About the Book:
Nearing thirty, the Duke of Rathburne is finally ready to make amends for the wager that caused him and his best friends such scandal―but taking on a ward who needs a husband is a feat he’s not sure he can manage. The last he saw of Miss Marlena Fast, she was a spirited little ruffian, not the sort of bride most bachelors on the marriage mart sought. But one glance at the lovely lady she has become is enough to convince him otherwise…
Orphaned young and shuffled from family to family, Marlena counts on her fierce independence and quick wits to keep herself content. Being the responsibility of a notoriously wicked duke who upended so many lives is an unexpected challenge when she realizes he arouses her decidedly feminine desires. Marlena must be careful. She has her own scandalous secret to protect. If he finds out, will it shatter her chances of a happily-ever-after with the notorious rake?
Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link: It’s All About the Duke: The Rakes of St. James
“Rath,” the Duke of Rathburne, is one of a trio of dukes who took part in what was supposed to be a secret wager years ago. Unfortunately, the secret leaked out, embarrassing the twelve young debutantes who were the subject of the wager. Though the three dukes regretted their actions, they were relieved that there appeared to be no lasting harm or consequences to any of the young ladies. Then, years later, the wager was brought up again in a scandal sheet, written by a mysterious “Miss Honora Truth,” who refuses to let the old scandal die.
The author of the posts written as Honora Truth is Marlena Fast, an orphan, who is under the guardianship of a close friend of Rath’s deceased father. While living with her chaperone and cousin, Justine, Marlena became friends with her neighbors, one of whom was one of the debutantes targeted by the dukes’ infamous wager. At the time, Veronica was so shaken by the scandal, that she hastily accepted a proposal and married a man who has not made her very happy. Now Veronica’s life is poor, childless, and she battles depression. Marlena began writing her column as a way to achieve a measure of revenge for Veronica, as well as giving her any funds that the column earns.
A strange coincidence causes Rath and Marlena to meet, although he did meet her briefly when she was a tomboyish youngster. Marlena’s guardian becomes very ill, and he calls on Rath, using his friendship with Rath’s father as leverage, to implore him to take over the guardianship of Marlena, who is now almost twenty. In a weak, and admittedly, inebriated moment, Rath agrees. When he comes to call on Marlena, she is initially terrified that her alter ego has been found out and he has come to punish her.
While under Rath’s guardianship, Marlena quickly discovers that he is kind, courteous, generous, and ever so patient with her horrible chaperone, Justine. Although known as a rake, Rath doesn’t dally with innocent ladies, so he may flirt with Marlena, but he does not take any liberties. However, if Marlena were to kiss him first, that would be a whole different story….
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DUKE tells the charming story of Rath and Marlena falling slowly in love and acting on their passionate feelings. There is not a lot of conflict or problems until their affair becomes serious, and Marlena realizes she has to confess her secret. Both of these characters are likeable — Marlena is mature for a young lady who’s never been in society, and she’s quick to see how she may have misjudged Rath. He, in turn, hardly seems rakish, but rather an honorable, generous, sexy man. Some comic relief is provided by Justine, who is truly awful, while living in the past, but determined to squeeze every penny out of the present. I’d recommend IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DUKE for historical romance fans looking for a more low key story without a lot of high drama. I found it easy reading, enjoyable, and delightful. ~Rose