Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on May 29th 2018
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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?
He could be a rake if he appears at your door unannounced and expects you to receive him.
Miss Honora Truth’s Words of Wisdom and Warning About Rakes, Scoundrels, Rogues, and Libertines
Any man who boasted he had no regrets was a liar as far as Rath was concerned. If anyone should know, it would be him. He’d had plenty before and since he became the Duke of Rathburne more than five years ago. Though, like most of his ilk, he’d long denied having such a weak trait. Yet it was impossible not to when a man had lived as recklessly as Rath had.
Coming to that confounding conclusion hadn’t been easy, but it was why he now found himself standing in the frosty air in front of a modest house in St. James, oddly enough, not far from his own townhome, watching a maid digging about in what was probably a recently planted kitchen garden.
A month ago, after no short amount of drink, Rath, who’d never sought redemption for his wicked ways, had experienced a change of heart. Of sorts. He’d penned a letter accepting the role of guardian for the young lady who lived beyond the door not thirty paces away. At the time of his sudden epiphany, his muddled, jug-bitten brain had thought a little penitence might be justified. After all, he’d been carrying around a fair amount of guilt for a man who hadn’t yet made it to his thirtieth birthday.
It was Rath who’d suggested the unforgettable secret admirer wager that years later still haunted him and his two friends, Griffin and Hawk. At the time, he’d considered himself a lucky man not to have a sister to marry off, as was his friends’ misfortune. That situation had changed overnight when his father’s boyhood friend, who’d recently become extremely ill, asked Rath to take over the guardianship of his longtime ward and see her suitably wed. His first reaction had been no.
But then he thought maybe he owed it to his father to say yes to the old man. Rath had never done much his father approved of during his lifetime—well, except learn how to properly care for the dukedom and keep it prosperous. Perhaps doing this favor for his father’s dearest friend would rectify some of Rath’s misspent youth.
He remembered Miss Marlena Fast, and the memory wasn’t an altogether pleasant one. The only time Rath had seen her, she’d had unruly golden-red hair and scuffed elbows as she’d glanced up at him with big green eyes, mesmerized by him—he’d thought at that moment—only to then have her thrust a frog in his face. That had been when she was twelve.
Ruffian girls rarely, if ever, became decorous young ladies. Unless Miss Fast had changed—for the better— since he’d last seen her, there was little hope any of the eligible peers would offer for her hand. Rath might have to pad her dowry quite handsomely. Which he would do. That was preferable to remaining responsible for her welfare past the upcoming Season.
He’d had no interest in taking on the task of being her guardian and seeing to her future, until the night he’d found himself alone and blurry-minded when he came to the bottom of a brandy bottle. He’d reasoned that Griffin and Hawk had paid a price for what they’d done years ago and it could have been much higher than it was. Now it was time for Rath to do something. But there was no use going over that night again. The deed was done, and he had to carry through. While he couldn’t make amends to the young ladies he’d embarrassed with the secret admirer letters that went wrong, he could help Miss Fast make a suitable marriage. And perhaps in some small way atone for them, and make up to his father for never being the proper gentleman he’d always expected his son to be.
Rath turned his attention to the front door again. He might as well get this over with. He’d always succeeded in everything he set his mind to, and he intended to triumph in this challenge as well.
Copyright © 2018 by Amelia Grey and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.
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~~Reviewed by Shell~~
Amelia Grey is a new author to me, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I hadn’t realised was this is the third book in the Rakes of St James series. I found you can read this book as a standalone, there was enough of a back story without wondering what had gone on in the previous books.
At some point we’ve all had a friend where a prank was played on them and for whatever reason you’ve thought that you would get that person back. For me this is a no, but for Marlena she has done this…but then the tables get turned on her and she very nearly loses the one she loves.
I enjoyed reading this book, its a troupe that I have read before and I will go back and read the first two books. I did like the humour, which for me is a big plus. There was one character that got on my nerves that was Justine, for me she was a little over the top.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers’ copy of this book.