Book Review Club: Desperate Duchesses by @EloisaJames #GeorgianRomance

Desperate Duchesses audio cover

My review for this month is the audio book of Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James, the first book in the Desperate Duchesses series.

Here’s the tagline from the Amazon description:

Welcome to a world of reckless sensuality and glittering sophistication . . . of dangerously handsome gentlemen and young ladies longing to gain a title . . . of games played for high stakes, including—on occasion—a lady’s virtue.

Desperate Duchesses is a delightfully bawdy Georgian romance (1783) with a fairly complicated plot and a large cast of characters.

The protagonist/heroine is Lady Roberta St. Giles, only daughter of the “mad” Marquess of Wharton and Malmesbury. The marquess is notorious for both his florid poetry and his scandalous behavior, including living openly with his mistress, a former actress. Worse, the marquess loves Roberta so much that he hasn’t made any provisions to give her a London season and a chance to marry.

A chance encounter at a country New Year’s ball with the equally scandalous Duke of Villiers convinces Roberta that she’s madly in love with him and no other husband will do. Two years later, still pining for him, she packs herself off to London to impose on a distant relative on her mother’s side: Gemma, Duchess of Beaumont.

Gemma has just returned to her husband after eight years in Paris where she was free to take lovers and focus on her obsession with the game of chess. Gemma’s husband Elijah, a member of the House of Lords, worries that Gemma will bring scandal down on his head and ruin her political career.

Also in the house is Gemma’s brother, Damon Reeve, the Earl of Earl of Gryffyn, and his illegitimate son Teddy. He’s determined to protect his virginal cousin, Roberta, who isn’t as sophisticated as she thinks she is.

All the Duke of Villiers wants is to beat Gemma at chess and then bed her. (Chess plays a large part in the book and was apparently all the rage at the time.)

The Mad Marquess and his poetry add a lot of comic relief, as does Teddy.

Of course, nothing goes as planned, except perhaps for Damon, our hero.

I loved the characters. Roberta isn’t your typical virginal heroine, being familiar with the seamier side of life through her father’s mistresses. Damon is deliciously manipulative, and Teddy is a charming six-year-old rascal. Gemma is a brilliant and strategic thinker, who could have run the country had she not been born female. The dialogue is intelligent and witty. I loved this book. Five Stars.

Rosalyn Landor’s narration is pitch perfect. She’s one of my favorites.

All in all, Desperate Duchesses is a delight to read or listen to and highly recommended to all fans of sensual romance.

This will be the last Book Review Club review until September.


Click on the graphic below for more great reviews in Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.

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Dear FCC, I purchased the audio book from

Thinking of Our Veterans This #MemorialDay

Memorial Day graphic

I’m thinking about the men in my family who served our nation on this Memorial Day.

Two of my ancestors fought for the Union during the Civil War: one from Pennsylvania (my dad’s side of the family) and the other for West Virginia (my mom’s side of the family.) Both were wounded, one at Gettysburg, the other at the Battle of the Wilderness.


Memorial Day dates back to 1865, shortly after the end of the Civil War, when people in both North and South put decorations on the graves of those who fell in what is still the bloodiest war in American history. The holiday was called Decoration Day before the name was changed to Memorial Day.

My dad volunteered for service in World War II in August of 1942. He first tried to join the Navy as a Seabee, but was turned down for being underweight. He never was a large man, maybe 5’7″ tall. So he went across the hall to the Army Air Corps and enlisted. (He always said that in those days, the Army would take you if you could see light and hear thunder. He was quite the joker.) He worked on the ground crew of the bombers keeping the sights adjusted so the bombs would hit their target. He served first in North Africa and then in Italy.

My brother joined the Air Force right out of high school and served in the Pacific area as the Korean War was ending. I still have the doll he sent me from the Philippines.

In 2015 and again in 2016, I visited the Normandy landing beaches and the American cemetery in Colville. Learning about the D-Day landings and then seeing the rows of crosses really hits home the tremendous sacrifices made by our Allied soldiers that day. The experience is moving and humbling.

American cemetery

Grave markers at American cemetery, Colville, France

Wishing you all a joyful and meaningful Memorial Day.