After years of deriding the Duke of Rathburne with her scandal sheet, written under a pseudonym, Marlena Fast is stunned when he announces he’s been named her guardian, then flummoxed when she realizes she’s falling in love with him.
Marlena, who was orphaned in childhood, has detested the Duke of Rathburne since he and his friends played a devastating prank on London debutantes and wound up ruining a friend’s life. Seeking to shame the men, Marlena starts a scandal sheet which becomes very popular, then continues the work because it’s supporting two of her friends financially. She’s recently published a book to raise even more income: Miss Honora Truth’s Words of Wisdom and Warning About Rakes, Scoundrels, Rogues, and Libertines. When the Duke of Rathburne turns up on her doorstep, she’s at first convinced he’s discovered her secret, that “he was making it his purpose to take her straight to Newgate, the gallows, or worse—if there was worse.” Instead he’s delivering the surprising news that he’s her new guardian, taking over for his father's closest friend, who's ill. Rath opens aristocratic doors for Marlena and arranges for the sisters of his best friends to take her under their wings, preparing her for a long-delayed debut. Getting to know the people she’s been anonymously vilifying for years leads to conflicted feelings for Marlena when she realizes she likes them and is falling in love with the duke. But how to take care of her friends without the scandal sheet? Sacrificing her own happiness for the well-being of her friends becomes a pivot point, allowing her friends to come to her rescue, which in turn enables Rath to help them help themselves. Grey’s (To the Duke With Love, 2017, etc.) spirited heroine and layered plot keep the reader engaged, with writing that is generally lively but occasionally shifts into cliché.
A pleasantly entertaining read.