This is the third book in Amelia Grey’s Rakes of St. James trilogy. The Duke of Rathburne is the third and last of the notorious bachelors who, years ago, played a prank on twelve young debutantes which led to the girls being ostracised from society. Being dukes, and male, they never really had to suffer any consequences beyond guilt… and regular evisceration by the pen of Miss Honoria Truth, writer of a scandal sheet with a particular hatred for the three rakes.
The very last person Marlena Fast ever thought likely to become her new guardian was the notorious duke. But there he is, on her doorstep, large as life and twice as handsome, telling her he’s there to help launch her Season and help her find a husband.
How on earth will he react if he finds out her secret identity as Miss Honoria Truth?
Marlena and her friends panicking about Rath’s reactions if he should find out about Miss Truth were honestly hilarious. They were easily my favourite parts of the book, along with Marlena’s soul-searching when she came face to face with some of the people featured in her scandal sheet and discovers how nice they are. Everything about Marlena was delightful, from her fierce loyalty to her friends to her somewhat naive honesty. Frankly, Rath seemed far too old and jaded for her; his ‘becoming staid’ just read like he was bored with his old entertainments and looking for something fresh and new.
The thing that really bothers me, I suppose, is that Rath and his friends never did have to suffer anything more than a mildly guilty conscience. One of the characters in the novel being one of the debutantes whose reputation they damaged so long ago showed very clearly that actions can have major consequences, and they did do significant damage with their thoughtlessness. I have difficulty believing that not one single enraged father, brother or suitor called them out and shot them for their entitled, disgraceful behaviour.
Or perhaps that was just my wishful thinking. Realistically, men in positions of power getting away with bad behaviour without repercussions is a very current topic at the moment, and reading about it in a fictional story set 200 years ago - however realistic it might be - just feels a bit depressing, as though nothing has changed in all that time. There’s no emotional payoff for the reader, no visceral feeling of satisfaction when bad behaviour is rewarded as Rath’s was.
While this is well written, it left me feeling really kind of depressed. No antagonist was defeated, nobody got their comeuppance for behaving badly. Rath behaved exactly as he’s always done and got exactly what he always has… everything he wanted, which was something he didn’t deserve. I didn’t hate this, but I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it either. Three stars.
It's All About The Duke is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.