Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Four Nights with the Duke by Eloisa James

As a young girl, Emilia Gwendolyn Carrington told the annoying future Duke of Pindar that she would marry any man in the world before him—so years later she is horrified to realize that she has nowhere else to turn.

Evander Septimus Brody has his own reasons for agreeing to Mia's audacious proposal, but there's one thing he won't give his inconvenient wife: himself.

Instead, he offers Mia a devil's bargain...he will spend four nights a year with her. Four nights, and nothing more. And those only when she begs for them.

Which Mia will never do.

Now Vander faces the most crucial challenge of his life: he must seduce his own wife in order to win her heart—and no matter what it takes, this is the one battle he can't afford to lose.

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Book 2
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is hard for me to review, as I think reading six 400-page Historical romances back-to-back over the past several days has burnt me out on the genre. With that being said, I adore Eloisa James' easy writing style and voice, so it hurts a bit to give a critical review.

What I loved about the book: The initial blackmailing was highly inventive and not something I've read before. Showing how Mia and Vander were in the past during their parents' indiscretions would have added some much needed development, but this portion of the book was excellent for adding scandal. Young Master Charles, Mia's nephew & Vander's ward, while crippled, he was a strong little character (I would have enjoyed seeing more time between him and Rose). The Arabian horse deciding he was in Mia's herd, therefore Charles was Mia's foal. Vander's drunk, adorable uncle was a bright spark. All of these things kept me reading and reading and reading. They brought light and life to an otherwise 'meh' storyline.

Four Nights with a Duke started out splendidly, hooking me from the first page. The going back into the past to when Thorn, Vander, and Mia were 15 was a humorous yet heartbreaking scene. True to life and how young teenage boys would behave. While I could see how this could shape Mia's self-esteem, if she truly were in love with Edward, he obviously enjoyed her personality and looks for two years. So after nearly 400 pages of Mia hating her body while everyone was screaming its praises, I couldn't take it anymore. This should have stopped at the halfway point of the book, because it was no longer about being blind to her charms but rather fishing for compliments while hitting the reader in the face with it... repeatedly.

All the trappings of Historical Romance were absent: Scandals. Marriage-minded mothers. Balls. Operas and theater. House parties and dinner parties. The Season. London. A vast cast of characters (there were few characters shown on the pages). While I'm not sad I missed any of that, since it becomes tedious and repetitious, the story took place on their bordering estates with little else happening.

There were times I adored Mia, and other times I couldn't stand to read one more word of her pages upon pages of ruminations. In fact, Vander had a ton of inner monologue as well. Both of them repeating things already thought chapter after chapter. While I loved the underlying premise of the story, it got bogged down in the same thoughts and actions and redundant scenes. I felt the plot wasn't evolved enough to support so many pages, with no extra story threads woven in. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. The plot was good, and a novella is still a full story told without the excess of redundancy to make up word count.

Every chapter began with a passage of Mia's current work-in-progress, as she is a novelist. Truthfully, while these passages could be funny, I began skipping them. One chapter would end mid-scene, and then the next would start, where the reader would have to read about the WIP or a letter to the editor, then it would dive right back into the scene we just left. It was jarring and unnecessary, especially when it cut a heated scene in half. It was cute the author was clearly making fun of some of the ridiculousness that reviewers point out in Historical Romance, able to make fun of herself. Mia adored the books of two of her fellow authors, who were clearly Lisa Kleypas & Julie Quinn judging by what they were named.

All in all, I did enjoy the book, but after reading so many Historical Romances back-to-back, and by this author, I began to see the flaws and the redundancy and it stalled my reading enjoyment.

Four Nights with the Duke is a decent addition to the series, and I look forward to the next.

Recommended to those who are fans of Eloisa James, but don't expect anything you haven't read before, and I feel bad saying so.

Genre: Historical Romance

Also Available in the Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out our Three Weeks with Lady X post.

Eloisa James is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author and professor of English literature, who lives with her family in New York but can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. (Her husband is an honest-to-goodness Italian knight!) Eloisa's website offers short stories, extra chapters, and even a guide to shopping in Florence.

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Erica reviewed her personal copy of Four Nights with the Duke (Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers #2) by Eloisa James for this post.

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