Friday, July 31, 2009


A DUKE OF HER OWN by Eloisa James (Published by Avon Books, July 28, 2009)

If you are a fan of Eloisa James' "Desperate Dutchesses" series, RUN, DO NOT WALK, to pick up "A Duke of Her Own."

Throughout each one of Ms. James wonderful "Desperate Dutchesses" books, set in the Georgian era England, one character has tantalized and teased her readers from the beginning. Sometimes poignant, sometimes tragic, but always outrageous and irreverent, Leopold, The Duke of Villiers has been a character who has impacted, either directly or indirectly, each storyline and character in this incredible series.

How to describe the enigmatic Villiers? One of the top chess players in England (indeed, it seemed his one true love), famous for drifting from one woman to another in countless affairs resulting in six illegitimate children, one of the wealthiest men in England, certainly not known for his beauty, his looks were more akin to a buccaneer - very male and virile looking - yet his very presence and attitude proclaims him a Duke. His contemporaries wear powdered wigs, while Villiers does not. Always impeccably dressed, his cravat perfectly tied and formed, lace always just so, Villiers is refined and extremely intelligent. Villiers was once involved in a duel defending his fiance's honor. He lost both the duel and his fiance and then almost his life as a result of his wounds.

For years, Villiers had been paying his solicitor to make sure all of his six illegitimate children were educated and well cared for. After an attack of conscience, he decides to collect them all and bring them to his home. Then, he will marry and provide a mother for his children. Being Villiers, of course, he has certain standards for the mother of his children. One of those requirements is that she be a daughter of a Duke. However before he can begin his search for a wife, he is horrified to learn that all these years his solicitor has been keeping the money designated for his children's welfare and had disbursed them to places unknown. After investigating and searching, he thinks he has finally located the last of his two children, twin daughters. Just before leaving to seek out his last two children and investigate a potential mate, Lady Lisette, he meets another Duke's daughter, Lady Eleanor Lindel.

Lady Eleanor Lindel once proclaimed that she would only marry a Duke. Hiding behind frumpy dresses and with little or no care to her appearance, Eleanor is really hiding a broken heart. For it was years ago, she lost her heart to her childhood friend, Gideon, Duke of Astley, when he married another. Resigned not to become an ape leader and spinster, she resolves to marry and agrees to meet the Duke of Villiers. Intelligent and spirited, Eleanor is a match for Villiers' rapier wit and lively repartee. Intrigued by Villiers, she agrees to meet him again at the home of another of her childhood friends, Lady Lisette, with the full knowledge that he will be scoping out the reclusive Lady Lisette as a potential mate. However, Eleanor is not worried because she knows a secret about Lady Lisette that she believes Villiers will discover himself. And, so, the story begins.

The Duke of Villiers' story has been highly anticipated throughout Ms. James' "Desperate Dutchesses" series. IMHO, Ms. James surpassed every expectation I could have had for his story. The romance between Villiers and Eleanor is touching and endearing, but one fraught with several bumps in the road. I was so happy to see, and it was very satisfying to watch, Villiers find the love he never sought, but found. As always, Ms. James writing style is extraordinary, combining style and wit with grace. Her books are always a treat, but I believe her "Desperate Dutchesses" series will shine as one her greatest works for a long time to come. On the one hand, I was sad to see the series end. But, on the other hand, I can savor each delicious book in this amazing series again and again. Thank you, Ms. James, for creating such a memorable, heartwarming and wickedly entertaining series. They are keepers, one and all. ;)

If you haven't read Eloisa James' the "Desperate Dutchess" series yet, they are, in order: "Desperate Dutchess," "An Affair Before Christmas," "Dutchess by Night," "When the Duke Returns," "This Dutchess of Mine," and "A Duke of Her Own." Do yourself a great favor and pick them up. You will soon become ensconced in hours of heavenly reading and will come to treasure these books as I do.