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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Should have been named scandalous duchess

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.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Michelle
  • Griffin, GA, United States
  • 09-09-11

Excellent start to a series!

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!

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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An outstanding cast of characters!

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Ilene
  • Angleton, TX, United States
  • 10-10-11

Fabulous!!!

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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More playful than most.

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Slow start, builds well.

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • SIMARA
  • Bayamon, Puerto Rico
  • 03-14-16

Slow start but then it's amazing!

The first few chapters of this book are slow and include many references to chess play and marital problems between Jemma and her husband. I was actually even confused about who were the main characters of the story because they are barely mentioned in the first few chapters. I started getting impatient and considered stopping the story but I am so glad I stuck with it. About a third of the book in it starts to pick up wonderfully. It's a beautiful love story and very enjoyable. Damon was a great hero and the supporting characters such as Roberta's dad, Damon's son and Jemma make the story even better because it's not simply based on the main romance. Defenitely worth a credit.
Narration: Rosalyn Landor is my favorite historical romance narrator. She is consistently good in all her performance. She makes perfect male voices and adds emotion and depth to the stories she narrates.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful story, great writing, superb narration!

Any additional comments?

It was a pleasure to listen to this interesting, clever, funny story narrated to perfection. I especially appreciated the author's excellent writing skills. The characters were unique, a bit quirky and that made them ever so endearing to me. Very entertaining! Bravo.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Another Fun Book from Eloisa James

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Dalia
  • Kuwait, Kuwait
  • 04-13-11

Fun!

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

8 of 11 people found this review helpful