Series: Desperate Duchesses #1
Author: Eloisa James
Pages: 384 (Mass Market Paperback)
Release Date: May 29, 2007
Purchase: Amazon•TBD (affiliate link)
"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?
Desperate Duchesses was a mess of annoying characters and a boring plot. Roberta’s father is a poet with a flair for the dramatic. She’s fed up with his hijinks, so she’s set on marrying a man who is controlled and won’t embarrass her. She sees the perfect man in the Duke of Villiers. Three years later, she moves in with a distant cousin to come out into society and bag her man. Too bad another distant relation is also staying there, and he has his sights set on Roberta.
I liked the set up of Desperate Duchesses, but the characters and the way it plays out was just not good. Roberta meets Villiers once and is convinced that she’s in love. Everyone tells her what a rotten person he is, but she won’t be swayed. Even when she knows that he’s playing a chess game with her “cousin” Jemma where if he wins he gets to be with her. Meanwhile, she’s kissing, petting, and sexing Damon every chance she gets but won’t even entertain the idea of feelings for him. What?! Of course that means a situation must occur to force her to see him that way. Then suddenly a flip is switched and Villiers doesn’t even exist.
There was a side plot in Desperate Duchesses which I thought would be interesting, but ultimately went nowhere. Jemma’s friend was mistreated by Villiers, and her husband killed himself because of him, so she wants Jemma’s help getting revenge. Jemma also promised to help Roberta get him to propose, so she figures she can kill two birds with one stone. I’m not really sure how that works, since her plan was just to get him to marry Roberta because marriage is awful. Um, okay? What?
Desperate Duchesses was just weird. None of the character’s motivations made any kind of sense. The romance was lackluster. The plots were boring. And even more boring was all of the chapters of Jemma and her husband, or Jemma and Villiers playing chess. Or them talking about chess. Not fun.