The Duchess of Cosway yearns for a man she has never met...her husband.
Married by proxy as a child, Lady Isidore has spent years fending off lecherous men in every European court while waiting to meet her husband. She's determined to accept him, no matter how unattractive the duke turns out to be. When she finally lures Simeon Jermyn back to London, his dark handsomeness puts Isidore's worst fears to rest - until disaster strikes.
The duke demands an annulment.
Forsaking his adventuresome past, Simeon has returned to London ready to embrace the life of a proper duke, only to find that his supposed wife is too ravishing, too headstrong, and too sensual to be the docile duchess he has in mind. But Isidore will not give up her claim to the title - or him - without a fight.
She will do whatever it takes to capture Simeon's heart, even if it means sacrificing her virtue. After all, a consummated marriage cannot be annulled.
Yet in forcing Simeon into a delicious surrender, will Isidore risk not only her dignity - but her heart?
©2008 Eloisa James (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers
Firstly, this is actually book 4 in the Desperate Duchesses series - I hadn't realised this and listened to it as a stand alone book, whilst this didn't detract from my enjoyment of it in any way, there were often chapters relating to another couple's marriage which I suspect may have been from previous books and it did not conclude their relationship which will be book 5 in the series This Duchess Of Mine. My point is, reading them in order would be beneficial but not absolutely necessary.
Coming back to this book, which I thought was funny, charming and a sweet romance about 2 virgins who were married by proxy at a young age finally meeting 11 years later (still virgins) and coming to terms that they are not each others 'ideal' partner and yet the chemistry is there. So, should they get an annulment or consummate their marriage - which proves easier said than done. Good likeable characters that make you want to scream, but it was also touching and tender and, of course, it's a ridiculous tongue in cheek romp in the eighteenth century and the epilogue has a surprising twist too!
Worth a credit? Yes definitely a typical E.J. story.
Have enjoyed reading other books by Eloisa James. I cannot bear listen to this narrators voice.
So far, the most memorable book of the series. I wasn't crazy about the Italian accent, but it didn't matter once I got to know the characters - I shouldn't give away why. The build up to their inevitable love scene(s) was a lovely tease. The ongoing subplot with Jemma, Villiers and Beaumont (sp?) is getting more complex - love it.
We first see Lady Isadore finally meet her duke at the end of the previous novel, "Duchess by Night." In "When the Duke Returns" we learn more about that first encounter and at last discover why Simeon stayed away from London, indeed all of Europe, for so many years. Neither Simeon or Isador is what the other expects, but they're immensely attracted to each other. More importantly, their relationship teaches them more about themselves and eventually they're able to see that their differences can make for a good partnership.
Initially, Simean was a difficult hero to fall in love with. He seemed like one of those people with a lot of "book smarts" (in his case gained from extensive travel) but limited real-life experience. One of the things I love about this book is that their first few weeks of marriage reveals that despite her gender, and societal constraints on women, Isador's beauty hides an interesting combination of business acumen and empathy.
EJ continues to tease us on the triangular relationship between Jemma, Elijah, and Villiers. Ironically, as Jemma & Elijah's marriage grows stronger, so does the friendship between Elijah and Villiers. I look forward to seeing the repair of this marriage, and this friendship. And I can't wait to finally see Villiers finally fall victim to love :)
P.S. Susan Duerden continues to be a wonderful narrator.
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