When I saw this novella listed as Essex Sisters 4.5 I reread the series since it had been a few years. Oliver Berwick is a very peripheral character iWhen I saw this novella listed as Essex Sisters 4.5 I reread the series since it had been a few years. Oliver Berwick is a very peripheral character in Pleasure for Pleasure. But that he participated in spreading the cruel nickname of Scottish Sausage about Josie Essex and another such of another debutante figure critically in the plot. He has carried guilt for his cruelty as a much younger man and the chance to make amends brings him into the orbit of a young widow, equally damaged by cruel gossip. Lizzie Troutt wants no part of men, marriage or anything but the escape of novels. Oliver is a likable hero, especially when relating to his incorrigible niece Hattie. Lizzy quite honestly is so wounded through most of novella that it seems more like a rescue than a romance between two equals. Only in the final few pages do we get a small glimpse of who she truly is. We all have fantasies to meet someone who understands and sees our true selves and rescues us, but honestly it doesn't make for engaging reading if that's all there is. ...more
I began this book about two people whose parents were central characters in the original 6-novel Desperate Duchesses series and knew 50 pages in I neeI began this book about two people whose parents were central characters in the original 6-novel Desperate Duchesses series and knew 50 pages in I needed to reread the first series to fully appreciate this novel. I enjoyed the reread, but when I returned to this novel I half wished I hadn't. I had been charmed by Edward in the previous novel when he returns for Mia his fiancee, but I fell in love with him as Teddy, the illegitimate six-year-old son of Damon Reeve, Earl of Gryffyn. I had a similar experience with young 8-year-old Eugenia Strange. I was so looking forward to their love story, but then James did something she'd not done with any characters with ongoing history in her novels--she resurrected a dead character and entirely changed their character as first written. In the final novel of the original series we meet Lady Lisette, daughter of the Duke of Gilner. We discover before the novel ends that she is Teddy's mother. She is known to be mentally unbalanced. In that novel Lisette is in her mid-20s, and her mother is dead, but we learn about her mother and the events that led to Teddy being given to his father when he was an infant through the duchess' best friend. Lisette's mother is so distressed by her daughter's hysterics and violent episodes, and her insistence she wants no part of her son, that the duchess takes Teddy to his father but is so broken by these events, it breaks her health and she dies not long after. We get no impression that the duchess is anything but a loving mother with a daughter she can't understand and can't help.
In this novel the Duchess of Gilner is alive and changed. She is a hard, cruel woman, and the implication is that she contributed much to Lisette being "cracked." It is an overreaction on my part but it offended me because the original story was so compelling, because sometimes parents aren't to blame. Sometimes people are born into the world with something not quite right. That James for the convenience of a plot changed the fictional history of these characters when there were other ways to achieve the relational dynamics between Edward and Eugenia the plot required felt cheap and trite. I also found it hard to buy that Edward would not know of if not previously know Eugenia with the close friendships and family ties between his family, his aunt Jemma's family, the Stranges and the Dautrys. A few years spent abroad and not circulating in the ton didn't cut it. Even the name change from Edward to Ward to his friends when his former fiancee and friends of his parents know him strictly as Edward felt odd. Every time I read Ward I mentally switched it to Edward or Teddy.
Read in isolation these characters and the young, grieving, half-sister and brother whom Edward has taken into his care is a lovely story dealing with grief and loss and love. A favorite theme of James' that as adults our choices are often made in reaction to or against what we experienced as a child, especially when it comes to spouses and how we parent, is once again explored. For those reasons it is worth the read, though not written with standard of care that I have come to expect from Eloisa James. ...more
I prefer series with the same characters rather than a different couple every time, so I will always be a little frustrated that the Delphi charactersI prefer series with the same characters rather than a different couple every time, so I will always be a little frustrated that the Delphi characters this novel first began with are only met peripherally in these latest ones, but that said, Griffin is one of the best at mixing romance and crime detection that draws in the reader and makes them care while leaving them in suspense. The romantic ending was a little too fast but otherwise Tara Rushing and Liam Wolfe, brother of the Delphi Center's Mark Wolfe are good company....more