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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 15 December 2008
I enjoyed this book. It's a well written tale about Isidore and Simeon, the Duke and Duchess of Cosway: "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." A light hearted story about what happens when a passionate, head-strong and beautiful woman collides with her calm, dispassionate (on the surface) and in-control husband. A lot of the story takes place on his country estate, which has been sadly neglected. There is lots of choice detail about Georgian plumbing! I didn't find it hugely emotionally intense but their developing relationship was well described and there is some good, snappy dialogue.

I can't help it though, I confess that in all the books so far I have been distracted by the parts featuring Jemma Beaumont and her husband Elijah. It is very tantalising - I want to read their story and because of the way it's been set up I'm guessing theirs will be one of the darkest books of the series. I'm also looking forward to finding out what happens to the Duke of Villiers.

I do like how Eloisa James writes and "When the Duke Returns" is definitely better than the last two in this series.
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on 5 January 2009
The latest in Eloisa James' "Desperate Duchesses" series focuses on Isidore, the Duchess of Cosway, and her husband Simeon. They have a rather unusual marriage in that, despite being wed for eleven years, they have never actually met. They were married by proxy when Isidore was 12 whilst Simeon was travelling in Africa and India and he has never returned. In James' previous book in this series we learned that Isidore accompanied a friend to a country house party in order to try to get some reaction from Simeon. It works - Simeon arrives at the house party and takes Isidore back to London.

Isidore didn't know what to expect in her husband and finds that he's a man who doesn't conform to society's idea of a gentleman in clothing and general dress. However she does find hm very attractive and knows that she, herself, has many admirers. However when Simeon's initial plans to have a 'proper' wedding change to suggestions of an annulment, Isidore has to decide whether she wants to continue with her marriage with its many inconveniences, not the least of which are the problems at the Ducal seat and with his mother, or whether she wants the freedom she has never really had. And can Simeon, who has learned self control and calmness on his travels, ever get to grips with his fiery wife?

Eloisa James writes well and the interest is always kept up in this book. There were some rather unusual plot events (having the water closets cleaned out in the house, for example) and the side plot of Jemma, Duchess of Beaumont, and her troubled marriage was explored further although unresolved. Where the book falls down is depth of plot (this was actually a fairly simple story and I wasn't always convinced by the interactions between Simeon and Isidore) and historical accuracy where characters used American words in the time of George III (such as 'diapers' for 'nappies' and various American sentence structures which aren't used in England). I had looked forward to this book as I enjoyed the previous one but felt somehow as if it didn't quite satisfy and some of the improbabilities in the plot were too much to ignore.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2009
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Lady Isidore Del'Fino was married by proxy when she was just twelve years old, and always assumed her husband would fetch her when she came of age. Eleven years on, Isidore is tired of waiting. But when her presence at a scadalous house party achieves the desired result, Isidore isn't altogether sure her duke is what she bargained for.

Simeon, Duke of Cosway, abhors chaos and has spent more than a decade exploring ways to avoid it, and ignoring his responsibilities. On his travels the one thing he's come to prize above all else is his control. So when he comes home to an unpleasant mother, years of unpaid bills, a rotting house and a wife designed to wreck his self-control, it's not surprising he soon wishes he hadn't bothered.

Isidore is a passionate, hot-blooded Italian woman who is used to taking care of herself. Simeon is a rigidly self-controlled man used to being in command of any situation, at any given time. In this fourth book of the 'Desperate Duchesses' series opposites attract in an explosive combination. Made all the more delicious when control is thrown to the wind.

In typical James style humour and realism collide with blocked water closets, decadent dresses and discussions of virginity. While the return of the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont and the Duke of Villiers not only developes the overall series, but provides confidants and refuges for the main couple when things inevitably go wrong.

Yet, in a book filled with funny, charming, sexy and romantic moments I couldn't help being more interested in what was happening with Elijah, Duke of Beaumont. The scenes where Jemma visits his office, and where Villiers and he talk were my favourites in the entire book, making me eager for the next (This Duchess of Mine).

(That's not to say Isidore and Simeon aren't interesting, but after four books I'm really quite fond of Elijah.)

Thankfully, James has a gift for handling ensemble casts and presenting several storylines at once, while still making the reader (well, me anyway) care about all of them. And she's not afraid of strong heroes and even stronger heroines. When it comes to the end her books are always great fun and leave me with a smile on my face.

Oh, and the epilogue is perfect. I love this series.
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on 21 February 2009
I am a big fan of Ms James and have all her books. I am very very disappointed with this long-awaited new Duchess book. Without repeating what other reviews already written about the story outline, I will go straight to the problem: there is no "romance" in this "romance" novel. No chemistry, barely any interactions between H/H. It reads like a build-out to the next book in the Duchess series. I think like so many romance authors (no names here) who have written many books and series in a short period of time (due to publishers' demands?), Ms James needs a writing holdiay to recharge her battery.
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on 18 August 2014
I have read all 6 in this series and this was the slowest of them all. Still good, but not as gripping as the others. However if you are reading them in order (as you should) do not miss this one out, as it contains details/facts you will find usedul/necessary in future books. On the plus side it does liven up during the second half.
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on 27 June 2013
Review taken from my blog in August 2011 (Blog Post #157) after borrowing the book from the local library.

5+ stars all the way, this was a truly excellent read.

Simeon Duke of Cosway has been away exploring the source of the Blue Nile (and other exoctic places) for a very long time. In the meanwhile he allowed himself to be married by proxy to Lady Isoidore when she was 12 years old.

He's never met her, but decides to return and collect a "stray package" from a houseparty at the notorious Lord Strange's country estate. That "stray package" is in fact his wife.

He finds a mountain of debts and a huge stink, and having never met his wife it would be expected that they would be hard pressed to make a go of their marriage, let alone anything else.
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on 18 February 2009
Not at all what I was expecting given the way the characters had been set up so far. It was all far too predictable. Simeon returns from his travels to find that the woman his mother had painted as docile and obedient is anything but. Her blatent sensuality and hard-headedness make him doubt his ability to remain in control when Isadore is around. And he prizes control over all else, refusing to give into anger, fear or lust. Thus he proposes an annulment. After all, the marriage hasn't been consummated. Yet.
Simeon resists Isadore's attempts at seducing him leading her to think that he really isn't interested. Which is far from the truth. Therefore he has to correct her misguided impression.
The annulment on the grounds of non-consumation now lost, a divorce is attempted on the grounds of Simeon being insane. His mother tells all her aquaintances that he had brain fever to atone for his enjoyment of going for a run in short trousers; scandalously revealing his knees to the public!
I won't spoil the end but it is well worth the read. I was hooked and couldn't put it down
The side story with Jemma and Elijah is very distracting and I'm in suspense for their story in the next book.
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on 22 July 2013
I had a hard time putting this book down.
After reading the other books in this series I was worried that it may not be as good.
It was better. I could not put the book down.
I really enjoyed the the writing style and the way I felt like I was there.
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on 19 January 2012
I loved this book. Great dialogue, good plot. Romantic interest good without being explicit. Isidore our intelligent heroine was married by proxy at an early age, and has waited for her "husband" the Duke of Cosway to return from his world travels and begin married life. Unfortunately he is a different man when he returns, suggests an annulment, and therein the story develops. The Duke of Villiers also makes an appearance - such a dissolute but interesting man. The Duke and Duchess of Beaumont also figure in this book, with their on again, off again marriage. Altogether, a really good read.
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on 11 December 2009
4th in the duchesses series and is the story of Isidore. married by proxy at the ageof 12, never seen her husband and now 11 years later she has decided enough is enough and she wants a real marriage. so accompanying harriett to lord strange's house of inequity she forces her husband to return to england. when they finally meet and spend some time together neither is what they expected or wanted but through making amends with the village and repairing the house they discover more about each other. will they realise what they have together in time???
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