Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Book Review: Desperate Duchesses

I don't really know how to feel about Eloisa James. When I first started reading her books I liked her a lot, but recently I've not been too crazy about her stories (even though I gave Pleasure for Pleasure a good review). One good way for me to gauge if I really like an author is how often I'll re-read their books. I re-read Much Ado About You a fair amount, Kiss Me, Anabel maybe once, and The Taming of the Duke and Pleasure for Pleasure never. I've not even been tempted with those last two. So why do I think I like her so much?

I'm not the only one with this problem. There's something about her writing that we fans seem to recognize as very special, but at the same time, we don't connect with her stories. I think part of it is because James is one of those authors that spends a good amount of time on non-main (secondary) characters. And it's usually pretty obvious that James likes them way better than I do. For instance, I never liked nor cared about Mayne, and she made him the hero in the last book in the Essex sister's series, Pleasure for Pleasure. I also never liked Rafe or Imogen, and they were the main characters in The Taming of the Duke. The other reason for my dislike, I suspect, is the way James seems to craft her books around a theme. A very literary them. I JUST WANT TO READ A ROMANCE NOVEL. NOT HAVE SOME GREAT LITERARY EXPERIENCE.

In this book, the theme is chess. Chess, chess, chess. Out the wazoo. I was so sick of it. Also, I hated Villiers, one of the characters. Unfortunally I think James is going to make him show up again and again in this series, and probably eventually as a hero. Ick. He was just nasty. I didn't like Roberta either, but that was probably because I knew next to nothing about her despite the fact that she was supposed to be the main character. I thought she was kind of a bitch. And I really didn't like the set up between the Duke of Beaumont and his wife, Jemma (more secondary characters, if you're wondering. They're everywhere). I have a sick feeling that James is going to drive their relationship through the mud for the sake of realism and literary conflict, not caring about how messy she gets. Listen, I don't like adultry in romance novels. Ever. Call me a prude, I guess, but I feel like that's where James is going. The way it's set up leads me to think that she will have them eventually live happily ever after, but I don't think that's the best resolution (Jemma's a spoiled, selfish slut, and Beaumont's a hard-working, intellectual politician that should have kept it in his pants, too). All together this book just left me with a bad feeling. I didn't like it at all.

I guess I shouldn't say at all because I really liked the Georgian period James set this book in. It was way more fun that Regency. I may read the other books in the series for that reason alone. I also liked Damon, the hero, but James doesn't spend much time with him so I figured I shouldn't either.

Lindsey's Grade: D

1 comment:

Jane said...

I also liked Damon, the hero, but James doesn't spend much time with him so I figured I shouldn't either.

This made me laugh. Yes, so little time was spent with Damon that it was a wonder that we even remember his name, let alone know him enough to enjoy his presence.