Review of “Day of the Duchess” (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean

MacLean, Sarah. The Day of the Duchess. New York: Avon Books, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-237943-6. Print List Price: $7.99.

4.5 stars

In doing my recent reread of some of Sarah’s older titles, I began to notice some of the things I found lacking or just personally unappealing in her earlier work, and until recently, she was definitely more of a hit-or-miss with me.

But her charming Scandal & Scoundrel series led me to fall in love with her work again last year, and despite my misgivings regarding Haven’s behavior in The Rogue Not Taken, I picked it up on release day, and finished it within half a day.

And it is amazing.

In The Rogue Not Taken, the perception most readers likely got of Haven was that of a scoundrel without morals who didn’t care about his wife. But we see in this book that there’s a lot more that went on beneath the surface. His mother was a commoner who managed to snare a duke, and the circumstances that led to his own marriage to Sera were eerily similar. But he does truly love her, despite everything.

Another plus for this book is that we get to see more of Sera’s sisters, who were staples in the other books in the series. Sera’s relationship with her sisters is so wonderful, and it is also sweet to see how their relationship with Haven has evolved since the Incident in book one.

Fan favorite Sesily has a budding romance with American Caleb Calhoun that is a mini-subplot in this book, and possibly the setup for the upcoming Sesily novella? I found this quite funny because I used to watch the show Bates Motel, and there was a character on that show of the same name.

And for more in most likely unintentional pop culture references: Haven’s first name is Malcolm, but many times throughout the book, he is referred to as Mal, and I every time I saw that name on the page, an image of Dove Cameron in Disney’s Descendants popped in my head (the curse of having teenage sisters).

But while her craftsmanship of sympathetic characters has definitely improved,  I did notice a lapse into her old habit of over-using certain words, such as “ass,” and this time she uses for two different things, such as in reference to how Haven landed in the fishpond, as well as to his behavior, the former a bit too often for my liking. I understand that the Talbot sisters didn’t have a genteel upbringing, but surely Haven should have a bigger vocabulary than that? But this is not something that completely takes away from the story. and I would still recommend this to anyone who loves a good second-chance romance.