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Clever alliteration aside, the title is just a touch misleading. While the dragon tattoo is both real and an integral part of the story, this Victorian romp is less high society and Almack’s and more pirates and treasure hunts. Which is actually a lot more fun, but not really what I was expecting.
The Rook is the most notorious pirate on the high seas. So when he turns up at Lorelai’s undesired wedding and kills both her groom and her abusive brother before whisking her off to his ship, she could be forgiven for going into a state of total catatonic shock.
But Lorelai knew The Rook long ago, when he was just a boy with no memory and no name, near death from brutal wounds. She nursed him back to health and named him Ash, and though he had to leave her, he promised he’d return, no matter what. It’s just taken him twenty years, and what he’d survived and endured would break any man, much less a boy already sorely wounded.
There are mentions of past abuse both physical and sexual in the story, and Ash has had to become brutal and merciless in order to become the man he is today. He doesn’t know any other way to be, even with Lorelai, but something holds him in check when he’s with her.
I admit I was briefly concerned this might turn a bit rapey, but thankfully Ash stopped himself before letting his baser instincts overwhelm him. Seeing the alpha-est of alpha males brought low by a woman as gentle as Lorelai was definitely a treat.
There was a fairly large plot hole regarding Moncrieff, Ash’s first mate, which I suspect was setting him up for a book of his own, but I have to say I hope he doesn’t get one. It’s always a hazard setting up a ‘villain’ for a future story, because you have to be careful he doesn’t cross specific lines, and Moncrieff went just that little bit too far. I honestly thought it would have been easier to wrap up The Rook's storyline with a conveniently dead pirate.
Despite its flaws, I really did enjoy the read and therefore I’m giving it four stars.
I was invited to review this book by the publisher, St. Martin's Press, who have also generously allowed me to share a giveaway with you! Check out the form below for a chance to win a paperback copy of The Duke With The Dragon Tattoo (US readers only, I'm afraid).