‘An Affair Before Christmas’ by Eloisa James

aabc-ejSTORY: Magic under the mistletoe…

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 the spark of their love affair has burned out.

Unwilling to lose the woman he still lusts after, the duke is determined to win back his beguiling bride’s delectable affections…and surpass the heady days of first love with a truly sinful seduction.

REVIEW: This is book two in the DD’s series, but I’ve read them out of order (do NOT do that!), and the only reason I finished reading this story was Villiers. I was so glad that at least one third of the story involved him and the consequences he suffered because of the duel he fought. The relationship he cultivated  with Charlotte the spinster, was vastly entertaining and I had so much fun following that story.

As for the main plot, characters and substance of the story? It left me wanting and I found it lacking in all the areas that makes romance, a romance.

I barely liked this couple. The heroine wasn’t just naïve, she was downright ridiculous. I had somewhat better opinion of the hero, but even he couldn’t salvage this story. 

My advice to you is to read Villiers parts, and skip the rest.

Melanie for b2b

‘This Duchess of Mine’ by Eloisa James

tdom-ejSTORY: No man can resist Jemma’s sensuous allure . . . Except her own husband!

Wedding bells celebrating the arranged marriage between the lovely Duchess of Beaumont and her staid, imperturbable duke had scarcely fallen silent when a shocking discovery sent Jemma running from the ducal mansion. For the next nine years she cavorted abroad, creating one delicious scandal after another (if one is to believe the rumors).

Elijah, Duke of Beaumont, did believe those rumors.

But the handsome duke needs an heir, so he summons his seductive wife home. Jemma laughs at Elijah’s cool eyes and icy heart—but to her secret shock, she doesn’t share his feelings. In fact, she wants the impossible: her husband’s heart at her feet.

But what manner of seduction will make a man fall desperately in love . . . with his own wife?

REVIEW: Let me start this review with telling you not to do what I did. Don’t read this series out-of-order. I started with the book one, Desperate Duchesses (Desperate Duchesses, #1) , then I skipped to Duchess By Night (Desperate Duchesses, #3) , followed by A Duke of Her Own (Desperate Duchesses, #6)  and finally this one, This Duchess of Mine (Desperate Duchesses, #5) . I still have to read An Affair Before Christmas (Desperate Duchesses #2) and When the Duke Returns (Desperate Duchesses #4). Which I’ll probably do next week.

It’s very important that this particular series be read in order, especially because of this couple. We’ve met the hero and heroine in book one and all through the series they come in and out so that by the time we get their own story, we already have preconceived notions of who they are and what their personalities are like.

We already know that their marriage was prearranged when they were very young and that they really didn’t know each other much when the marriage took place. Jemma, our heroine, began to fall in love with her husband, that is until one faithful afternoon she drops by his office in Parliament, and finds him having sex with another woman. And that was that for these two.

Jemma decides to bail and high tails it to France, proceeding to flaunt her many affairs, just to embarrass her husband. For NINE years she’s been living in France and evading the responsibility she, as well as Elijah, had toward the title, producing an heir. The only reason she comes back to England is to produce an heir because apparently Elijah may not have much time to live. The man has some heart defect.

Right there was my first problem with these two. Infidelity in romance, at least for me, is off-putting and it needs to have a significant plot in order for me to change my mind about it, like there really wasn’t any real “cheating”, or the heroine was still a virgin, while the hero is assuming otherwise. Stuff like that will redeem the story for me.  No such luck in this story.

My second problem was the start of this book. I truly couldn’t recognize the two as the people I’ve met in the first four books. Slowly, I finally begun to recognize them and it took me a long time to at least understand them, but I never bought into the love they finally professed to each other.

What I loved about this book is the secondary plot of the Duke of Villars’s character development and his search for his illegitimate children. I recommend this book on this alone.

Melanie for b2b

‘A Duke of Her Own’ by Eloisa James

adoho-ejSTORY: A Duke Must Choose Wisely…

Leopold Dautry, the notorious Duke of Villiers, must wed quickly and nobly—and his choices, alas, are few. The Duke of Montague’s daughter, Eleanor, is exquisitely beautiful and fiercely intelligent. Villiers betroths himself to her without further ado.

After all, no other woman really qualifies. Lisette, the outspoken daughter of the Duke of Gilner, cares nothing for clothing or decorum. She’s engaged to another man, and doesn’t give a fig for status or title. Half the ton believes Lisette mad—and Villiers is inclined to agree.

Torn between logic and passion, between intelligence and imagination, Villiers finds himself drawn to the very edge of impropriety. But it is not until he’s in a duel to the death, fighting for the reputation of the woman he loves, that Villiers finally realizes that the greatest risk may not be in the dueling field…

But in the bedroom. And the heart.

REVIEW: I should have known that the best story in this series would come at the end of it. This story has everything I love in romance, from an awesome hero to a wonderful heroine, a host of great characters, plenty of humor and a romance filled with sensuality to curl your toes. But what made this story so god to me, were two things, Villiers’s six children and a dialogue between every character that is written to perfection.

If you love solid, well written and fast paced stories that will engage all your senses, than look no further, but I warn you. In order for you to get the scope of the character of our duke, you’ll have to start from book one and follow through to the end, as the duke is one of the most common denominators throughout the series. I found the series well written and some of the stories I liked more than the others, but one character stands out more than any other and that’s Villiers.

There was a little grievance I had almost at the end, but that in no way has diminished the joy I had in reading it.

My advice to you is not to read this series out-of-order. I started with the book one, Desperate Duchesses (Desperate Duchesses, #1) , then I skipped to Duchess By Night (Desperate Duchesses, #3) ,  followed by this one, A Duke of Her Own (Desperate Duchesses, #6)  and finishing the series with, This Duchess of Mine (Desperate Duchesses, #5) . I still have to read An Affair Before Christmas (Desperate Duchesses #2) and When the Duke Returns (Desperate Duchesses #4). Which I’ll probably do next week. If you have the time and money, this series is worth it.

The full series reading order is as follows:

Book 1: Desperate Duchesses
Book 2: An Affair Before Christmas
Book 3: Duchess By Night
Book 4: When the Duke Returns
Book 5: This Duchess of Mine
Book 6: A Duke of Her Own

Melanie for b2b

‘Duchess By Night’ by Eloisa James

dbn-ejSTORY: One night’s disguise could lead to a lifetime of passion…

A Mischievous Charade…

Harriet, Duchess of Berrow, is tired of her title and the responsibilities that come along with it. Enough with proper tea parties and elegant balls; what Harriet really wants is to attend an outrageous soiree where she can unleash her wildest whims and desires. But to attend such an event—especially if the event in question is Lord Justinian Strange’s rollicking fete, filled with noble rogues and rotters, risqué ladies and illicit lovers—would be certain scandal. That’s why she must disguise herself . . .

Looking forward to a night of uninhibited pleasure, Lord Strange is shocked to discover that beneath the clothes of a no-good rake is the most beautiful woman in the room. Why is a woman like her risking her reputation at his notorious affair? And can he possibly entice her to stay . . . forever?

REVIEW: The thing that I loved most in this third book in EJ’s Desperate Duchesses series, is the heroine who decides to attend a house party as a male. The whole concept was intriguing, but once initiated, I laughed throughout the story. Our heroine did her best to appear as male as possible, which in the end she thought was just amazing to do because it gave her a lot of freedom.

I was also impressed with the hero who was Alpha male through and through, yet had a lot of vulnerabilities and when it came to our heroine, at first thinking her a young man, was so dumb founded to be attracted to a “him”. Their interaction from the start gave me giggles galore.

Together these two characters were complex, interesting and very entertaining. Their attraction, romance and happily ever after was fraught with a lot of problems, and in the end only the strength of their characters and convictions with some compromises, gave them their happy ending.

Once more we encounter characters from the previous books, Roberta and Gryffyn, as well as Duchess of Beaumont, and [sigh] Villiers. At this point, it was like catching up with my old friends.

I just loved the fun in this story and highly recommend it.

Melanie for b2b

‘Four Nights With the Duke’ by Eloisa James

fnwad-ejSTORY: As a young girl, Emilia Gwendolyn Carrington told the annoying future Duke of Pindar that she would marry any man in the world before him—so years later she is horrified to realize that she has nowhere else to turn.

Evander Septimus Brody has his own reasons for agreeing to Mia’s audacious proposal, but there’s one thing he won’t give his inconvenient wife: himself.

Instead, he offers Mia a devil’s bargain… he will spend four nights a year with her. Four nights, and nothing more. And those only when she begs for them.

Which Mia will never do.

Now Vander faces the most crucial challenge of his life: he must seduce his own wife in order to win her heart—and no matter what it takes, this is the one battle he can’t afford to lose.

REVIEW: This is book two in EJ’s Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers series [btw: I’d love to know who came up with this title of the series] and by now I’m sure as to what to expect from this second generation of DD’s series and I’m finding myself less and less surprised by the plot, which in itself isn’t so bad. I find that I am well entertained by almost every character in these stories. That’s a win-win for me. As long as I like the characters, I’m happy to read the book straight through.

We met this duke in the first book of this series, but we get to see what makes him tick in this one.

I loved the opening of this story because it does a wonderful job of introducing us to the two leads as teenagers and to their personalities as such and gives us a hint as to who they’ll grow into.

The hero was one complex character and even though it took me awhile to get to know him, I knew that he’d turn out to be a decent and good man. Vander’s arrogance was off putting at the beginning, but his relationship with Charlie and his complex relationship with Mia made him feel more real, more likeable.

The heroine I liked from the get-go, but at times I just wanted to shake her and give her a talking to. I did love the fact that she was decisive and that she was an authoress, but it’s her humanity that attracted me the most to her. Her love and sacrifice for her nephew was palpable and watching her insecurities and struggles through her feelings of love for Vender was very emotional and touching.

And as usual, this author populates her story once more with an array of wonderfully fun and entertaining characters, from Vander’s uncle Chuffy to Jafeer, Vander’s Arabian stallion. And bringing back the Duke of Villiers, Thorn and India was like icing on the cake.

If I had only one word to describe this story, it would be satisfying. I highly recommend it and guarantee you’ll have much fun reading it.

Melanie for b2b

‘Three Weeks With Lady X’ by Eloisa James

twwlx-ejSTORY: Having made a fortune, Thorn Dautry, the powerful bastard son of a duke, decides that he needs a wife. But to marry a lady, Thorn must acquire a gleaming, civilized façade, the specialty of Lady Xenobia India.

Exquisite, head-strong, and independent, India vows to make Thorn marriageable in just three weeks.

But neither Thorn nor India anticipate the forbidden passion that explodes between them.

Thorn will stop at nothing to make India his. Failure is not an option.

But there is only one thing that will make India his—the one thing Thorn can’t afford to lose…

REVIEW: In the sixth book of the Desperate Duchesses series we meet a thirteen year old bastard son of the Duke of Villiers, Tobias. He was acknowledged by his father and raised in his fathers household. Since young Tobias never liked his given name, he went by Thorn.

He is aware of how society perceives him and he’s made up his mind that only a real Lady would suit him as a wife, and thus he acquires an estate, albeit run down. In order to impress the parents, especially his future mother in law, his stepmother hires a Lady Xenobia, an independent thinking woman and an exquisite ton decorator.

Despite finding the story predictable, I had so much fun reading it. I reveled in their charming banter through their correspondence; I chuckled and laughed out loud at the absurdity of the whole situation these two find themselves in and I loved the heart of this story, two perfectly unique people that had to go through a lot in order to recognize the love they felt for each other.

EJ does an excellent job in creating fully fleshed out secondary characters and in this case I really wish she’d written at least a novella with Lala and her doctor, whose little romance was a wonderful secondary plot of this story.

I didn’t struggle too much in which category I’d place this story so instead of “amazing” it went into “liked a lot”. I hope you’ll read it.

Melanie for b2b

‘Desperate Duchesses’ by Eloisa James

dd-ejSTORY: “Welcome to a world of reckless sensuality and glittering sophistication…of dangerously handsome gentlemen and young ladies longing to gain a title . . . of games played for high stakes, including–on occasion–a lady’s virtue.”

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 game player of consummate skill, a notorious rakehell 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?

REVIEW: As promised, I’m on an EJ kick ever since I loved the ‘Seven Minutes in Heaven’ so I’m plowing through all the desperate duchesses and this is the first one in the series. First, I must say that the author took a chance in giving us multiple points of view and some of you will like it and some of you will hate it. As for myself, I’m somewhere in between. I thought it was well done because it introduced us to the future main characters and their personalities and backgrounds, but at times it felt a bit confusing because of the multiple story lines happening all at once.

Which brings me to the main characters of this book, Lady Roberta St. Giles and Damon Reeve, Earl of Gryffyn. I honestly think that the lack of chemistry between the two is due to their story being lost in the shuffle of everyone else vying for attention. 

I wished that the romance was moving a bit faster, but I did understand why it didn’t. Our heroine was “in love” for the most part of the book with Duke of Villiers and our poor hero kept chasing her around trying to talk her out of her “obsession” with the duke.

However, regardless of all that, I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Duchess of Beaumont and her husband, Elijah and the Duke of Villier’s intrigued me to no end.

In the end, this is more of an ensemble cast of characters that at times appear that they’re chasing the wrong love interest, and I do recommend it being read before you tackle the rest of the series. It will be less confusing. Trust me.

Melanie for b2b