“Married by proxy as a child, Lady Isidore has spent years fending off lecherous suitors while longing for her husband, Simeon Jermyn, the Duke of Cosway, to return. But when the prodigal duke finally returns, ready to take on his obligations, he finds the woman they call his wife too ravishing, too headstrong, too sensual to be a proper duchess. But Isidore will not give up her claim to the handsome duke without a fight.”
In typical James style, When the Duke Returns is full of quirky characters, funny scenes, and one very desperate Duchess. Our hero has been travelling in search of the Blue Nile, finding the Middle Way, and getting in to all sorts of interesting scrapes abroad while his hot-blooded Italian wife (by proxy) has been patiently waiting his return. When he returns to rescue his would-be demure and biddable wife from the clutches of the party at Lord Strange’s house, he discovers that his mother’s letters describing his Duchess are fairy tales rather than truth.
And that is not all he has discovered. Granted, he has picked up some decidedly un-English habits abroad, but there is something universally rotten going on in his country estate.
The only thing that I didn’t love about the book was too much switching to secondary characters (which must be a tease for her upcoming Desperate Duchess book, because they are slated to be the main characters). It was the same problem I had with Julia Quinn’s recent forays into Cavendish-ness, and maybe a conspiracy of the editor or publisher to hook readers.
Believe me, I don’t need such devices to guarantee picking up Eloisa’s latest.