Posted by: Jennifer | November 30, 2008

When the Duke Returns – Eloisa James

James, Eloisa. When the Duke Returns. (New York: Avon, 2008). ISBN – 9780061245602.

Main Characters: Lady Isidore, Duchess of Cosway and Simeon, Duke of Cosway

Date: 1784

Related Works: This is part of Eloisa James’ Desperate Duchesses series. The following books are in the series:

  • Desperate Duchess– story of Lady Roberta St. Giles and Damon Reeves, the Earl of Gryffyn
  • An Affair before Christmas– story of Lady Perdita Selby and the Duke of Fletcher
  • Duchess by Night– story of Harriet, Duchess of Berrow and Lord Strange
  • When the Duke Returns– story of Lady Isidore, Duchess of Cosway and Simeon, Duke of Cosway
  • This Duchess of Mine – story of Jemma, Duchess of Beaumont and Elijah, Duke of Beaumont (tbp May 2009)
  • A Duke of Her Own – story of the Duke of Villiers and ???? (tbp July 2009)

Description from book:

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 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 and 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 giv eup 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?

My Thoughts:

I thought this a charming story – from start to finish. Isidore has always been an interesting character. I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of her. As a married woman, she has a bit more freedom than most debutantes. She likes to flirt and has many men wrapped around her finger. Yet, she is oddly conservative – and bothered by much of the debauchery that she sees (at Lord Strange’s house party in Duchess by Night). Everyone knows she is a married women; yet, one without a husband. They also know she is a virgin. Finally, after 11 years of marriage, her husband returns to England. He has been informed of his wife’s activities. He specifically comes to remove Isidore from Lord Strange’s house party.

Simeon thinks to leave Isidore in London (in a hotel!!!!) while he returns to his estate, Revels House, to see his family. He discovers the estate is in serious decline due to his family’s tight-fistedness. There is a great deal for Simeon to do in order to undo the damage done by years of neglect. Isidore, however, refuses to simply wait for Simeon. She knows that he is not against annulling their marriage. Simeon believes that Isidore isn’t what he wants in a wife – she is not biddable and is way too passionate. In order to grow closer to Simeon, Isidore travels to Revels House to help Simeon with the situation. I love this part of the book. The way that Isidore comes in and takes charge of restoring the house is wonderful. Simeon isn’t sure what to do with Isidore, especially after she has all of the furniture removed from the house to be repaired in London.

There were many interesting parts to the book. First of all, Simeon is a virgin – one who isn’t afraid of making this fact known. He is a follower of the Middle Way which expects self-control over one’s baser instincts. This, I believe, is one of the main reasons that Simeon has trouble dealing with Isidore. Isidore is a very attractive woman, and it seems as if she is the first woman that has seriously challenged Simeon’s control. Simeon is reluctant to consummate the marriage. It is Isidore who pushes the issue, and eventually succeeds in seducing her husband. Honeydew, the butler was the next interesting part of the book. Honeydew was a riot. He was always guarding the silver and plotting to get Simeon to spend more time alone with his wife. He was an integral part of the book – and I will remember him as one of the most memorable supporting characters (like Sterns from Julie Garwood’s Guardian Angel). Lastly, is the issue of the sewers or water closets. When Simeon returns home, he discovers that his father had indoor plumbing installed. Unfortunately, his father did not keep the plumbing up. This meant that the water closets were full of sewage – and the house stunk. I swear that I could smell this several times while reading the book. I was definitely glad when the Dead Watch were done cleaning up the water closets. 🙂

I very much enjoyed reading about Isidore and Simeon. I also enjoyed seeing more of Jemma, Elijah and the Duke of Villiers – although admittedly, I hate having to wait until mid-next year to get the final two stories of the series. Jemma and Elijah definitely grew much closer in this story, but we also found out that Elijah seems to be be getting sicker. Aahh, I hate waiting!

Read first November 26, 2008

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Responses

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