Saturday, 8 January 2011

Review: When the Duke Returns by Eloisa James

For the Duke of Cosway, it was a marriage of convenience. For his bride, it was anything but... 
Isidore has waited for many long, frustrating years for her mysterious husband to return from exploring the world. They were married by proxy when she was just a child, but now she’s fully grown and yearns for nothing more than for her Duke to return. 
Until he does come back. And he is not what she expected. At all. 
Not only does he refuse to conform to any of society’s norms: he won’t powder his hair, has little regard for cravats, and seems frighteningly keen on running around the countryside in nothing but short trousers. But – more shocking than any other revelation – he reveals that he is a virgin. 
There is an undeniable attraction though, and while Isidore tries to establish whether this Duke was actually worth waiting for, Cosway himself begins to discover that there may be more adventures in marriage than in all of the rest of the world...

I adore the Desperate Duchesses series, and if you haven’t tried them yet, get to it! I am sucker for romance, anything from modern day chick lit to Eloisa James’ period romance – they always follow patterns, which isn’t at all boring or predictable, it just means that you know there will always be a happily ever after. And quite frankly, we need as many of those as we can get. However, I’m very picky about those that I do like – for example, whilst I will be the first to admit I love a bit of steaminess, I’m not all that fussed on some of the outrageously explicit scenes you can get in some books. So I choose my romances with care.

Eloisa James is high up on my list of loves – she knows just how to write my most delicious kind of romance. Gorgeous guys? Check. Feisty well dressed women? Check. Witty banter? Check. Intelligent plots and writing? Check.
How could you not love that?

James writes intelligent plots, with steamy scenes that will have any girl weak at the knees, and combines that with humour and well drawn characters. ‘When The Duke Returns’ is no exception, as the fourth book in the series, it draws on characters we have already grown to love and understand, adding a sprinkling of new ones to keep everything fresh. I will admit that I love when the books are set in London, as I love the social whirl that comes with the capital – however, being set at Cosway’s ancestral home doesn’t detract in the slightest. It offers a secluded bubble for the romance to blossom in – and it’s an unconventional one at that.

This series is full of unconventional romances, and I think that’s one of the advantages that sets it apart from others in the genre. Isidore and Cosway are already married, a fact that Isidore has known since she was twelve, and has never questioned or strayed, despite not knowing her husband. Cosway on the other hand, is an arrogant fool who wants an annulment simply because Isidore is a feistier wife than he had imagined. I do want to shake him from time to time for attempting to be such a calm island of serenity, when he should be getting off his high horse and making Isidore feel loved and appreciated for who she is. He frustrated me, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story, it simply heightened it, and proved once again what a good writer Eloisa James is for creating flawed and believable characters, who the reader can still relate to and love.

I also enjoy the interweaving stories of the other character’s – for example Jemma and Elijah have their own moments where they move forward in their relationship, aided and abetted by the devilish Villiers. I have to say I can’t wait to have another book more focused on these three and their relationships. It began in ‘Desperate Duchesses’ and will continue in the fifth book ‘This Duchess of Mine’

If you haven’t discovered this series, then they are the perfect way to ease yourself into period romance if you haven’t tried it yet, or to continue your education if you have. In order, the series is ‘Desperate Duchesses’ ‘An Affair Before Christmas’ ‘Duchess by Night’ ‘When the Duke Returns’ ‘This Duchess of Mine’ and ‘A Duke of Her Own.’

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