Saturday, June 23, 2007

Desperate Duchesses, Eloisa James

Title: Desperate Duchesses
Author: Eloisa James
Published: 2007, Avon
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 7/10

This is only my second Eloisa James. I read one of the books in her last series (about the four sisters, right?) and I liked it pretty well. Enough for me to buy a couple more of her books for the TBR, but not enough to actually read them. ;) But this one is the start of a new series, so I gave it a shot. And I was really impressed!

Lady Roberta St. Giles is cursed with a rather embarrassing father. He's a poet and has the usual accompanying temperament---he's prone to making emotional scenes and then being made fun of in the gossip columns. When Roberta first sees the Duke of Villiers at a ball, she notes his cool imperturbability and realizes that he would never make a scene or embarrass her. So she decides she must marry him. Roberta travels to London and presents herself to her cousin, Jemma, the Duchess of Beaumont, and asks Jemma to help her ensnare Villiers. Also staying at Beaumont House is Jemma's brother Damon, who turns out to be so much fun to be around that Roberta is a bit torn---does she really want to marry the Duke?

This is a very abbreviated summary as there is a really big cast of characters, all with their own little stories. It is a testament to how well written this book is that even though I didn't really like any of the characters for the first hundred pages or so, I still couldn't put it down. Roberta's desire to marry Villiers seems so idiotic and Jemma comes off as cold and a bit manipulative. But both characters grew on me after a while.

Damon was the other reason I kept reading; he is wonderful, a sort of happy-go-lucky kind of guy whose off-handedness and humility do little to hide his obvious intelligence and kindness. And his son was hilarious---not your usual romanticized little angel at all.

The historical details here are very interesting, though I could have done without some of the chess (Jemma is a chess master and challenges both Villiers and her husband to matches---overly long matches, imo). But this book also was surprisingly funny. Cleverly witty in a very good way. The dialogue overall was so well done.

I adored the last three paragraphs! I often cringe at the very end of romance novels, because while I love the HEA, there are only so many ways of saying "they lived happily ever after" without sounding like a cheeseball. This one is lovely.

This book has me thinking I should really pull those other James books out of the TBR. :)


Mailyn said...

sounding like a cheeseball. LOL!

That name Roberta, yikes, I can't help but think her rather manly. This sounds interesting and I'm glad the kid didn't interfere. Me and kids in adult novels usually don't get along well.

Jennie said...

I usually don't care for kids in books too much either, but this one was funny. And the dad had such a realistic attitude about him---yeah, he's often smelly and a pain in the ass, but well, you just love him anyway cuz he's your kid. :)

Mailyn said...

LMAO! Smelly?! Hehehe.

Li said...

Arrrghhh... I just hit Submit and my rather long-winded comment vanished.

Anyway - summary of what I wanted to say: I thought DD was very classic EJ. Large ensemble-type story with less focus on the main h/h compared to other authors, slightly unexpected storyline - the obvious pairing for Roberta didn't happen...

I liked Jemma and I hope she gets the HEA I want for her - i.e. the obvious one :-)

And I loved the final chapter and the epilogue.

Jennie said...

She does have less focus on the H/H than most romance authors, which is really cool, I think. It's certainly different. And it is unexpected--I didn't read the cover blurb for this one (I hardly ever do) so I didn't really know who the hero was at first and for the first fifty pages or so I thought...well, you know what I thought (I don't want to give spoilers for anyone). Made for some interesting reading. :D

I will read the rest of the series just to see the rest of Jemma's story---I wonder when it will be resolved? She's not going to draq it out over the whole series, is she?! I hope not. ;)