As surely as the sun sets he will return and Lorelei will learn the Rook will not be denied and the Rook will come to understand neither shall she!
The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is a romance full of passion and heartache. Kerrigan Byrne built a beautiful story that is interspersed with moments of darkness lightened by hopeful desire and lessons in love. I adored Lorelei and The Rook for their imperfections and everything that was perfect about them. Their story is for the hopeful romantics and historical fiction buffs alike! Lorelei is a sweet soul brought up under the shadow of a hateful brother and passive father. Her passion for healing broken animals brings into her care a mysterious young man, who remembers nothing of his past, badly broken and scarred. They forge a connection that is suddenly broken, but made even stronger when they come together again 20 years later. The gap in time that they were apart was shocking, but it worked for this story. It made their longing and disappointment that much easier to imagine. The adventure they embark upon is rife with danger and surprises, but through it all the biggest adventure is learning about each other as they are now. The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is about the average length of a historical romance, but I felt like I sailed through the story. It's so easy to fall into Lorelei and The Rook's drama because it's compelling and the desire to know who The Rook truly is and what happened to him in the past is so strong. The story is slightly on the dark side, but there are plenty of moments that brought out the hapless romantic in me that I know you all will dearly enjoy! *ARC provided in consideration for review*
Slow Burn, sweet and sensual romance Kerrigan Byrne has become one of my favorite writers in historical romance. Once again she delivers a story rich in character and description in The Duke With The Dragon Tattoo and what an amazing experience reading Ash and Lorelai’s story. Though Ash is the name Lorelai gives the man who is found horribly beaten and half dead near an Ash tree, his identity remains a mystery throughout the book until towards the end when his memory is jolted awake. It is unbelievable what happens to this young man who is imprisoned, beaten, and left for dead. Lorelai who is 14 at the time, nurtures him to back to health, and both develop strong feelings of love and friendship. But Ash’s fate is heartbreaking and the time with Lorelai is cut short when her cruel brother, Mortimer, sells him to merchant seamen. Twenty long years and still without his memory of the past, an amazing story unfolds around this man who is known as The Rook. The story is complex and engrossing. We really don’t get that much romance until almost the end, but it is worth the wait. Throw in a hunt for treasure, tales of becoming a duke and amassing wealth, and a mutinous crew of pirates, and you get one heck of a story. Ms. Byrne’s storytelling is imaginative and rich in descriptive detail which makes it fascinating. I love how this ties to the other characters, Dougan and Argent, in the Victorian Rebels series. I received a copy from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.
I absolutely adored the story! Lorelei finds a man near death and nurses him back to health. During his recovery she falls in love with him. When he leaves, he promises to come back for her. 20 yrs later, he has kept his promise, but the man that returns is not the man that left 20 yrs ago. He is now, The Rook. Having lost his memory all those years ago, The Rook, must struggle to survive. He has done some terrible things and knows that Lorelei is better off without him. He has been satisfied with just watching over her until she is to be forced into a marriage by her brother. She finally has the man of her dreams back, but the man she remembers is no longer there. Can seh find her way back to the man she fell in love with all those year ago. Byrne does it again with this book. I just couldn't put it down. This whole series has kept me riveted and this addition was no different. With such deep and dark characters, it's hard to not fall in love with them!! It looks like there is at least one more book in this series and I can't wait to read it!!
I think I have read all of her Historical Romances, but keep looking for one I may have missed. This genre has had me addicted since the late 1960's. Keep writing your Historical Romances!!?
OK for starters, I have no idea what to call the hero, so I'm calling him Rook for now. (You will understand when you read the book...) I loved both the main characters, who are both so deeply damaged but also both SO STRONG in their own unique ways. Lorelei's ankle was broken as a child and never healed correctly so she is crippled, both in body and in spirit by her abusive (horrible!) brother. Despite how wounded she is, both in body and in spirit, Lorelei is a giver and a caretaker and helps to heal up all the broken creatures she finds - even if those creatures are very big teenage boys. Rook is interesting on a whole other, darker level, and he's also been wounded in body and in spirit. Their journey is so heart-breaking and painful and also lovely and I cried through a lot of this book, but also laughed a fair amount too. This book is a lot closer to an old-school bodice ripper than most of what I read, but I still really enjoyed it. It's also higher angst than I usually enjoy (I tend to go for lighter, fluffier reads with a romantic comedy feel), but it's so well written and the characters are so multi-dimensional that I really enjoyed it. This is the sixth book in the Victorian Rebels series, but can be read as a stand alone. I assume there are some spoilers for at least one earlier book in the series, as they meet the couple from the first book, The Highwayman, and go into their story a bit. I'm still looking forward to reading the earlier books in the series (this was my first Kerrigan Byrne!) and don't feel like this spoiled them for me, and I also was not left feeling lost having not read the earlier books.
A young boy, a thief gets a tattoo of a dragon which is the map for a treasure. Walters finishes it and suddenly some guards come and beat him so bad they think he is dead. They dump him in a pauper's grave, pour lye on and leave. Lorelai Weatherstroke is riding by with her father and brother. She points him out and she sees a little motion and begs to pick him up. They get him home and the doctor comes, Lorelai nurses him back to health. She had a broken ankle and could not walk well but she was very attentive to him. She calls him Ash because he was found under an Ash tree. This is a very complicated story, so much happens. Ash and Lorelai are separated by twenty years and he has changed his name to the Rook, a notorious pirate. The characters are amazing and interact very well with each other. I loved when he got his memory back and his two brothers there, and they started filling him in on the past twenty years. This was a mesmerizing read it was so good you could not put it down. The author has done such a marvelous job of keeping all the ends together, it is well written and moves smoothly. She did great and I so highly recommend this book. It does have some sexy scenes, so you may want to keep this to people eighteen or over. I received this ARC from the author and voluntarily reviewed this book.
I have to agree with all the other reviews about how really amazing this book is! It was like finding a treasure. Choosing a book to read and suddenly realizing that it is one of the best stories you have ever read! It will take you in a stormy adventure of feelings, wants, and redemption where one tortured soul will strive to survive in a cruel and unfair world. Don't miss the opportunity to read a masterful and heart warming story! Enjoy!
I enjoyed their story quite a bit. The two characters reminded me a bit of the Pirate captain and his lady love in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Deadmen Walking (without the paranormal aspect). He is a scary and powerful pirate king who is infamous and known to be cold and cruel. She is a sweet and innocent woman who fears him at first but sees beneath the surface as the story progresses, though it does take a good portion of the book to see a softer side of him. They met when she was 14 and he was 17 when she spots him lying in a mass grave badly beaten, lye burns on portions of his body, and almost dead. She nurses him back to life and it is her voice that pulls him from the brink of death. She has a very cruel older brother and once Ash is healed he tricks him and sells him into slavery on a ship. It takes him 20 years to make his way back and by the time he does, Ash is dead and the Rook has taken his place. He comes back to claim her as his, kill her brother, and kidnap her. She is definitely distraught by his reappearance and the dramatic change. Lorelei has always loved Ash and she can’t except his assertion that Ash is dead and gone, for he is the one she loves. It takes her a good amount of time to come to terms with his harsher persona, but she refuses to give up on him and their love. She sees glimpses, though very brief, of who he was 20 ago and she fights to keep a hold of him now that he is back in her life. A great twist in the plot is the fact that because of the massive beating he took caused him to lose his memory, so he doesn’t know his past or who he really is. Along the way, during their adventure in seeking treasure and a new relationship within the parameters he sets, they come across two men who knew him before the accident and they help him piece together his lost memories. I really enjoyed the two main characters; they are strong, dynamic, and complex. He jumps off the page and the reader truly feels for her in her struggle to earn his love, not just his claim that she is his. It had a strong plot, diverse conflict, was an easy read, and was a great story.
Another terrific story in this series
I really liked this book. The entire series is awesome.
The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo was unlike any historical romance that I have read before. Why do I say that? A few reasons. This book was a lot darker than your usual Victorian romance. The author chose to explore themes that were taboo in that era. She also chose to make the book violent. I can count on one hand where I read a Victorian romance that had violence in it. Usually, those types of books are all sunshine and rainbows. Not this one. This one showcased the darker side of the human nature. And guess what, I loved it!! The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is the story of Lorelei and The Rook (also known as Ash). Ash was left to die on the edge of a road as a teenager. Lorelei, her father, and her brother happened to be riding by in their carriage when Lorelei spots him. He was horrifically injured, lye poured over him. The only thing unmarked was a beautiful dragon tattoo. The stranger, who has no memory of who he is, is renamed Ash by Lorelei. One day he leaves with her older brother, never to return. Instead of saying goodbye, he tells her: “There are only two indisputable facts in this world: The sun will set in the west, and I’ll come for you. Always.” His leaving means that she is now at the mercy of her abusive older brother, who had crippled her as a child. Ash does come back for Lorelei…20 years later. He is not the same boy that Lorelei fell in love with. He is a man with scars on his soul and no memory of who he was before he met Lorelei. He has done horrible things. He has exacted his revenge on the people who held him captive for 15 years. Can Lorelei help Ash regain his memory and heal? Or will she fail to drive out his demons? Ash was damaged. He wasn’t a good guy by any means. He did some pretty awful things in the 20 years he was separated from Lorelei. Even when they were together. But, the author made me feel pity for him. His reaction to Lorelei wanting to be with him was heartbreaking. As was the nightmares that he had. I wanted to reach into the book, hug him and tell him it was going to be ok. I enjoyed watching his interactions with Lorelei but I did feel frustrated with how he treated her at first. My frustration went away in the middle of the book when his internal monologue showed me how much he loved her. By the end of the book, Ash was still as damaged as he was in the beginning. But he was healing and that made me smile. I liked Lorelei. Her rescue of Ash and her help in his recovery was excellent. I could see why Ash fell in love with her. An older Lorelei was amazing. She had been shaped by her life with her brother. Instead of turning into this fearful woman, she was someone who stood up to people. She was the one who made her father and brother stop the carriage. She had a hand in Ash’s recovery. So, I wasn’t that surprised when she discovered that she still had feelings for Ash. She fought for him, which I loved. It wasn’t that she had to compete with another person for his affections. Instead, she fought his demons for him. The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo had some pretty hot sex scenes that weren’t between the main characters. There was intense sexual tension between Veronica and Moncrieff. That whole scene when she was watching him have sex with another woman was insane. Especially when she was getting turned on. Which is why I was surprised when the storyline took the turn it did. I was expecting something different.
~4.5 stars ~ This book had me having all the feels! It was a feast of heart-wrenching, emotive, touching moments. And what’s best, we finally get to know all about the Rook! The opening scene was enough for me to get fully immersed in the story. As the story progressed and details about the Rook’s life were revealed, the story in itself became more and more engrossing. The way he met Lorelai was such a poignant moment. The way they were separated was even sadder. I think at that moment I hated those that separated them almost as much as the Rook did. The Rook was a damaged man indeed. There was a moment when I got upset because sweet Lorelai was being forced to be his salvation; she was being pushed to mend the broken pieces of his soul without regard for what she wanted. Thankfully, that all changed when all secrets were revealed and I finally understood that what drove him was not selfishness, but true, unrelenting love. This story was a beautiful tale of loss, redemption, triumph, and love. The appearance of characters from past books made it all even better and it gave me a sense that the series had come full circle. Oh, and that last scene at the end of the last chapter… *le sigh* It made every sorrow, every battle, every gut-wrenching moment well worth it. Totally worth a re-read. *I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher*
This story makes me realize why I love historical romances and can never read enough. There are not enough adjectives to describe this wonderful book. The author has created a brilliant and intriguing storyline with in depth characters that take you on a journey like no other. It shows how an incident when young can change your life and those of others. Lorelai Weatherstoke found a man by the side of the road almost dead. With no memory of who he is or what happened to him, she gives him the name Ash. Not having much of a will to live with his severe injuries, Lorelai was his encouragement to get well. He knew one day he would come back for her. Both of them had lived through terrible times in their life and really connected. But life and fate gets in the way and it is not until many years later that they meet again. He has again gone through terrible times and the only thing he can hold onto is his Lorelai. So much emotion and angst in this story that had many twist and turns and it held me captive until the end. This is truly one of the best books I have read this year and know I will be thinking about it for awhile. I read this through NetGallery Lori Dykes
THE romance of all time. Two hearts, two souls have spent two decades calling out to each other across time and space. I loved this intelligently written, excellently plotted, and very romantic book. It will be going on my Top Ten For 2018 list. After my disappointment in the last book, The Scot Beds His Wife, I almost decided not to read this book. Boy, what a mistake that would have been. I was also afraid that it was going to be really dark, but, in my opinion, it wasn’t. There were dark things in it, but they were part of the past and were discussed as things from the past – so, not dark or intense in the current time. Ash has absolutely no clue who he is. He lost all memory of his life when he was eighteen years old and was left for dead in a mass grave. He was horribly beaten, broken, bruised and burned from the lye poured upon him to help his corpse quickly decay. Except, he wasn’t dead and managed to crawl from the grave toward the side of the road where an angel saw him and rescued him – her whispered words called him back. Lorelai Weatherstoke is a broken and deformed young lady who, at fourteen, has known her share of pain and injury. Now, she spends her days rescuing injured animals and nursing them back to health – and – trying to avoid her older brother’s cruel abuse. As she, her father and brother are traveling along the road, she sees a naked body along the road and asks her father to stop. They rescue an all-but-dead young man who seems to be expiring as they rush toward a physician. Lorelai removed her cloak and spread it over his shuddering body and then she whispered, “Don’t go. Stay here. With me.” It takes almost a year for Ash to heal, but his memory never returns. Lorelai nurses him just as she does her creatures and they grow closer and closer and although they never say the words, they love each other. She even gave him his name – Ash – from the tree he was lying under when she discovered him. Then, as he was healed it was time for him to make his own way in the world and Lorelai’s brother was taking him to an interview for a job. Lorelai doesn’t want him to go, but knows he needs to do it. He almost tells her that he loves her, but doesn’t voice it and when she expresses concerns about him leaving, he tells her “Lorelai, there are only two indisputable facts in this world: The sun will set in the west, and I’ll come for you. Always.” Those were the last words he said to her for twenty years. Twenty years later, Lorelai’s brother has gambled away both her and their estate to a horrible, cruel man. As Lorelai arrives at the church to marry the loathsome man who won her, she and her sister-in-law are abducted by the infamous pirate – The Rook, and he is insisting she marry him. She recognizes him – it is Ash – her Ash – how can he also be The Rook? She calls him Ash, but he quickly tells her that the boy she knew as Ash is long dead and has been replaced by the monster known as The Rook. Ash has had a horrible, horrible twenty years of slavery, torture, and subjugation. He has buried, killed in his view, every emotion he’s ever had. His heart is black and nothing but ice runs in his veins, but, Lorelai has always called to him. She is what has kept him going. I was absolutely shocked and appalled at all he had gone through. I was amazed that he had come through it with any humanity still intact.
The Victorian Rebels Book 6, Ash 'The Rook' is saved by Lorelei when he ha d been beaten as a young man, she brought him back to health and when he left he said he would be back for her, fast forward 20 years and he kidnaps her from an arranged marriage, that is the only thing I will say about that, the other is that it captured my interest from the start and held it till the end. I received a copy from Netgalley and I am voluntarily leaving my own honest opinion
Her books are all wonderful. They are filled with hot romance, adventure, and atmosphere. I have loved each of them and cannot wait for the next one.
I won this book on Goodreads! Over all, I enjoyed the book. However, I found it to be a bit too dark and a bit too long for me. I did give it 4 stars because I enjoy her writing.