Desperate Duchesses

Desperate Duchesses

by Eloisa James

Yet the Earl of Gryffyn knows too well that the price required to gain a coronet is often too high.

Can Damon entice her into a high-stakes game of his own, even if his heart is likely to be lost in the venture?

  • Series: Desperate Duchesses
  • Language: English
  • Category: Romance
  • Rating: 3.66
  • Pages: 384
  • Publish Date: May 29th 2007 by Avon
  • Isbn10: 0060781939
  • Isbn13: 9780060781934

Read the Book "Desperate Duchesses" Online

I guess this story is about Roberta and Damon, but I couldn't really muster up enough emotion to care. He seemed to love Teddy with every fiber of his being, so why would he want some woman who didn't really seem to like his kid? Even beyond that, I couldn't see what the attraction to Roberta was for Damon.

James does beautiful characters in the style of Dangerous Liaisons as the first book in this series begins. Readers will have to continue on with the series to find out the resolutions to characters who have peaked their interest. I shall continue on with the series because there are certain devilish characters herein that charm me.

Also, chess and sex? And it's worse that every single relationship revolves, at least partially, around chess.

As the first installment in Ms. James' "Desperate Duchesses" series, Desperate Duchesses managed to introduce most of the characters we will be seeing in the coming books, and still have time to fully develop a romance that was so sweet I will be grinning about it for days. Damon, the Earl of Gryffyn, knows that Villiers isn't the man for Roberta - because he himself is, of course! of course, Ms. James specifically chose the Georgian time period because of the blatant debauchery, so it's no surprise when Damon decides the only way to persuade Roberta is to seduce her until she surrenders to him. Roberta really grows up over the course of the story and Damon learns an important lesson about having to fight for what you want. Ms. James is clearly weaving these stories together very intricately, building them on top of each other - structuring them, actually, rather like the chess game that Villiers and the Duchess of Beaumont play for many chapters.

Considering the fact that the book opens with an insta-love connection, whereupon Roberta meets Villiers (the pseudo-bad-guy-but-not-really character) for the first time in November of 1780, and immediately decides she must marry him, my first thought was...Romeo and Juliette, anyone? Here it is, my Biggest Issue of All the Issues in This Issue-y Book; no direct emotion exists on page with Roberta or Damon. One or two sentences of Damon talking about himself arises, and despite previously telling herself she was interested in learning about her lover, Damon calls Roberta out on being bored with his reply! I think my second problem is more of an explanation of why the emotional connection between Roberta and Damon was nonexistent in this novel. Throughout the course of the story, Eloisa ping-pongs between Robertas POV with Damon and life and all that jazz, and the telling of the chess game and interplay between Jemma and Villiers. Even though Eloisa does a brilliant job at meshing these two stories together in a believable way, I still feel that, despite such masterful story-telling, this turned out to be a big hindrance to this as a romance. The emotional aspects of the novel went unmet, I feel, because so much time was spent developing the dynamic and plot-drive of Jemma and Villiers, there was almost no time for the emotions of the leading couple to ferment. As a direct result of this limited time, the only way to transmit the relationship of Roberta and Damon was via lust and sex. Ironically, this is even as much as stated by Jemma on page 369 during the dueling scene at the end of the novel. Along the same lines of thought, specifically the lack of basic identity sharing/learning causing the lack of emotion on page, arrives the issues I had with the actual characters in this story. But, still, the two most important people of the book, Roberta and Damon, were unquestionably the most uninteresting characters Ive ever read before, in my entire life. At no point was the reader given any hints into just who Damon was, so focused on the Chess-playing-Jemma-Villiers-Elijah-Harriet reality that was the book. I hate the use of this term with this particular book, however, because the way in which the novel was constructed made it seem as though Jemma and Villiers and Elijah were the lead characters, with the romance-carrying Roberta and Damon shoved to the back burner. I could be wrong, but aside from feeling as though Jemma and Villiers attained more page-time than the romantic couple, so too did they hog the market on personality. And yet, still, after all that, the above book-people held far more interest and likability for me than the two nothings of characters Roberta and Damon! First, theres the fact that Eloisa makes a significant effort to paint the character of Villiers, and his role in the story. With as much time as this author put into this pivotal character, one would think there would be at least a marginal resolution to his storyline in this book. Even ignoring this fact, and the fact that Roberta will now take over the role of mother to Teddy, despite not liking children, shes preggers at the end of the book! Granted, while this character was only briefly on scene, and only point of appearance being to develop a spontaneous crush on Elijah, I still fail to understand why the author brought her into the book, unless shes to be series bait. Adding this to the fact that the huge dynamic, that was almost the entire book, among Elijah, Jemma, and Villiers, as well as the bad-marriage-but-things-are-lookin-up aspect to Jemma and Elijah, that all went unresolved and dropped hotter than a supernova, and Im left wonderingwhat the crap did I just read?! I struggled greatly with the fact that Eloisa, in the early stages of the book, made a big production out of the fact that Damon and Roberta were related. While I understand, very logically, in fact, the need for this plot device, what with Roberta requiring some other believable means of staying within the Beaumont house aside from Jemmas eccentricity, I still found its overuse annoying. Many times throughout the book, Damon would constantly reaffirm the family reality between himself and Roberta, so as to bring Roberta into a more comfortable mindset when dealing with intimate subjects or, even more disturbing, in one instance, even intimacy! This was predominately done in the river-boat-climax scene, where no perspective was utilized to tell the events of Damon and Robertas boat lagging behind the others. The scenes between Jemma and Villiers, even the lust and physical obsession Roberta and Damon, and the subsequent actions of their story all felt as though it were actually happening. I was interested in how the novel would resolve itself, I was invested in the characters, even the ones that bored me, and I cared enough to truly want to arrive at the happily ever after.

Desperate for the Duke, Roberta absconds to London to the home the Duchess of Beaumont, a distant relation, in the hopes that she can experience a season and win the Duke. With marital problems of her own, she decides seeing to Roberta's come out and winning of the duke is the perfect distraction for her tedious time in London. By all accounts, the Duke of Villier was not a good person, yet Roberta remained infatuated with him. Damon Reeve, Earl of Gryffyn is brother to the Duchess of Beaumont. I felt the story was lacking w/ regard to Damon's character because we never got his POV. The romance was slow to build due to Roberta's fixation on the Duke of Villier.

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa's very first book that she "found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; later People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists. Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Eloisa...on her double life: When I'm not writing novels, I'm a Shakespeare professor. Just as I use Shakespeare in my romances, I almost always employ my experiences as a mother.