Stacy's Place on Earth
Blog Home Change to Small Font Change to Large Font
Monday, November 03, 2008:
Quickie reviews: The Desperate Duchesses far (by Eloisa James)
Eloisa James is an author who is hit or miss for me. For example, I loved "Much Ado About You" and "Kiss Me Annabel" from the Essex Sisters series, but not so much "The Taming of the Duke" or "Pleasure for Pleasure". Still, I tend to give her the benefit of the doubt, especially when I hear other readers (i.e. Michelle Buonfiglio & Colleen Gleason) talk about their books. They intrigued me with their talk of a character by the name of Villiers, and just what might happen involving his character and a significant female character. The conversation got me so interested that I just had to see for myself what all the fuss was about.
First off in the series is "Desperate Duchesses".....
May 29, 2007
ISBN 0060781939
A marquess's sheltered only daughter, Lady Roberta St. Giles falls in love with a man she glimpses across a crowded ballroom: a duke, a chess player of consummate skill, a notorious rake who shows no interest in marriage -- until he lays eyes on Roberta.

Yet the Earl of Gryffyn knows too well that the price required to gain a coronet is often too high. Damon Reeve, the earl, is determined to protect the exquisite Roberta from chasing after the wrong destiny.

Can Damon entice her into a high-stakes game of his own, even if his heart is likely to be lost in the venture?
This book talked A LOT about chess. I don't play chess, don't care for chess, and don't want to learn about chess, so there was a lot of yawning going on. We do meet some interesting characters: the aforementioned Villiers, who is a complete and utter rake and cares only for his own pleasures. And the duke and duchess of Beaumont: Elijah and Jemma. Jemma has just returned from Paris, where she has been carrying on for years. Elijah is a respected politician in the House of Lords. Both of them, as well as Beaumont's former friend Villiers, are madly absorbed with chess.
One day, Roberta shows up at the Beaumont residence under false pretenses, but Jemma immediately takes the young woman under her wing, having discovered that Roberta is madly in love with the disreputable Villiers, and so she decides to help her.
Damon, Jemma's brother, on the other hand, has a difficult time believing that Roberta could be happy with such a selfish, spoiled man, and sets out to distract her from Villiers. Roberta discovers she rather likes the way Damon kisses and touches her. She may be in love with Villiers but Damon is quite wonderful in his own way, and sometimes the heart changes its mind half-way through the game...
I was more interested in the secondary characters than I was in Damon and Roberta. Oh they could be cute, especially when they were so fascinated with each other, but there was so much talk of chess and strategy and it all rather bored me. Really, I didn't care what happened to Roberta (or her annoying father) or Damon (though he sounded rather adorable. And to be honest, I read this a few months ago and I don't remember all that much about it. I didn't like Jemma or Villiers very much either, and Beaumont came across as a pompous jerk.
Rating: *** 3/4 out of *****
November 13, 2007
ISBN 0061245542
One spectacular Christmas, Lady Perdita Selby, known to her friends and family as Poppy, met the man she thought she would love forever. The devilishly attractive Duke of Fletcher was the perfect match for the innocent, breathtakingly beautiful young Englishwoman, and theirs was the most romantic wedding she had ever seen. Four years later, Poppy and the Duke have become the toast of the ton... but behind closed doors it seems the spark of their love affair has burnt out.
Unwilling to lose the woman he still lusts after, the duke is determined to win back his beguiling brides delectable affections . . . and surpass the heady days of first love with a truly sinful seduction.
This book I liked a little better, though I knew it wasn't going to be the best right from the beginning, when Poppy didn't even like the way Fletch (her fiance' at the time) tried to kiss her. And she kept talking about her mother, who taught her from a young age that marital relations are disgusting. Right then and there I thought "uh oh". And things didn't get better through 4 years of marriage. She just didn't enjoy the marriage bed, through her husband adored her and was very attracted to her. Yet Poppy felt she had a good marriage, not realizing the frustration (quite literally) that her husband was feeling.
So much so that one evening, fed up with being rejected, decides it's time to take a mistress. He approaches a beautiful woman at a ball one evening, and their attraction is definitely mutual, though cut short when Poppy comes along and realizes that her husband is looking to stray...with her good friend. Both are immediately contrite, but Poppy is furious with her husband. With the help of her controlling and meddlesome mother, Poppy decides to leave Fletch and go live with her friend, the scandalous Jemma. Her mother isn't thrilled with her choice of friends, but feels that she can make an acception as Jemma is a duchess after all. Poppy believes in her heart of hearts that Fletch will come for her.
Only he doesn't. Intimidated by his mother-in-law yet too proud and angry to go after his wife and believing she will soon return home, Fletch sets about obtaining that mistress after all. Only he realizes that he truly does love his wife, and he cannot go through with it. Now he must try and figure out a way to win back his wife, and even find a way to make her feel attracted to him.
I began to actually like Jemma and Elijah and even Villiers, who is dreadfully ill. We see glimpses of Jemma's sadness when she discovered, newly married, that her husband had a mistress. We see a bit of regret in Elijah, though he never says the words to his wife. We even see Villiers, weak and helpless, yet also more human. He seems to realize, as he almost dies, just what he has, and doesn't have in his life.
I liked Poppy and Fletch, and wished they could find a way back to each other. I didn't like her overbearing mother one bit though, and was waiting for either Fletch or even Poppy to smack her, but neither of them did. I found part of the reason for Poppy's lack of desire to be interesting, but also a bit silly. I guess it could be possible, but to not even enjoy your husband's kisses? I don't know.
The information about the hairstyles back in the day was rather interesting, though not something I wish to contemplate. I was amused by Poppy's fascination with "curiosities", and found some of them interesting, while others I found grotesque. I also liked that not so much of this book was about chess. I was quite relieved by that.
Rating: **** out of *****
June 24, 2008
ISBN 0061245577
Harriet, Duchess of Berrow, is desperate to flee the sadness of being a widow. Whether presiding over the Shire Court of the Duchy of Berrow, or dressed as a prim Mother Goose at an extravagant masquerade ball thrown by one of her wicked friends, Harriet’s in a rut. And she’s beginning to long for something altogether different.

It’s time for a complete change of pace – she will throw off her widow’s weeds and escape…to the famously dissolute house party held at Lord Strange’s country estate? But no duchess can appear at one of Strange’s parties without risking her reputation forever. So when the Duke of Villiers offers to accompany Harriet, she jumps at the chance – even if it means disguising herself as a young man.
Isidore, Duchess of Cosway, is bored. Her darling husband hasn't been to England in years, in fact I don't think she's ever seen him, and after all this time, she decides she wants a child. With her husband. But the maddening man is nowhere to be found. She decides the only way to bring him home is to cause a scandal. She decides to attend one of the wild and wicked parties hosted by Lord Strange. But she cannot go alone. Jemma refuses to go with her as she's promised her husband not to cause any further scandal, and going alone with Villiers is out of the question.
So when Harriet, tired of being a staid and widowed duchess, decides to accompany her disguised as a man, the stage is set. Harriet is a pretty man, feminine and way too young-looking. In fact many of the other guests decide he must be a molly, and therefore steer clear of him. But "Harry" is determined to see this through, and ends up spending a lot of time with Lord Strange, who is reluctantly drawn to young Harry, but determined to make a man out of him by teaching him how to ride and how to fence. These things don't come easily for a gently bred lady, but Harriet finds she really enjoys the freedoms of being a man. That is until she finds herself strongly attracted to Lord Strange and is unable to hide her feelings. Fortunately for them both, Strange figures it out, and they blissfully give into the overwhelming attraction between them. Only Jem (Lord Strange) doesn't know that Harriet is not a country widow but rather a duchess, and when he finally discovers the truth, will he be able to handle it?
I think this is definitely my favorite of the three books so far. Harriet knows that, even while acting the part of a man and being free to do as she pleases, one day she'll eventually have to go back to her boring existence, because that is who she truly is. Jem is head over heels in love with Harry, but not sure if he can grow up and give up his licentious pursuits in order to be with his duchess, even though there is his young daughter to consider. He feels betrayed, she feels second-rate to his lifestyle. Both much eventually come to terms with the other before they can find their HEA.
Rating: **** 1/4 out of *****
So far it's not a bad series, and I'm willing to stick it out to find out what will happen to Jemma, Elijah and Villiers. But first we must discover what happens with Isidore and her long-lost hubby, who's finally returned to England to fulfill his obligations.
Stay tuned....
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (November 25, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0061245607
ISBN-13: 978-0061245602

The Duchess of Cosway yearns for a man she has never met . . . her husband.
Married by proxy as a child, Lady Isidore has spent years fending off lecherous men in every European court while waiting to meet her husband. She's determined to accept him, no matter how unattractive the duke turns out to be. When she finally lures Simeon Jermyn back to London, his dark handsomeness puts Isidore's worst fears to rest—until disaster strikes.
The duke demands an annulment.
Forsaking his adventuresome past, Simeon has returned to London ready to embrace the life of a proper duke, only to find that his supposed wife is too ravishing, too headstrong, and too sensual to be the docile duchess he has in mind. But Isidore will not give up her claim to the title—or him—without a fight.
She will do whatever it takes to capture Simeon's heart, even if it means sacrificing her virtue. After all, a consummated marriage cannot be annulled.
Yet in forcing Simeon into a delicious surrender, will Isidore risk not only her dignity—but her heart?
Eloisa James: hit or miss?
Why/why not?



  1. Miss.

    At least for me. I get that her books are romance for smart chicks and that she uses a ton of wonderful literary devices.

    She is an "everything and the kitchen sink" writer. Too much action, scenes too drawn out, too many couples.

    The last book of hers that I really loved was Kiss Me Annabelle. Nothing since has really worked for me. The last book of hers I bought was Desperate Duchesses and I'm sorry to say it's the last I'll purchase.

    I will say this though, I love Eloisa! I think she's tremendously smart and has a lovely personality. Her writing just isn't for me.

  2. I basically just need to say ditto to what Kati has said.

    I feel like I should love her, but I rally struggle with her books. The last one that I really loved was Kiss Me Annabelle too. I think because the main couple were away from everyone else for most of the book and so there wasn't so much else going on all the time!

    The thing with her books as well is that I always tend to enjoy the secondary romance that she threads through her stories more than I do the main story which just doesn't seem right. It happened with the Duchess series when I only really wanted to read about Sebastian and Esme! Couldn't even tell you who the main characters were in at least one book in that series!

    So, to summarise, I do keep on trying her books to see if one of these days I will get her or not, but I don't spend my hard earned on it! I borrow them from the library instead.

  3. Aha. I read the first two and agree. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

  4. Kati, I think you nailed it. I do think she's very smart and likable, but her books haven't been working for me for awhile either. I'm still going to buy the next one, since I NEED to know what's going to happen to Isidore, and then Jemma, Villiers & Elijah.

    Marg, I hear ya. She's too cerebral for me. I don't find her books very romantic. They're not bad, just not my thing.

    Toni, I am too. I will finish it, but not sure that I'll pick up another EJ again.

  5. Hit, mostly.

    I think the Duchesses series is improving as it goes. Maybe because the world is more established? I don't know...the books seem to be flowing better as they go along.

Post a Comment