I bought it randomly at a used book store because I'd heard good things about James's writing and the premise appealed to me: The heroine was married to the hero by proxy as a child, but it's been years and they haven't met. This was jarring for me, but the minor character is a good female friend of the heroine, which I liked, and I think that if I were reading the whole series in order the subplot would be much more enjoyable. The hero and heroine are complex personalities whose characters both develop in the course of the story, and they face some quite original situations that were fun to read about. It takes guts to write extensively about shit in the middle of a romance novel and James totally pulls it off. It's the first time for the hero as well as for the heroine, which I love because that's so rare in romance novels. In the historical note at the end, James says that she based the hero on a Scottish explorer who published a book called Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (she in fact says he discovered the source of the Blue Nile, which would be a red flag if it weren't at the very end of the book). The way that the hero's character develops in response to his relationship with the heroine, therefore, is to reject his conception of the Middle Way as inadequate: On the final page of the story, he reflects that the problem with his former approach was "No life. The term "Middle Way" is drawn from Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim, in which the titular hero meets a Tibetan holy man who seeks freedom from the "Wheel of Things." ... On top of this we find out that part of the conflict between the hero and heroine--the fact that the hero thinks that the best marriages are the ones in which the husband is in charge--is something that he learned in "the East!" Because what this book really needed was a casual reminder that (even to an English lord in 1784!!) "Eastern" women are especially submissive.
Eloisa James uses the concept of a proxy marriage in her latest book, When the Duke Returns. Her heroine has waited twelve years for her husband the Duke to return and validate their marriage. Shell have her children, do Duchessy things, and then, as far as Isidore is concerned, her husband the Duke can go right back to Africa or wherever. Simeon has returned to England to take over his duties as the Duke. Shell be quiet, demure, and docile and hell have no problems keeping to the philosophy of the Middle Wayno strong feelings like anger, lust, or fear. When The Duke Returns is another engaging story from one of historical romances bigger names.
I skimmed like the dickens to get through this novel towards the end, and threw the paperback at the wall when the couple had a serious conversation about the need to have a silly foreign sounding secret code word when she needed to meekly acknowledge or comply to his demands, no matter the request or the terrorists win. With the exception of a sparse handful of delightful moments James is known for, the book sucked....hard. And I didn't like this book, but I don't hate it. Maybe I'll continue reading some of the books in the series, maybe not.
Interesting plot and Isidore and her Duke, Simeon Jermyn, make for a very interesting couple. Lady Isidore married Simeon Jermyn, the Duke of Cosway, by proxy when she was 12 years old and had just lost her parents. Having traveled the world and seen a lot of stuff, Simeon Jermyn had made his mind up about what kind of marriage and life he was going to have on his return to England.
This wasn't quite a 4 star read, but the ending of it was just fabulous, so I bumped it up. She is beautiful, spunky, witty, and fun to read about. Well, Isadore has been waiting for the duke to come and get her for over 8 yrs. But I did like the plot, love Eloisa James' writing, loved the heroine, and I LOVED the ending. Overall, a fun read, but I just couldn't get into the hero's character. The writing saved him...anyone else, and I'd have docked it a star, but EJ has such a way with words, that even not liking our "meh" hero, I still enjoyed the book.
Isidore and Simeon were married by proxy 12 years earlier - she was 12 and he was 18. Isidore is beautiful, independent and spunky - but when Simeon meets her, she is not the docile, biddable, agreeable wife he envisioned. Isidore wanted to be his partner; he wanted a wife who was blindly devoted to him and did everything he asked and had no opinions of her own. She made decisions impulsively; yet he never realized that it was his fault she did that - if he had returned when she was 17 or 18 and assumed a married life, she would have followed his lead. The melding of these two lives would not be easy (Is marriage ever easy?) - but the problem I had is that it took the entire book for Simeon to realize that. I liked this part when Simeon was thinking to himself..."he realized something his heart already knew.
I also really like Eloisa James' writing style - I hadn't read any of her books until A Kiss at Midnight, which I loved. As much as I liked this book I probably wouldn't re-read it (and that factors into how I rate them) unless I start the series at the beginning and need to re-read the parts about Jemma and her husband. I know it's a series, and I should have known better, but if you're standing in a book store it doesn't SAY it's a series.
Simeon, Duke of Cosway, decides that Isidore won't do as his wife because she dares think she's her own person with ideas and opinions like some kind of man or something. Nowand I could be understanding this incorrectly, so please let me know if you have a different idea of thingsit sounds as though there are multiple water closets in the house, connected by pipes with running water that feed to a central pit under the "main" closet on the ground floor. 'I'm afraid that when the water closet pipes leaked, they inundated the study, causing the rot of a number of books.'"THAT IS DISGUSTING. I don't even mean this in a "ewwww" way but in a "Your house is a hazard and will cause you many horrifying diseases if you continue to live there.
Yet her husband continues to roam around the world, without sending one letter to her. I kept staring at her dialogues in the book and then turning up, looking for something to throw at her shallow head. It is admirable how she deals with a reserved husband who is so different from what an ordinary english noble is like. She turns to out to be quite a wonderful heroine at the end of the book. It's a shame how Eloisa James overshadows it with too many adventure stories that are so typical that it sounds like a broken record that's been playing for years. But it's their first time, that's the highlight of the book. In short the characters are wonderful but Eloisa James' does something of a messy job executing their story.
Despite his age, Simone, the duke was a virgin and so do, Isidore. I was left wondering what actually occurred to the dowager duchess since Simone despite his attitude, wasn't appreciated by his mother even though he saved her from villains.
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.