Friday, August 12, 2016

Audiobook Review: Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James

Series:     Desperate Duchesses #1
Pub. Date:July 6, 2010
Publisher:HarperAudio
Narrator:Rosalyn Landor
Length:10 hours 4 min
Source:Hoopla

Desperate Duchesses is a unique historical romance in that it follows several different storylines rather than the typical single hero/heroine. It reads somewhat like a historical soap opera and while discombobulated at times, it was good fun.

Our main heroine is Lady Roberta St. Giles, a country chit who has been living with her poet father, known as the Mad Marquess, and his courtesan mistress. Roberta longs for a life of her own, but her father is holding her back. When she sees the Duke of Villier at a country ball one night, she falls in love at first sight. 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.

The Duchess of Beaumont appears to be the leader of our desperate duchesses. 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. The Duchess of Beaumont is quite scandalous to the extreme displeasure of her ducal husband, who is constantly trying to prevent her from ruining his political career.

The Duke of Villier is a snobbish rogue, esteeming the game of chess above all else. He has proved himself a scoundrel by seducing wantons and innocents alike, and leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake. By all accounts, the Duke of Villier was not a good person, yet Roberta remained infatuated with him. I didn't get the attraction personally and wanted to shake some sense into Roberta.

Damon Reeve, Earl of Gryffyn is brother to the Duchess of Beaumont. He is residing at the Beaumont estate with his illegitimate son, Teddy. Despite raising his bastard son, Damon is quite the catch and many gels on the marriage mart would like to catch him in their net. Unfortunately Damon has little interest in these girls. He was a devoted father to Teddy, who was an fun little scamp. I felt the story was lacking w/ regard to Damon's character because we never got his POV. I would have loved to know his motivations and thoughts on the goings on around the Beaumont house. I am also dying to know the identity of Teddy's mother! I have my suspicions but the question was not answered in this book.

The romance was slow to build due to Roberta's fixation on the Duke of Villier. While flirtations abound and some covert kisses were shared, Roberta remained blind to Damon's charm and interest. Damon, on the other hand, pursued Roberta doggedly and enjoyed the chase.

This is not a Regency romance, it takes place in the later Eighteenth Century, where morals were more lax. Adultery was abundant and expected. It was not unheard of for married men and women alike to have lovers. So adultery ran rampant all over this story. I didn't care for it and it made me think less of the characters. As we were introduced to so many people in this book and saw so much distasteful behavior, I'm not sure how I will feel about them when it comes time for their own story. But I enjoy Eloisa's writing so I'm sure she will find a way to redeem those that can be redeemed.

Desperate Duchesses