Elijah and Jemma, the duke and duchess of Beaumont, were married far too young. Jemma adored her new husband, but Elijah didn’t quite get it and kept his mistress on the side, for a variety of reasons. When Jemma surprised Elijah at work with a picnic, she was completely devastated to find him making love to his mistress on his desk, and fled the country, hoping he’d follow and make it up to her. Needless to say, he didn’t. Years later, Jemma is a hit in France and has had a few affairs of her own when Elijah passes out in Parliament. He realizes that his health is precarious and he needs an heir, so he asks Jemma to come back. Before they return to their marriage, however, both realize that they must come to terms with each other and understand what went wrong the first time in order to make their marriage work this time.
This is the fifth book in Eloisa James’s Desperate Duchesses series. At the beginning, I thought the series had too many characters, but by book four, which I loved, it became clear to me that Elijah, Jemma, and the duke of Villiers were the true stars, and as a result I’ve been very excited for the last two. It is a bad idea to start here; I had a look on Amazon and virtually everyone who rated this book negatively had not read the first four. If I hadn’t read the first ones, there is just no way I would have already had the attachment to these characters that makes this book work so well, so for anyone who is interested in This Duchess of Mine, keep that in mind.
That said, I loved this book. It starts off with a bang as Elijah saves Jemma, the background of which is fully detailed in When the Duke Returns, then slows down into a more sedate pace. I will admit that the first half of the book after this was a little too slow. Jemma attempts to set Elijah up with another woman so he has some fun and realizes that he only wants her, but it mostly backfires, as anyone who has been reading the series will know. When that ends, and Elijah and Jemma finally fall in love again, the book picks up in a big way and becomes beautiful and heartbreaking. Skip this next bit if you don’t want a spoiler:
Essentially, Elijah has a condition which could kill him at any time, and there is no known cure. Jemma’s realization that when finally all is right in the world, all is really wrong, is well done and touching. I knew that because it was a romance novel, there had to be a happy ending, but I still worried for him and felt for her as they searched for a cure.
As usual, the duke of Villiers plays a part in this novel, namely searching for his missing bastard children once he realizes how horrible their circumstances must be as he unknowingly put a dodgy solicitor in control of them. His book, the last, is next, and I am practically dancing in my seat with anticipation. His character development over the series has been just amazing and I can’t wait to see who gets him in the end.
This review has gone on and on, but I just want to end with a quick comment on Eloisa James’ writing. Her intelligence and education really shows with stunning prose that stands out in the genre. Her books are a cut above the rest and at this point, I know I’ll be out looking for more after this series is over.