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"So what is it about this duke?" // It's All About the Duke by Amelia Grey

by Amelia Grey
Series: The Rakes of St. James #3
Genres: Historical Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 29th 2018
Source: ARC received for review
Rating: ★★★★
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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?

I've never read any of Amelia Grey's previous works before, and It's All About the Duke was a great introduction to her writing because this book charmed from start to finish, and it's all because of the characters.

I love both Rath and Marlena. Marlena especially is totally adorable and she has my heart. She's young and innocent, but I like that she's not a pushover, and she has no problems speaking her mind in Rath's presence. I also love her loyalty to her friends Eugenia and Veronica. I mean, she started a gossip column and wrote a book for them! Although the reason for it was mainly fueled by teenage fury, I still admired her sense of loyalty to her loved ones. I also love her unconventionality, and her relationship with her chaperone, Justine. Justine can be so annoying sometimes, but Marlena is such a sweet-tempered girl, she deals with Justine so calmly. I would have been tempted to cause Justine bodily harm.

The first chapter described Rath as someone older and wiser, a reformed rake. He's a bit mellow now that his two best friends and fellow pranksters have found love and happily settled down. In the first chapter he did a bit of reflecting; he acknowledged that while he was competent with ducal responsibilities, he wasn't the perfect gentleman his father had hoped he would be and he regretted that, especially after the prank he and his friends played on the ladies of the ton a few years back. I really liked how the chapter ended with Rath feeling determined to be the perfect guardian to Marlena, to help her find a husband and marry. 

"He could be a rake if he looks so deeply into your eyes you know he sees all the way to your soul."

The major reason why this book worked for me is Rath and Marlena's relationship development. Marlena especially had some notions about Rath after the whole prank that affected the lives of her friends. She had been dragging his name and the other Rakes of St. James through the mud with her scandal sheet for a few years, so imagine her surprise when they finally met and Rath wasn't a complete ogre of a man. In fact, he was a perfect gentleman??? I love seeing her feeling all sorts of conflicted because Rath turned out to be a...*gasp* nice man??? how is this happening??? and he was apparently not the shameless rake she has her whole column based upon. The more time they spent together the more she liked him, and she started to dread the upcoming Season because the only man she wanted to spend her life with was the man she wasn't supposed to fall for.

Rath was instantly charmed by Marlena from the moment they met. He had no chance; Marlena was super cute and witty, and there was a spark between them in the first meeting. Boy, that did a number on him and his senses too. Like, here is his new ward, of whom he was supposed to look after and see that she married well, and he only wanted her for himself. There is a little hint of forbidden romance in the story because of the whole guardian/ward thing, but overall it was so entertaining to see Marlena and Rath fell in love with each other despite reasons. I sighed at all the stolen moments (and kisses!) they shared.

"I know we shouldn't kissed. It doesn't keep me from wanting to."

Overall, It's All About the Duke has been a fun read, and I'm so glad I requested to read it. Amelia also wrote a HEA for Marlena's friends, and I appreciate that so much because the girls definitely deserved all the happiness. The epilogue had me smiling because it was so satisfying and wrapped up the book perfectly. I'm definitely going to check out Griffin's and Hawk's books next.

*Quotes taken from ARC. 

What's your latest historical romance read?
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