Monday, February 20, 2012

When the Duke Returns by Eloisa James

SUMMARY (from Goodreads): 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 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 an 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 give up her claim to the title – or him – without a fight.


Through the first 80 pages or so I really hated the female characters in this book. The heroine, Isidore, is hell-bent on losing her virginity and preoccupied with speculating about Simeon’s sexual (dis)abilities. Her mother-in-law, the Dowager Duchess, is a stingy woman who has completely lost touch with reality and only cares about propriety.

Additionally, this book is the last book of the series and I haven’t read any of the previous books. It wasn’t a big problem, since every book focuses on a different protagonist, but the story of Isidore’s friend Jemma seemed redundant to me. I understand this part was included in the book to conclude Jemma’s story arc which had been explored in one of the preceding books in the series, but I think in this case it would be perhaps better if each book was an entity on its own.

But then, as I almost lost my nerve with this book, things got better. As Simeon and Isidore start getting to know each other, the readers can see deeper into their personalities. They have some funny dialogues. Isidore slowly proves to be a caring, resourceful, and independent person who knows how to solve problems on her own. 

Therefore, I came to like the book as a whole by the end, mostly due to Simeon’s and Isidore’s relationship development, which the author handles very well. I enjoyed a slightly different ending from the usually abrupt and-they-lived-happily-ever-after ending. Instead, the story is a little prolonged and offers a short glimpse of the future.

RECOMMENDATION: When the Duke Returns is an undemanding, funny, and relaxing read if you can stand annoying female characters in the beginning and have some patience to get to the good part.

Now, I need your recommendation. If you have read any of the previous books in the series (Desperate Duchesses), do you recommend I read them, or there is no point doing that as I have already read the final book in the series? 


  1. I would definitely read the first book of the series to get the full gist of what is going on in that last book. I thought the first book of the series was wonderful in setting up the three main characters of the whole series: Jemma, the Duke of Beaumont and Villiers. It's particularly important so you can experience the growth in Villiers character, as you will see the differences in him from that first book to A Duke of Her Own.

    1. Thanks, Hilcia! I noticed some character development in the three characters you mention, but it was kind of fuzzy - I think I will really have to check the first book to get the full impression.


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