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Desperate Duchesses (Desperate Duchesses #1)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  7,522 Ratings  ·  639 Reviews
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.

A marquess's sheltered only daughter, Lady Roberta St. Giles falls in love with a man she glimpses across a crowded ballroom: a duke, a game play
Published July 6th 2010 by HarperAudio (first published May 29th 2007)
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La'Destiny I wouldn't say so. The heroine IS engaged to someone else, but it's more of an arranged marriage. The heroine is more intrigued with her betrothed's…moreI wouldn't say so. The heroine IS engaged to someone else, but it's more of an arranged marriage. The heroine is more intrigued with her betrothed's image more than anything else. (less)
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Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads
2.5 stars

1. I hate chess. #sorrynotsorry
2. This reminded me of MANSFIELD PARK, and not in a good way. It wasn't quite as sordid, but it was close.
3. Too many (unresolved) plot lines.
I'm not sure about this one.
It wasn't unreadable, but it is definitely not one of my favorite Elosia James novels. There are too many points of view, and too many different story lines going on at the same time.
I didn't feel connected to any of them in particular.
I guess this story is about Roberta and Damon, but I couldn't really muster up enough emotion to care.

Roberta was a bit of an idiot, but I probably could have forgiven her of that if she had been crazy about Damon's son, Teddy.
I und
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance-hist, own
Life is a chessboard.

There is a freedom of the Georgian period, utter absence of bourgeois attitudes of propriety, ridiculous morality born out of class distinction, that is compelling to read. James does beautiful characters in the style of Dangerous Liaisons as the first book in this series begins.

I shall obfuscate the precise relationships in this book so as to avoid spoiling it. Safe to say that this is a game and persons are being moved around, alliances made, revenge sought, and shocking b
Jun 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Trashy fun! Love it! Corsets!
Jacob Proffitt
Sep 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
At around mid-story I'm giving this one up. We jump into so many perspectives and I can't find any I actually like. Roberta is closest to sympathetic, but even she is mostly just pathetic (as opposed to actively off-putting). Her crush on Villiers is absurd and it's made worse knowing that he isn't even the real love interest. All the other friend circle/duchesses are kind of vile, too. I mean, Jemma is a calculating monster getting revenge for an old hurt and the others aren't far behind her in ...more
Bambi Unbridled
Desperate Duchesses is a unique historical romance in that it follows several different storylines rather than the typical single hero/heroine. It reads somewhat like a historical soap opera and while discombobulated at times, it was good fun.

Our main heroine is Lady Roberta St. Giles, a country chit who has been living with her poet father, known as the Mad Marquess, and his courtesan mistress. Roberta longs for a life of her own, but her father is holding her back. When she sees the Duke of Vi
Jul 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, Ms. James.. you certainly know how to make a girl want to stay up all night reading your entire series! As the first installment in Ms. James' "Desperate Duchesses" series, Desperate Duchesses managed to introduce most of the characters we will be seeing in the coming books, and still have time to fully develop a romance that was so sweet I will be grinning about it for days.

Roberta is, to be honest, a bit of a brat. She feels that her father is unfair to her and that because of him she will
Fangirl Musings
Roberta wants Villiers, Villiers wants Jemma badly but she, Jemma, who is also the sister to Damon, and he, Damon, wants Roberta while she, Roberta, only wants Villiers, though Villiers, remember, only wants Jemma, while she, Jemma, is estranged in marital hell with her husband, Elijah, who he, Elijah, pulled Ass-Hat-Number-Four by cheating on her, Jemma, years ago but who she, Jemma, still loves, but who he, Elijah, was also once friends with Villiers, who he, Villiers, only wants Jemma, and no ...more
Nov 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historic-romance
Awesome book! I loved the characters, manners, storyline, fashions, everything. Ms. James has a way of writing dialogue in that I felt I was there listening, rather than reading about the conversations.

I was cheering for Damon all the way. Determined to get his girl, but a gentleman all the way.

I like the way the story was open-ended for more adventures about the characters involved. I certainly hope that Villiers has his own book and I look forward to the woman who will finally steal his hear
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roberta St. Giles shows up at her distant cousin's house asking to be introduced around London so she can catch the Duke of Villers for a husband. Damon Reeves, Earl of Gryffyn, thinks this is a stupid plan because he's got dibs. Meanwhile, marriages are being Torn Asunder By Feelings And Hurt and there's lots of setup for future novels. GET READY FOR BONERS!

1. As many smarter people than me have said: as a romance, this falls rather flat. Roberta has two modes: Hot for Villers, and Hot for Damo
Liz F
Apr 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. That about sums it up! It wasn't knock-me-down-amazing and it wasn't horrible at all. It was just fine. I think that you could tell that this was the first book in a series; the author had to introduce so many characters here in the first book that it was maybe a little confusing at first. Maybe that's the difference between a good writer and a not-so-good writer? In just a short time, I knew who was who and how they related to everyone else...for the most part. My only majo ...more
Remy Kripton
5 delicious Stars...!!

I absolutely adored the book..!! It was sweet, funny, quirky, and so very romantic. I usually don't like Eloisa James' style. She writes a lot about the secondary characters. I feel she gives less space to the hero and heroine.. But I love Jemma and Elijah in this one.. I can't wait to read their story..!!

And I can't stop gushing about Damon..!! He was perfect. I fell in love with him from the first scene. I so want to be kissed by him thoroughly..!! And I just loved how
I liked this! I mean, yes, I certainly could've done without Roberta being "in love" with Villiers, but the actual romance was SO MUCH FUN. And I liked the kid!

And the book does that interesting things James sometimes does, where much of it isn't focused on the romance at all. It's about the women and the world and stories that will be told in later books. I like it!

(I am NOT liking the second book. Enough so that I feel compelled to mention it here!!!)
Apr 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, 2016
Lecture agréable mais beaucoup d'histoires s'entremêlent ce qui gâche un peu
Aly is so frigging bored
Re-read: September 2016
Maybe, buddy-read with Maru
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
Well, I wish I could have loved this novel as much as the other Elosia James books I've read. I sadly didn't become intrigued with it until page 190, which was when I didn't have to force myself to continue reading anymore. The first half of the novel revolves more around Roberta's distant cousin, The Duchess of Beaumont. I found myself more interested in her character than the main heroine, Roberta. However, it was very difficult for me to read and want to continue reading the book for those fi ...more
This is a book that a friend recommended and has appeared near the top of every "historical romance" list I have seen in recent times.

It is set in 1780 in England and surrounds a series of duchesses. At the end of the book in the notes section, James makes reference to some of her colleagues who assisted and also some classical book references that inspired parts of her story. I googled her background and was intrigued to read that she is a tenured professor in English Literature. Yeah! Another
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Eloisa James' novel. Did I start with the right one? Probably not. Her writing is witty enough although sometimes it's cringeworthy (but aren't they all?) but you can see that she's taken the time to get the historic detail correct. However, my main annoyance is really that her supporting characters are so much more interesting than the main ones. This wouldn't have been the case if she'd focussed more on a single plot rather than having 3 or 4 things going on at once; even if t ...more
Susan (susayq ~)
4.5 stars! I bet you're wondering what kept it from getting all 5, aren't you? Let me explain. This was Roberta and Damon's story. And their story was, flirty, romantic, hot. But there wasn't enough of them in the book. As far as I'm concerned, Jemma stole the scene every time she was mentioned. She was intriguing enough to make me want to skip ahead in the series and read her and Elijah's story. And I'm sure I'll have 238475943923 million comments about their story since he was ...more
3.5-ish. The writing is nice and witty, but the story seemed more like a comedy of manners than a romance. It was amusing, but I didn't really care much about the characters or who got together with whom. A good book, just not my favorite kind of book, at least when it comes to historical romance.
The writing - impeccable as always!!! Easy to read. Trashy fun! But not as good as I expect from Eloise usually... Can not put my finger on it, just something missing... Still, better with not so good James novel than a good one by many others:):):)
27 November 2015: $2.99 on Kindle

8 June 2015: $1.99 on Kindle
4 March 2015: $2.99 on Kindle
Perhaps because I've read the later books in this series I just didn't find this one all that impressive. While it's a good first book in the sense that you'll be introduced to the characters that will make up the rest of the books, the problem is that there doesn't seem to be much focus on the main characters of the story. Add to this that Roberta is a bit of a moron and Damon seems much smarter and funnier I'm not sure I bought the chemistry between them. Was just alright for me.
I've wanted to read a book by Eloisa James for a long time and finally have had the opportunity - and I LOVED IT! I can't believe how much I loved it. This book has something very special to me in it and wins my two favorite tags - world's greatest father and world's greatest husband - which, let's face it, some men can only be one or the other, and often neither. This is a story which sets things up for the six books in the series. That's a tough job because it has to lay the groundwork and ...more
Oct 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found it extremely hard to believe that Roberta would fall so madly in love with the Duke of Villiers that she would leave home and travel to London to find and pursue him. After all, she had spoken a few sentences at the most with him at a party they had both attended. He, thinking she was a nobody, tried to bed her within moments of meeting her. (Nice guy)
Roberta was lucky enough that when she arrived at her very distant, never seen before cousin Jemma's door, that she was not turned away.
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very entertaining! I loved the way love is portrayed; could totally picture myself in Roberta's shoes. ;)

When most historical romances are set either in the Middle Ages or the 19th century (Regency-Victorian), Eloisa James preferred the late 18th century. Probably so she could describe the outrageous clothing and hairdos aristocrats favoured at the time. Be my guest! I've always had a guilty soft spot for the 18th century myself... Things were all so much more... decadent, weren't they? Men got
I finished this in one day, largely because it's an e-book from the library that's due back in two days, and I have to work both those days, so I devoted my Sunday to devouring it.

This is an outstanding historical romance. Georgian, so there are powdered wigs and panniers under wide skirts, corsets and beauty patches. The background is fantastic - the period detail, the social structure, the haut ton stuff. Interestingly, there is also a lot of description of clothing and finery, and against al
As promised, I’m on an EJ kick ever since I loved the ‘Seven Minutes in Heaven’ so I’m plowing through all the desperate duchesses and this is the first one in the series. First, I must say that the author took a chance in giving us multiple points of view and some of you will like it and some of you will hate it. As for myself, I’m somewhere in between. I thought it was well done because it introduced us to the future main characters and their personalities and backgrounds, but at times it felt ...more
Lisa Creane
Here we have the interlooping stories of the desperate duchesses, with our focus on Roberta (the poet's daughter) who wants to marry the obvious Devil (Duke of Villiers) and gets a proposal while living with Jemma (married unhappily to Beaumont but engaged in scandalous chess games with him and Villiers) and playing a dangerous game of passion with Jemma's brother (Damon Reeve, Earl of Gryffyn).

Scenes are stolen by Gryffyn's streetwise son Teddy, who is ruthlessly taught grammar by the poet's d
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New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa's very first book that she "found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; later People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Her novels have repeat ...more
More about Eloisa James...

Other Books in the Series

Desperate Duchesses (9 books)
  • An Affair Before Christmas (Desperate Duchesses, #2)
  • Duchess By Night (Desperate Duchesses, #3)
  • When the Duke Returns (Desperate Duchesses, #4)
  • This Duchess of Mine (Desperate Duchesses, #5)
  • A Duke of Her Own (Desperate Duchesses, #6)
  • Three Weeks With Lady X (Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers, #1; Desperate Duchesses, #7)
  • Four Nights With the Duke (Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers, #2; Desperate Duchesses, #8)
  • Seven Minutes in Heaven  (Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers, #3; Desperate Duchesses, #9)
“It was also bitterly true that a person who doesn’t want you is twice as desirable.” 7 likes
“A fit encomium for marital bliss," Beaumont said, putting down his knife and fork. "Dancing to a tune one neither likes nor understands, with a partner who thinks you a cadaver.” 4 likes
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