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?
©2007 Eloisa James (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers
"The first in a sparkling new series set in the scandalously fun Georgian era by best-selling and award-winning James, this is a gracefully written, lusciously sensual, delectably witty, and exquisitely romantic historical romance." (Booklist)
"If Shakespeare had written an 18th-century romantic comedy, it might look something like this novel." (Publishers Weekly)
I love to read! With kids, that hobby is impossible...enter Audible...problem solved. Chores that I dread are now quiet time for this Mommy!!!
After reading a few of the reviews, I was hesitant to purchase this book. I am so very glad that I did. The author endears you to the characters and makes you want to continue on the journey with the characters in future novels. I am very excited to get to the Duke and Dutchess of Beaumont's story and to see what happens with other characters that were introduced. The love story between Damon and Roberta is lovely and the Duke of Villers is a perfect character to be humbled by the love of a good woman further in the series. I am only dissapointed that Audible does not offer the entire series. I normally don't have time to read, which is why I adore my audiobooks, but I will make time for this series! Worth a credit!
When I first started I thought I was going to be disappointed, but Ms. James engaged my interest after the first couple of chapters, and I actually found myself laughing out loud sometimes. My only complaint is I felt all of the story lines were not tidely closed out, just that of the main character. I was left wondering if some of the other characters were able to resolve their problems.
I thoroughly enjoyed Rosalyn Landor's performance of DESPERATE DUCHESSES. She did a remarkable job with different characters' voices, dialects, inflections; I knew who was speaking (from the performance) prior to the tag (writer telling us who spoke).
This book by Eloisa James was full and rich, a tapestry woven of many different story threads. Separate romances between different duchesses and their dukes. While there was one main love story, the secondary were every bit as entertaining and set up the rest of the series splendidly. It made me want to delve into the rest of them!
I found the storyline very easy to follow, partially because of the superb narration. While there were far more characters of consequence in this novel compared to other books, I found it very well told. Zero confusion. Interlocking plot elements. Enriched story lines because of the progression of the story from different points of view and through different characters' experiences.
I admire Eloisa James's writing....and this book is a gem! Highly recommended.
As always, Rosalyn Landor rocks!!! She brings the characters to life. The novel was wordy and slow in some places but as I hung in there I understood the importance of each part. This novel contained one of the best love seens I have ever heard. I have listened to this novel over five times already. Hope to see more of James and Landor together in the future.
Firstly, I bought this book already being an Eloisa James fan. So, my opinion was already biased in her favor. This book started out a bit slow. It honestly took me a good 2.5 hours to get into it. So, if you also have that problem, keep listening. The story gets better. Perhaps this was because she already anticipated it being the beginning of a series and wanted to set the characters up appropriately. In fact, in the beginning I felt a bit overwhelmed by the number of main characters. Although the focus of this novel is the love affair between Roberta & Damon, EJ takes a while to actually get their interactions.
Roberta has had an unconventional upbringing in her father's home. The overly demonstrative poet has allowed his courtesans to live in his home with Roberta, and embarrasses Roberta with his poetry (including an ode he wrote re: the fold of her eyelashes). So, when she meets an emotionally remote duke, she's convinced he's the right man for her & considers herself madly in love with him...until she meets the Earl of Gryffyn who seems to be everything she doesn't want in a husband. But she's unable to fight her attraction to him, and ultimately realizes that the aloof duke is exactly what she does NOT need.
Rosalyn Landor does a good job as narrator. I'll be honest and say she's not spectacular, but once you get accustomed to her reading style it's easy to enjoy the story.
The writing provides a large cast of characters worth the time, and Landor does her usual good job of bringing the story to life. It is a bit less sexually explicit than other writers, and more entertaining in the situations and dialog, and it doesn't suffer as much tedium as many historical romances that endlessly reiterate the reasons why "it can never be." I look forward to continuing the series.
Audio-fiction ADDICT !
A Fun book! Highly recommended. And Always Rosalyn Landor engage us in the story and the characters with such a wonderful voice and an excellent performance. She is the best hostoric narrator I have ever listen to so far
Another Eloisa James winner. I love the series though I tend to not read any series in order. Reading other books in between allows me to get out of the writing style of that author and when I go back for another book, I find the stories more enjoyable. This was the case with this book and now I am sorry I read “A duke of her own” before this book since I find the Duke of Villiers most fascinating. A great mixture of passion, love and impropriety to add spice to this historical novel. A must read.
If you read much HR, you know there's a plot formula with variation coming from the characters. James is different from other HR writers because she emphasizes dialogue full of complexity and humour. The teasing leading up to the love scenes is lovely. Had to pay close attention in the first half as all the characters are introduced.I'm committing to the series.Gave narration 4 stars only because it didn't stand out (which is actually good - focuses you on the plot) and some of the male characters sounded a bit forced.
I have a PhD in American Literature but my love affair with romance novels on audible is going strong.
When I started listening to the first part of this story, I wasn't sure I was going to like it. It seemed to contain a batch of confusing characters (I mean real "characters") who I couldn't link together. But it wasn't long before it found its rhythm and clarified how apparently loosely linked characters came together in a tale about games of romance.
The Duke and Duchess of Beaumont have been separated for years, but Lady Beaumont (Jemma) has come home from Paris after her husband, a powerful leader in the House of Lords, suffered a sudden collapse during a speech. While both she and her husband have engaged in a number of affairs during the 8 year separation, it is clear that behind their anger towards each other, there is also a deep level of care trying to make itself known. They both are concerned about the Duke's mortality, though they don't admit it to each other. In fact the game of chess becomes a way for romantic pursuit. The Duchess becomes involved in a chess game with the scandalous Duke of Villers, and in a challenge that shows his determination to compete for his wife's love, the Duke of Beaumont also challenges his wife to a chess game.
Gaming strategies are a large part of the romance between Lady Roberta St. Giles and Damon, the Earl of Gryffen as well. Lady Roberta, the only daughter of an eccentric Marquis, happens to be in love with the Duke of Villers. Damon, also sister to Jemma Beaumont, is interested in Roberta and pursues a romantic strategy to take her away from the Duke. Thus the gaming board is set with all the players vying for each other's love. Damon proves to be a surprisingly apt player as he takes on Villers, who is considered the best chess player in England (ignoring the fact that Lady Jemma Beaumont may actually be the best).
The story also includes Damon's delightful 7 year old son, who adds much joy and humor to his father's maneuvers to win Roberta. Rosalyn Landor, who I think does a fabulous job with children's voices, is the perfect narrator for this story, and her sense of humor renders eccentric characters as funny but endearing. Each character is interesting and richly developed, with many intelligent, strong women, and the chess theme serves to tie them all together in their common search to win the happy ending. Though happy endings are in sight for some, it is clear that the book lays groundwork for development of other stories with these characters.
The story's witty dialogue and plot often had me laughing out loud, and Damon and Roberta,are both clever and charming. I highly recommend this book as an endearing and enjoyable read.
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