Desperate Duchesses

Written by Eloisa James
Review by Teresa Basinski Eckford

Lady Roberta is determined to escape her unconventional life with her father and his mistress by marrying the Duke of Villiers. To that end she journeys to London to visit her distant cousin, in the hope she will bring her into Society. Jemma, a lady of scandal only recently returned from France, agrees. But it is her brother Damon who takes the most interest in Roberta, with predictable results.

A Shakespearean scholar in her other life, Eloisa James is an accomplished and witty novelist with a keen sense of character, pacing and romance. Roberta is no simpering miss, while dashing Damon is delightfully direct in pursuit of his love, even as she insists she loves another. The secondary characters are equally unique, yet don’t seem out of time for the period, which is depicted in all its decadence. A subplot about chess is well integrated into the main story.

Though Roberta’s devotion to the cold, pompous Villiers grated, there was little else to detract from pure enjoyment in this sparkling tale of love set in Georgian London.