Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Rakes of St. James #3
Publication Date: 5/29/18
I enjoyed this third and final book in the Rakes of St. James series. The series is based on a really lame scandal, but the books are all nice reads even if they are a bit prosy. You can read each as a stand-alone if you wish to do so. I loved the last names of all of the heroines in the three books – Swift, Quick and Fast.
The big scandal is a wager made by three young friends – all dukes. They would write ‘secret admirer’ letters to all twelve of the debutants who were in their first season. The letters would say that they had long admired the lady and hoped she would meet them at a certain place and time. Whichever of the dukes had the most ladies actually show up would win the bet. When all twelve of the ladies show up and word of the wager and the ladies all going to the meeting places leaks out – well – SCANDAL. The dukes immediately felt remorseful, but there wasn’t anything they could do to change things. Someone decides that the duke should be punished for what they did and starts a scandal column that only talks about the scandal and the dukes.
Rath, Duke of Rathburne, was the one who suggested the cursed wager and he’s felt guilty about it ever since. He’s come to a point in his life, he’s almost thirty, where he feels he should become the gentleman his father always wanted him to be. I know he was described as a rake and scoundrel throughout the book, but frankly, I just didn’t see it. Yes, he had mistresses and widows on occasion, but he wasn’t a letch and he didn’t chase innocent ladies. Seems he was just a normal gentleman of the time – and maybe better than most.
When Rath received a letter from Mr. Olingworth, a very good friend of Rath’s father, his first inclination was to turn down the request it contained. Then, after he has finished a bottle, he pens a letter to Mr. Olingworth saying that he agrees to be the guardian of Miss Marlena Fast. When he awakens the next morning, he regrets penning his acceptance, but it is too late – the letter is already in the post – thanks to his efficient new butler. Mr. Olingworth is quite ill and can no longer properly see to Marlena’s care. Rath had met Marlena once when she was about twelve and holding a frog. He was sure it was going to be a challenge because ‘ruffian girls rarely, if ever, become decorous young ladies’.
Marlena Fast has been an orphan since shortly after she was born. She’s been passed from place to place and never had a real home that was hers. First, she lived with an aunt and uncle, then Mr. Olingworth, then her cousin Justine. Now, it seems, she is being passed on again – into someone else’s care. But, it can’t be – not HIM – one of the Rakes of St. James. He’s one of the despised men who helped make her friend’s life miserable – she can’t be his ward.
I liked both Marlena and Rath and I liked the way their insta-lust grew into solid attraction and love. Now, I’ll be honest – I did skim-read some of those long prosy descriptions/conversations – but it was still a good read. The book often refers to the conversations as banter, but I think more often than not it was either bickering or arguing – there is some lovely banter too because they both had quick wits and a lovely sense of humor.
The secondary characters are a hit-or-miss bunch. I loved the other Dukes of St. James and their families that made an appearance – especially Lady Vera. Then, there are Marlena’s best friends, Eugenia and Veronica, I never did like them – they seemed more like users than friends to me. They did, however, redeem themselves a little in the end – well, Eugenia did anyway. When it comes to Marlena’s cousin, Justine, well – nobody has enough time, space or energy to deal with her!
One of my favorite scenes is of Rath in a ladies shop – he was looking for smelling salts. Yes – where else would you go to buy something ladies use except Miss Lola’s Lacy Linens? His interactions with Miss Lola and then a couple of unexpected customers are delightful. Definitely shows his humor and irreverence.
We also finally unmask Miss Honora Truth, the person who has been taunting the dukes in a scandal sheet for the last three years. Will her identity surprise you? Probably not – but it sure surprised the duke!
If you are looking for a hold-your-breath, action-packed read, this isn’t it. But if you are looking for a nice, steady read of two people coming together, finding love and dealing with obstacles, then you have found a good one here.
Please check out my reviews at:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flippinpages…
“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”