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Graphic Designer, painter, dreamer, fashion addict, unhealthy obsession with shoes and jewelry. Film lover and oh yes....books! :D
This Duchess of Mine (Desperate Duchesses) - Eloisa James 2.5-3 stars

I feel like this book was missing a vital part of the story. The beginning was very jarring and haphazardly set up. I felt like I was walking straight into the middle of the story rather than the beginning. I just failed to understand how the estranged couple Jemma and Elijah, Duke and Duchess of Beaumont, who’ve been apart for 9 years go from almost strangers to a gaspy blushing lusty couple who can’t *wait* to jump into bed and get their swerve on in the very first chapter. Help me dear author and explain...what the hell happened??

It’s probably my fault for skipping the previous book. I didn’t realize it until half way into reading this. Oops. I thought I did. And I do have book 4, it’s been sitting in my bookcase for over 2 years since I got it. Oopsie whoopsie doopsie. My fault. I went into this thinking I had the overall back story of Jemma and Elijah based on the other books I read in this series, their story started to unfold in the side stories of the previous books. Looks like I should have read Isidore's book before this. This is definitely a book you can't read as a stand alone.

But even so, I really do wish EJ structured this story better. I came into this not as a new reader and I was still lost. There was no beginning to this just a long drawn out middle and an ending. The characters do finally manage to fill in *some* of the gaps of what happened that has our heroine returning from France to reunite with her husband. But the beginning seemed more like the climactic middle or ending which I found odd and left me floundering for quite some time trying to figure out how & why these two are acting like lovestruck blushing lusty teenagers. For a minute I thought I was reading a flashback to the earlier days of their marriage where Jemma is head over heels in love with her husband. But it's present day and Jemma still seems clearly smitten and in love with her husband. I was fine with that, I just wanted an explanation of the transformation. The last I remember she was upset and enraged by her husband for cheating on her with his mistress so she runs off to France and ends up staying there.

The thing that honestly had me finally picking up this book (besides boredom) was Elijah's heart condition and it being the 'catalyst' that lures the estranged couple back together. Naturally it was used as angst for the two but the thing I struggled with is truly believing they fell in love again, or more importantly Elijah loving Jemma. But I did end up enjoying their reunion and how fiercely Jemma fought for their future by finding a doctor to cure her husband of his irregular heartbeat. That was nice and made things go from tepid and dull to interesting. I just wish the interesting part happened a little sooner. Too much foot shuffling happens in here. More than half the book is focused on endless talks of chess (which I clearly don't have the head for) which started to get redundant and boring and of course...the fashion. Waaay too much droning on about fashion. I LOVE fashion like any other girl but the amount of fawning and cooing over wigs, shoes, embroideries and makeup was tiring. It started to give the characters' voices (Jemma in particular) a pretentious frivolous edge that got tiring and obnoxious after a while. I got tired with the number of times the words delicious and gorgeous were used in here to describe someone's slippers or domino. EJ is wonderful at painting vivid portraits of the lifestyle and culture pertaining to the historical time setting of a book. Here the rage was high wigs, ostentatious makeup, patches, hair powder and wide panniers. She pays great attention to detail which is admirable and most cases enjoyable and charming. I usually love her attention to detail but I wish she curbed it a little in here because it made the story drag on and become tedious especially when Jemma gets carried away daydreaming over someone's embroidered coat or dress endlessly. It started to get annoying after awhile.

Speaking of annoying I thought Elijah's excuse as to why he kept sleeping with his mistress after marrying Jemma really tacky and patronizing as hell. Having Jemma understand was even more asinine and unrealistic. In the early days of their marriage, Elijah apparently was entranced by his young wife, couldn't stop thinking of her or making love to her every night but didn't give up his mistress. Why you ask? Because 1) he couldn't think of how to break it off with her, 2) what could he tell his poor mistress who had already shown up and spread her legs for him that very morning that Jemma caught them in his office? 3) And it was too late to do anything about it, they had an arrangement they already started and couldn't stop (oh yes you could have Your Grace). 4) He had a reputation in the House of the Lords he needed to uphold. 5) And hey, he's a man after all and couldn't say no. -__- Are you kidding me??! You honestly were worried what your mistress would think if you said no??! Wow. pfft. That has got be the dumbest and most ludicrous excuse I've heard. If I were Jemma I would have bopped him upside the head. And he's genuinely and sincerely guilt-ridden over it and apologizes profusely throughout the story I just found his reasoning behind this unsavory and cowardly. I would have been rolling my eyes instead of patting his chest. Lame Elijah, really REALLY LAME.

And I will say this if anything this book made me really want to re-read Leopold, Duke of Villiers book again. He's just marvelous. He's quite the scene stealer. I adored his book the first time I read it (and of course out of order :P) seeing him in here all pensive, brooding and jaded made him even more intriguing and the stand out character he is. He's not for everyone and self-serving but has his selfless moments and genuinely wants to find a woman who loves him. His adoration of Jemma and snarky personality and cold demeanor was very engaging. I wish I owned a copy so I could skim through it again.