Book Review: It's All About the Duke (The Rakes of St. James) by Amelia Grey

It's All About the Duke is the third book in The Rakes of St. James series by Amelia Grey. I have not read the previous books in the series, but I could still fully enjoy the read. There are some references that will make more sense to those that have been following the series, but newcomers will catch on. 
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?
It's All About the Duke was a mixed bag for me. I liked Marlena's character in some ways, she is independent and resourceful, but naive and foolish. I liked her spunk and willingness to stand up for herself, but sometimes her willingness to overlook some people's faults and failings, but unwillingness to think beyond them for others was a little bothersome- but also completely human and believable. Rath feels bad about how the actions his group made years ago has effected others, but never really looked too deeply to see past the surface to see if they had any lingering negative affects on those involved. I liked the banter between Rath and Marlena, but found them a bit quick and easy with the physical side of the relationship, and considering all the secrets and hard feelings floating around I found it a little off putting. I found some of the reactions of each to alternate between over the top, and dismissive depending on the moment. I still enjoyed the read, but I was not invested in the characters or action- rather felt like I was eavesdropping or watching someone's personal drama unfold in public, with all the dramatic flare of someone looking for attention rather than heartfelt emotion. I usually enjoy this author's work more, and wonder if I was just not in the mood for this style of romance when I picked it up. 
It's All About the Duke is a historical romance with plenty of drama and some quirky characters. I really enjoyed some of the dialogue and interactions, but it fell short of my expectations.

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