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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?

Topics: First in a Series, London, England, Scandal, Love Triangle, Nobility, and Heiress

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061800467
List price: $4.99
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OK, a bit more saucy than I expected. Perfectly acceptable, even enjoyable, fun read.more
I love, love, love Eloisa James! (If a Shakespearean professor can write Regency romances, then it's okay for a lowly junior high English teacher to read them voraciously, right? That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!) This is the first in her Desperate Duchesses series, and it's definitely setting the stage for the rest of the books to come (I'm not sure I'm going to be able to stick to the chronological order, though, because after this one I *really* want to see Jemma and Elijah's story! I'm going to attempt to be good, though.); even though this is Roberta and Damon's story, James gives you a wealth of other characters to enjoy and look forward to reading more about. As usual, her research really shines through in this book without it reading like a textbook, and the numerous allusions to Shakespeare and other literary personages just make it even more fun. I can't wait to continue on with the rest of the series...good thing I'm on break!more
This book started off really badly and I almost didn't finish it. It felt like all the duchesses were whining brats that were married but had affairs that weren't even secret from their husbands. In fact is was like it was expected! It felt like it was a Victorian age Melrose Place and it was a giant soap opera. Not really my thing. I would have given it one star but it did get a little better in the end and I was happy with the ending. I don't think I will be reading the rest of this series though.more
I like the central conceit of this book, that an unhappily married Duchess, Jemma, who's returned to London to do her duty and provide an heir, introduces her country cousin to society in order to help her snag her own Duke. This is a fun fast read.more
I really enjoyed this book. I had not previously read anything by this author and mow I'm going to make up for that and try to get hold of most of her backlist. There's lots of humor but what is even more important to me is that there was no jarring historical inaccuracy and the prose was very readable. The two main characters, Damon and Roberta, were both charming without BEING FOOLISH. The other characters were also important and feel like a tapestry rather than chess pieces (although chess plays a large role in this book).more
I loved this! Roberta is a smart character, and though she is a bit naive, she's also refreshingly forthright, and the reader will be almost as charmed by her as is Damon, her very distant cousin, and the man who decides he'll marry, while trying to help her catch the attention of the notorious duke Roberta is in love with.Great characters, sexy and romantic and witty - I plan to read my way through as many of James' romances as I can!more
Lady Roberta St Giles is a woman who has lived with the fact that her family isn't in any way normal or ordinary. Her father is a poet who lives with women openly in a way that makes people ask questions about his family. She calls on a relative to try to get herself on the market. When she sees the Duke of Villiers, a notorious rakehell, she decides he is to be hers.Damon Reeve, the Earl of Gryffyn thinks differently, but can he win?It's fun, full of complicated relationships, chess and duels. It was a fun, light read.more
After reading any number of comments about this author on the Regency list I finally decided to give James a try. I've read that she's a 'love her or hate her' kind author so I started the first chapter with as open a mind as I could. I'm not into chess so I was bored with that aspect, actually couldn't see WHY James decided on that particular thing as the kernel of the story but trudged on. While the actual story covered a very short period of time it felt like I was reading the book for a very long period of time, not a good sign at all, especially since I have the 2nd and 3rd books in this series on loan from the library and will have to renew them. Sometimes an author's voice and I just don't blend very well but I'm hoping the 2nd book will appeal to me more. What started me on this journey is a co-worker gave me one of James' books and it turned out to to be the 4th book in this quartet, so what else could a reader do but start with the first book. I'm just glad I didn't spend money on these books - bless our libraries.more
As a general rule of thumb, I greatly enjoy Eloisa James. She has a fun, snappy style of writing, her dialogue is great, and she has plots that aren't the norm. Those three things automatically garner my attention and repeat reading. This book, while I enjoyed it, wasn't quite up to James' standards, I feel. There were a couple of times when she almost immediately contradicted herself (at one point Roberta says that thinking about her prospective fiance's debauched life makes her wince, and at the beginning of the next chapter, she says it doesn't bother her a bit because his indiscretions are nothing compared to the craziness of her father). Things were occasionally confusing, as there were a lot of peripheral characters that only marginally touched on the plot itself. But it was a decent plot, and I enjoyed reading it. It was everything I look for in a romance novel (taking my mind away from this world into a different one and keeping me amused), but it also wasn't as well written as some others.more
This is one of my favorite of Eloisa James's books. Set in the Georgian period instead of the Regency like most of James's books, this book has a charming story, memorable characters, and a touching love story. Damon is one of my favorite of James's heroes, and Villiers is a fascinating character as well. While James does fall into her traditional trap of not concentrating enough on the main story, it's not as destructive here as usual - probably because the other characters are interesting as well. A good book!more
This was a story that dragged at times, but for the most part it flowed decently. I wouldn't say that it was a page turner, because it was rather...annoying at times. A girl falls in love with a duke at a ball while at home in the courntry and then goes to London in hopes of snaring the duke. Her father has money, she has intelligence, but her father has sheltered her from the world and refused to let her live fashionably- even letting his mistresses raise her. The story has 2 parts, one of which bored me to tears about how chess was such a rage and her relation, the duchess, who puts her up in London is having a chess match with the duke that is the heroine's love and the duke that is the duchess's husband. The other story is how the girl wants to marry the duke but is being seduced into loving the duchess's brother, an earl. It's ok, but not worth rereading. The second in the series, An Affair Before Christmas, was MUCH better.more
Taken from the back cover: 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. The Earl of Gryffyn,Damon Reeve, is determined to protect Roberta from chasing after the wrong destiny.From me: As befitting the title, the dukes and duchesses are more interesting than our lead romance most of the way through the book. This book is funny, witty, charming, fun, full of great characters and obviously the setup for the forthcoming series. I can't wait to see how the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont work out their miscommunication. And I am rooting for Villiers (our sort of villian) to make a happy match (male or female I'm not sure). I really enjoyed the book, but do wish I felt more interest in Roberta and Damon.more
Read all 15 reviews

Reviews

OK, a bit more saucy than I expected. Perfectly acceptable, even enjoyable, fun read.more
I love, love, love Eloisa James! (If a Shakespearean professor can write Regency romances, then it's okay for a lowly junior high English teacher to read them voraciously, right? That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!) This is the first in her Desperate Duchesses series, and it's definitely setting the stage for the rest of the books to come (I'm not sure I'm going to be able to stick to the chronological order, though, because after this one I *really* want to see Jemma and Elijah's story! I'm going to attempt to be good, though.); even though this is Roberta and Damon's story, James gives you a wealth of other characters to enjoy and look forward to reading more about. As usual, her research really shines through in this book without it reading like a textbook, and the numerous allusions to Shakespeare and other literary personages just make it even more fun. I can't wait to continue on with the rest of the series...good thing I'm on break!more
This book started off really badly and I almost didn't finish it. It felt like all the duchesses were whining brats that were married but had affairs that weren't even secret from their husbands. In fact is was like it was expected! It felt like it was a Victorian age Melrose Place and it was a giant soap opera. Not really my thing. I would have given it one star but it did get a little better in the end and I was happy with the ending. I don't think I will be reading the rest of this series though.more
I like the central conceit of this book, that an unhappily married Duchess, Jemma, who's returned to London to do her duty and provide an heir, introduces her country cousin to society in order to help her snag her own Duke. This is a fun fast read.more
I really enjoyed this book. I had not previously read anything by this author and mow I'm going to make up for that and try to get hold of most of her backlist. There's lots of humor but what is even more important to me is that there was no jarring historical inaccuracy and the prose was very readable. The two main characters, Damon and Roberta, were both charming without BEING FOOLISH. The other characters were also important and feel like a tapestry rather than chess pieces (although chess plays a large role in this book).more
I loved this! Roberta is a smart character, and though she is a bit naive, she's also refreshingly forthright, and the reader will be almost as charmed by her as is Damon, her very distant cousin, and the man who decides he'll marry, while trying to help her catch the attention of the notorious duke Roberta is in love with.Great characters, sexy and romantic and witty - I plan to read my way through as many of James' romances as I can!more
Lady Roberta St Giles is a woman who has lived with the fact that her family isn't in any way normal or ordinary. Her father is a poet who lives with women openly in a way that makes people ask questions about his family. She calls on a relative to try to get herself on the market. When she sees the Duke of Villiers, a notorious rakehell, she decides he is to be hers.Damon Reeve, the Earl of Gryffyn thinks differently, but can he win?It's fun, full of complicated relationships, chess and duels. It was a fun, light read.more
After reading any number of comments about this author on the Regency list I finally decided to give James a try. I've read that she's a 'love her or hate her' kind author so I started the first chapter with as open a mind as I could. I'm not into chess so I was bored with that aspect, actually couldn't see WHY James decided on that particular thing as the kernel of the story but trudged on. While the actual story covered a very short period of time it felt like I was reading the book for a very long period of time, not a good sign at all, especially since I have the 2nd and 3rd books in this series on loan from the library and will have to renew them. Sometimes an author's voice and I just don't blend very well but I'm hoping the 2nd book will appeal to me more. What started me on this journey is a co-worker gave me one of James' books and it turned out to to be the 4th book in this quartet, so what else could a reader do but start with the first book. I'm just glad I didn't spend money on these books - bless our libraries.more
As a general rule of thumb, I greatly enjoy Eloisa James. She has a fun, snappy style of writing, her dialogue is great, and she has plots that aren't the norm. Those three things automatically garner my attention and repeat reading. This book, while I enjoyed it, wasn't quite up to James' standards, I feel. There were a couple of times when she almost immediately contradicted herself (at one point Roberta says that thinking about her prospective fiance's debauched life makes her wince, and at the beginning of the next chapter, she says it doesn't bother her a bit because his indiscretions are nothing compared to the craziness of her father). Things were occasionally confusing, as there were a lot of peripheral characters that only marginally touched on the plot itself. But it was a decent plot, and I enjoyed reading it. It was everything I look for in a romance novel (taking my mind away from this world into a different one and keeping me amused), but it also wasn't as well written as some others.more
This is one of my favorite of Eloisa James's books. Set in the Georgian period instead of the Regency like most of James's books, this book has a charming story, memorable characters, and a touching love story. Damon is one of my favorite of James's heroes, and Villiers is a fascinating character as well. While James does fall into her traditional trap of not concentrating enough on the main story, it's not as destructive here as usual - probably because the other characters are interesting as well. A good book!more
This was a story that dragged at times, but for the most part it flowed decently. I wouldn't say that it was a page turner, because it was rather...annoying at times. A girl falls in love with a duke at a ball while at home in the courntry and then goes to London in hopes of snaring the duke. Her father has money, she has intelligence, but her father has sheltered her from the world and refused to let her live fashionably- even letting his mistresses raise her. The story has 2 parts, one of which bored me to tears about how chess was such a rage and her relation, the duchess, who puts her up in London is having a chess match with the duke that is the heroine's love and the duke that is the duchess's husband. The other story is how the girl wants to marry the duke but is being seduced into loving the duchess's brother, an earl. It's ok, but not worth rereading. The second in the series, An Affair Before Christmas, was MUCH better.more
Taken from the back cover: 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. The Earl of Gryffyn,Damon Reeve, is determined to protect Roberta from chasing after the wrong destiny.From me: As befitting the title, the dukes and duchesses are more interesting than our lead romance most of the way through the book. This book is funny, witty, charming, fun, full of great characters and obviously the setup for the forthcoming series. I can't wait to see how the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont work out their miscommunication. And I am rooting for Villiers (our sort of villian) to make a happy match (male or female I'm not sure). I really enjoyed the book, but do wish I felt more interest in Roberta and Damon.more
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