Harriet, Duchess of Berrow, has been at a loss ever since her husband killed himself. She has found herself playing the role of dumpy country widow at all society gatherings and she realizes that she’s tired of it. She wants to be more than that. When the opportunity to attend Lord Justinian Strange’s house parties presents itself, Harriet goes for it. She dresses as a man to hide her true identity, but when she meets Jem, Lord Strange, she certainly feels anything but manly.
I’m a little torn about this book. I enjoyed it a lot more than I did the last book I read by Eloisa James, Desperate Duchesses. The focus was definitely on the couple and I enjoyed their love story to a certain extent. I cared about most of the characters, especially Jem’s daughter, which was a little odd because normally I prefer my romances without children in them. I don’t have kids and have trouble relating when they’re involved; they’re important to relationships, but I’m not reading these books for real life. I liked this one, though.
I could easily understand Harriet’s love of freedom in her men’s outfit. She could fence, ride like a man, and enjoy freedoms women couldn’t imagine at the time. It was also very amusing when all the female house guests developed crushes. I couldn’t really get on with Jem, Lord Strange, though. His personality isn’t really revealed until the end of the book and I found it hard to reconcile his behavior with his back story.
I’m torn mainly because I found the ending unrealistic. Jem basically changes to please Harriet and I don’t find that satisfactory at all. I know that I’m supposed to be suspending disbelief, but I just can’t do that here. A relationship will not work if you force someone to give up their former life to be with you. While he chose it in the end, I didn’t see it as a viable relationship, and that bothers me in romance novels. I want to at least imagine a happily ever after. This one had an epilogue, but I still felt that such a change would breed resentment.
So, I liked it up until the end, really. Eloisa James isn’t going to be my favorite romance author, but her books are still providing me with entertainment I need when I can’t focus on much else.
Buy Duchess By Night on Amazon.