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Review: When the Duke Returns, Eloisa James

Isidore, the Duchess of Cosway, has never met her husband, and at 23 years of age, she is getting impatient.  In Duchess by Night, she goes to the country’s most scandalous house party because she knows that will lure him back to her.  She is tired of being a virgin, of being single, and wants to start a family and feel like a real wife.  Her scheme works and Simeon Jermyn, the Duke of Cosway, returns to her side, only to suggest that they annul their marriage.  She is clearly not the woman he expects and after spending years learning to calm himself and avoid all temptations, her passionate nature is simply too much for his restraint.  Isidore can’t let that annulment happen, not after all her years of waiting and when she likes the duke so much, and decides to break through Simeon’s barriers at any cost.

I feel that Eloisa James has hit her stride in this installment of the series.  I have moderately liked the two out of three that I have read of the series, but this one was stunning and made me seriously long for the last two stories.  I finally felt that the love story here was given the time it deserved.  No one changed beyond expectations, the main characters’ interactions sparkled, and I grew even more attached to the secondary characters; Jemma, her husband the Duke of Beaumont, and the Duke of Villiers.  They were properly behind the main storyline but I felt that each of their characters has been growing and changing in an impressive manner and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

One quirk that I’ve never come across in romance before is the couple’s lack of experience.  Isidore has not slept with or even kissed any other man.  Shockingly, neither has Simeon kissed or slept with any woman.  The scene in which they both share their first kiss is amazing.  It was also a fantastic change of pace to have the characters figuring out what to do in the bedroom.  It’s awkward and adorable and best of all, furthers their relationship more than you’d find in most of these books.  I liked Simeon better for his lack of rakeish behavior, actually.  Romance novel heroes have a reputation.  They are men who have experienced all there is, who are experts at the seduction of women.  This one?  The first time for these two is the epitome of embarrassing.  I had to love both of them more after that.

I really have to revise my opinion of these books.  If the last two, This Duchess of Mine and A Duke of Her Own live up to the promise in this book, this may become one of my favorite romance series.  Simply put, I loved it.  I can’t wait to get my hands on the last two of the series.

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