Reviewed by Carla F.
If asked to list my 10 favorite romance authors, I doubt that I would put Eloisa James on the list. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy her books. It is just that I feel some trepidation before I start reading one because Ms. James writes smart, complex stories with interwoven characters. The love story of a certain couple can (and often does) carry through several books. Her writing style is truly a distinctive one.
One reason for this is the time period that this book (and others) is set. It is the Georgian period where the men (sometimes the hero although not in this book) wear wigs and high-heeled boots. The women wear elaborate hair designs and clothes. The detail is intense. (In real life James is Dr. Mary Bly, a Professor of English, so research is extremely important to her.)
Also the people in her books have habits and customs that can be different from what a reader has come to expect from a romance set during the Regency. The characters remind me of those in Dangerous Liaisons. “The course of true love never runs smooth” is way too a tame phrase for the hero/heroine in one of these. The love lives of all the characters are just downright messy. At times a character’s motives is not only hidden from the reader but often from the character himself/herself.
In A Duke of Her Own, Leopold Dautry, The Duke of Villiers is determined to marry a Duchess. Why? Well it seems that Leo has not one but six illegitimate children. Leo has always supported these children financially, but after almost dying in a duel he decides that he wants to raise the children in his home, and he wants the children to be raised as if they were born of a lawful marriage. He then must find a wife, and he decides that only someone who is the daughter of a Duke would have the necessary pull to get the ton to accept his children.
Duke’s daughters are thin on the ground so there are only two currently available. One is Lisette who everyone thinks is mad and the other is Eleanor who has vowed to only marry a Duke. Eleanor isn’t a snob. She just said that because her true love (and former lover) Gideon, Duke of Astley, was forced into a marriage of convenience, and Eleanor wanted him to know that she would wait for him in case the marriage ended.
Leo and Eleanor are drawn to each other soon after meeting, but of course, Leo has to also check out Lisette as a possible wife and mother, so he heads to her father’s residence. Eleanor’s mother gets wind of this, and she, Eleanor’s sister, and Eleanor also go visit Lisette’s home.
It is fun to read the back-and-forth interplay between Eleanor and Leo as they try to decide who is going to marry whom. This book is recommended for those readers who like flawed characters who are uncertain about love but manage to find it anyway and those who like to read stories of people in tangled relationships. It is also recommended for those who love books set in the Georgian period.
Buy: A Duke of Her Own
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