Continuing in the spirit of romance reading, and following the kind footnotes on Wikipedia about the best ‘Historical/ Regency writers’ of our time I move on to Eloisa James. The Regency period is considered between 1811- 1820 and is the one that was made popular by Georgette Heyer in her writings.
I read only three of her books which were part of the series known as the ‘Duchess Quartet’ and I must say I liked them more than the works of Jo Beverley. But one can’t be certain when one realize’s that it may have been simply because one read them first and before the brain was clogged with the cloying pink fog of romance due to overdose of the the sentimental reading.
Duchess in Love is the first in the series and was an absolutely sweet book. It tells the story of Gina who was married before she reached her teens to the Duke of Girton by his extremely controlling father. The Duke promptly disappeared that very day and was not seen in England for more than a decade leaving a lonely and confused little girl behind. He has now returned to begin proceedings for annulment of the marriage so that Gina may marry the one she now loves.
In the same group we are introduced to the group of Gina’s friend’s who are all married but without their spouses by their side for one reason or another. Esme Rawlings was married to an old man when she was hardly seventeen and consequently proceeded to leave him and have numerous scandalous affairs. Carola Periwinkle, who left her husband a few days after her marriage because she couldn’t bear the “married state” and Helene, the Countess Godwin whose husband threw her out of his house and installed an opera singer in her bedroom. The series follows most of the players introduced in the first book and that somehow makes it comfortable reading and almost like going through the society pages for the latest updates on the Kardashians! ( Only here the stories have already reached their happily ever-afters.)
A Wild Pursuit is the third in the series and picks up the story of Esme Rawlings and her ongoing affair with Gina’s ex-fiance following the scandalous death of Esme’s estranged husband. Also, we are introduced to a new character Beatrix Lennox, who was caught a few seasons ago in a compromising situation and has been cast out of her home and society as a result. She has ended up in the care of Esme’s dear aunt Arabella who brings her along for a visit to Esme’s country home for the period of Esme’s confinement. It quickly turns into a house party as Esme’s friend the Countess Godwin also arrives, as does the Earl of Spade who is cousin to Duke of Girton.
The knack of Eloisa James to introduce more than one pair of courting couple leads the reader to remain thoroughly invested in the venture and refuses to get boring at any time.
Your Wicked Ways picks up the story of Helene the extremely upright Countess of Godwin who is willing to do anything in order to have a child. In fact, she is so desperate that she accepts her estranged husband’s vile proposal to fulfill her dream. She is a serious music composer and so is her spouse (which is another quirky profession to have introduced the reader to considering the time period and their social standing) and the music plays an important role in their re-conciliation.
Eloisa James does not really shock the reader with the more gruesome home-truths as does Jo Beverley and more or less follows the premise of a regency romance with idle Lords and Ladies completely absorbed in their quest of being eternally entertained and kept in funds.