An Affair before Christmas (Desperate Duchesses Series #2)

( 57 )

Overview

Magic under the mistletoe . . .

One spectacular Christmas, Lady Perdita Selby, known to her friends and family as Poppy, met the man she thought she would love forever. The devilishly attractive Duke of Fletcher was the perfect match for the innocent, breathtakingly beautiful young Englishwoman, and theirs was the most romantic wedding she had ever seen. Four years later, Poppy and the duke have become the toast of the ton . . . but behind ...

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An Affair before Christmas (Desperate Duchesses Series #2)

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Overview

Magic under the mistletoe . . .

One spectacular Christmas, Lady Perdita Selby, known to her friends and family as Poppy, met the man she thought she would love forever. The devilishly attractive Duke of Fletcher was the perfect match for the innocent, breathtakingly beautiful young Englishwoman, and theirs was the most romantic wedding she had ever seen. Four years later, Poppy and the duke have become the toast of the ton . . . but behind closed doors the spark of their love affair has burned out.

Unwilling to lose the woman he still lusts after, the duke is determined to win back his beguiling bride's delectable affections . . . and surpass the heady days of first love with a truly sinful seduction.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Eloisa James’ elegantly written historical romance, sparkles with her distinctive brand of delicious sensuality and wicked wit.
Booklist
The second in James’ beguiling Georgian-era Duchess series is richly imbued with James’ wicked wit, and once again, the resplendent combination of her exquisitely nuanced characters and lushly sensual romance is sublime.
Chicago Tribune
Eloisa James’ elegantly written historical romance, sparkles with her distinctive brand of delicious sensuality and wicked wit.
Booklist
The second in James’ beguiling Georgian-era Duchess series is richly imbued with James’ wicked wit, and once again, the resplendent combination of her exquisitely nuanced characters and lushly sensual romance is sublime.
Publishers Weekly

Entertaining and exciting throughout, there's enough seduction, laughter and surprises in the second Desperate Duchesses installment to satisfy even the most demanding fans of historical fiction. In the spring of 1783, four years after they married for love, irreconcilable differences in the bedroom have left the duke of Fletcher desperate for a mistress and Poppy, his wife, certain that "Fletch" no longer cares for her. Poppy was brought up by the ruthless and unwittingly hilarious Lady Flora, who believes that all men should take mistresses to relieve their wives of unpleasant marital duties, so she can hardly help her distaste for intimacy. When she discovers Fletch's plans for infidelity, she leaves him and moves in with the vivacious and sexy Jemma, duchess of Beaumont, who educates her in the merits of independent living. Meanwhile, Fletch contrives a plan to win her back. To round out a wonderfully busy and well-delivered plot, Jemma's likely paramour, the duke of Villiers, has developed an unlikely affection for the plain, brash spinster Miss Charlotte Tatlock, rumored to be another duke's mistress. With a menagerie of charming, unconventional characters and a great sense of fun, James's latest foray into Georgian romance suffers not a single dull moment. (Dec.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Disillusioned with her increasingly strained marriage, Poppy, the young Duchess of Fletcher, leaves her equally frustrated and mystified husband and moves in with Jemma, the notorious Duchess of Beaumont. Naïveté, a mother's poisonous influence, and lack of communication are at the root of Poppy's problems, and Jemma and her sophisticated companions are just the ones to help-maybe. An intelligent, sometimes insecure heroine, an admirable, loving hero, and a host of truly fascinating supporting characters make this a holiday tale to remember. Poppy's story is certainly the focus here, yet there are a number of other relationships that James is nurturing that readers will ultimately want to see resolved. Continuing the series begun with Desperate Duchesses, this multilayered volume delivers a refreshingly frank (think women's hairstyles and the attendant cleanliness issues), totally delightful glimpse into the bawdy Georgian era that preceded relatively buttoned-down periods. New York-area James is a rising star among historical romance writers.


—Kristin Ramsdell
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061245541
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/13/2007
  • Series: Desperate Duchesses Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 247,933
  • Product dimensions: 6.72 (w) x 4.10 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Eloisa James

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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Read an Excerpt

An Affair Before Christmas
By Eloisa James Avon Copyright © 2007 Eloisa James
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-124554-1


Chapter One Four years later

An excerpt from The Morning Post,

April 22, 1783

The buzz of the past few days amongst the ton has been the challenge that the Earl of Gryffyn offered the Duke of Villiers. It seems that the earl has stolen away the duke's fiancé. We cannot comment on the veracity of this report, but we would note that dueling has been strictly prohibited by our gracious sovereign ...

Townhouse of the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont A morning party in celebration of the Earl of Gryffyn's victory in a duel

"The Duchess of Fletcher," the butler announced with a magnificent bellow. When he said nothing about the duke, Poppy looked behind her ... but Fletch was gone. He had drifted away to some other part of Beaumont House without bothering to be announced. Or inform her of his intentions.

She could feel her smile turning rigid so she picked up her skirts and edged down the three marble steps into the ballroom. Side panniers made it difficult enough to negotiate doorways and stairs, but this morning her French maid had outdone herself. A veritable cascade of frills, curls and bows towered over Poppy's head, the whole of it draped with strings of small pear-shaped pearls. Walking was challenging; stairs were truly dangerous.

Not that it wasn't worth it. She was fiercely determined to achieve an elegance to match her husband's. Fletch and his costumes were the toast of London; she would never allow it to be said that his duchess shamed him. She didn't want anyone to be sorry for her. Ever.

Naturally Fletch hadn't said a word about her costume in the carriage, though he must have realized that her gown was new. Perhaps he thought its embroidery (in shades of gold and pearl) was too formal for a morning occasion. Poppy took a deep breath. If she'd learned anything from her four years of marriage, it was that one cannot guess what a man is thinking.

She revised that thought. Certain male thoughts were crystal clear.

"Your Grace," came a deep voice at her ear. "May I escort you to the other side of the ballroom, where there is less of a crush? The Duchess of Beaumont is to be found there."

"I'd be honored," Poppy said to her host, curtsying just deeply enough to acknowledge his rank without disbalancing her hair. The Duke of Beaumont was attired in a simple coat of dark green velvet with turned-back cuffs of sage green. Of course, men rarely dressed as formally as women. She placed her hand lightly on his arm and they strolled through the ballroom, nodding at acquaintances. "I hadn't thought to see you this morning," Poppy said, before she realized that was rather impolite.

The duke-a consummate politician known jointly for his disdain for infamy and his infamous duchess, Jemma-gave a rueful smile. "Undoubtedly this party will be the scandal of the week, since it is held to celebrate a duel. To be quite truthful, in the normal run of events I would likely avoid this particular gathering. But as it is my own duchess holding the party, and in my own house, more commotion would result if I did not attend."

Poppy felt a rush of sympathy for the poor duke. He was one of the most important men in the House of Lords, a man whose conviction, eloquence and power were known all over England. The last thing he needed in his life was scandal. And though she dearly loved Jemma from their days together in Paris, she had to admit that gossip-mongers adored the Duchess of Beaumont for good reason; everything Jemma did seemed to cause a sensation. It must be difficult to be married to her.

Almost as difficult as being married to Fletch.

She froze for a second. "Are you fatigued, Your Grace?" Beaumont asked, pausing. "Would you prefer to sit down?"

"Oh no," she said, pushing thoughts about her marriage away. "I am so looking forward to seeing Jemma. I haven't seen her since before I married, when we both lived in Paris. She must be happy to find that her brother won the duel."

"Naturally we are all relieved that the occasion ended without undue bloodshed," Beaumont said evenly, his voice showing how much he disliked the idea of celebrating his brother-in-law's illegal foray into dueling. "And here is the duchess herself."

He bowed, and left. Jemma looked even more elegant than she had four years ago in Paris. Though she was wearing panniers too, her skirts weren't stiff like Poppy's but soft and flowing. And whereas Poppy's hair was curled into rigid little snail shells, Jemma's hair was shaped into soft curls, so lightly powdered that its natural gold color shone through. Her beauty had deepened; the sensual air that Poppy remembered was even more pronounced.

"Jemma," Poppy exclaimed. "How lovely you look!"

Jemma turned and gave a little shriek of welcome. "It's Poppy!" she cried, snatching her into a hug. Then she backed up and narrowed her eyes. "What has happened to the little mademoiselle I knew so well in Paris? You are exquisite! You put us all to shame. Look at us, three duchesses, and you are the only one who looks the part."

Poppy had already realized that she had grotesquely miscalculated the formality of the party. No wonder Fletch said nothing of her gown. Poppy smiled apologetically at the lady standing beside Jemma. "I'm sorry, but I don't think-"

"We've never met," she said, dropping a curtsy. "Jemma is engaging in hyperbole. I am no duchess. My name is Lady Isidore Del'Fino." Lady Isidore was wearing a gorgeous costume of soft rose-colored crêpe-de-chine. If Jemma was all sleek perfection, Lady Isidore looked like a ripe cherry, seductive and delicious. Poppy's heart sank even deeper.

"Isidore, this is the Duchess of Fletcher. Isidore is almost a duchess," Jemma said, giving Poppy's arm another affectionate squeeze. "She married by proxy and is just waiting for her duke to return from his travels."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from An Affair Before Christmas by Eloisa James Copyright © 2007 by Eloisa James. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 57 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(9)

1 Star

(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 57 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2008

    Huge disappointment

    Eloisa James is a fabulous writer, but this book is just tedious in the extreme. There are flashes of brilliance in her characters, but the plot -- if you can all the varied threads she tries to weave together a plot -- is weak and thin. If you've never read her before, try another of her titles. Even a loyal reader cannot find something nice to say about this one.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2012

    Sad

    I HAVE READ ALL OF HER BOOKS (SOME OF THEM REPEATEDLY) BUT I HAVE TO SAY I WAS NOT A FSN OF THID ONE. IT HAD TOO MANY CHARACTERS AND THE STORY DIDN'T STAY FOCUSED ON ANY ONE PAIRING. ALSO, IF A PERSON HAD NOT READ HER OTHER DESPARATE DUCHESS SERIES THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN LOST. THere were even inconsistencies with how these characters acted or with their fate than in the other books in the series. Overall disappointed and would not recommend.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2012

    Slow start

    Your halfway through the book before it gets interesting.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Hollow characters and unsatisfying plot

    An Affair Before Christmas by Eloisa James was not that intriguing. It was totally unrealistic and I wanted to put the book down and stop reading throughout the whole novel, but I have a strict rule against it. The main characters, Poppy and Fletch, are holding on to their marriage based on the fact that they were once head-over-heels in love; however, Poppy has NO personality and Fletch is trying to win her back.WHY?? After 4 years of being a limp noodle with her husband, Poppy is having so much fun seeing how it would be as an independent woman; then, she has this epiphany that it was HER that makes sex unsatisfying.whatever. I enjoy the writings of Eloisa James, but this novel is hollow in both plot and character depth.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I did not like this book..

    I of course read this book bc it is part of the Desperate Duchess series. Though if I could have skipped it I would have. This book was very hard to get into. And was very boring. I have never read a book that I hated so much. The only part that I enjoyed reading was prob chapter 45 (which btw is page 314)to the end! It was just not her best at all. And for me it was my second book to read by her. It really put me off. But I read it as quick as I could to get to the next one. And if you're going in order I'm sorry but you really must read this book bc it tells about the other characters! Sorry:(

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2007

    Terrible

    I thought that this book would get better but it never did. Why did james have to keep switching back and forth bewteen the main character and this Villiers guy. Very dissapointing, the story lacked focus.If you skip every other chapter you can just read about the main characters. I wish I could get my money back.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2007

    Disappointed Eloisa James Reader

    I am only half way through this book but wanted to check the reviews to see if it was only me who is being bored to tears. If you've read her previous Desperate Duchesses title, you'll find this one parallels the other. I thought it helpful at first, but now I feel as if she's squeezing two novels from one as she has poorly characterized the protagonists of this book. I have learned very little about Poppy & Fletch thus far and have no real connection to or concern for them. I usually enjoy Ms. James's books, but I find myself 'desperate' for the end of this one. Please don't let this review discourage you from buying any of her other titles.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    Fall in love again

    Sweet story about a couple that drift apart and then find each other.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013

    Great

    Loved the characters. Really wanted to hear what happened to Charlotte. Wonderful read.

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  • Posted February 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Loved the characters.

    Fun read for a lazy afternoon.

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  • Posted January 9, 2013

    Wow I shock what happen when you stop trying to please your read

    Wow I shock what happen when you stop trying to please your reader and it becomes about the money this is what happen I afarid wow so sad and I really thought you would sucess

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012

    Good

    Enjoyed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2011

    grreat book

    my first eloisa jamesbbooks and i loved it i just wish eloisa shud make a book with the maid charlotte and that duke cause that part never got to an ending but yhe book wasgreat:)!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2010

    I liked it

    I was a bit worried about some of the reviews on here that I might not like this book as much as the first in the series. I was happy to find that I did; I read it in less than a day. It's definitely not your typical romance, but this is obvious since you know they're already married at the beginning of the story. I enjoyed reading about all the different characters that make up the series, and am definitely looking forward to learning more about Lord Strange in the next book!

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyable

    Eloisa seems to enjoy a very involved story. I am liking how all of these books in this series take place in the general same time and different scenes appear in each book but from a different perspective. I like it. This one had very little love scenes which isn't my favorite...I like love stories.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I love all of Eloisa's books

    I love all of the books that Ms James writes. Some I do like more than others, but overall I would recommend any of her books.
    An affair Before Christmas was different than what I expected.It was however a charming love story. I would recommend it to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2007

    Enjoyable

    I enjoyed the continuation of her Desperate Duchesses story line. I don't really understand why Fletch would let his mother-in-law stay in his home and act as if she were the Duchess. He could have easily made her go. I do think we needed a bit more background on the relationship between Poppy and her mother in beginning. However, I liked how Poppy started to spread her wings and begin to understand herself better. It is an interesting question to ask how much in our lives we do because we want to and how much we do because it is expected. The sub plot story about Jennifer and Beaumont is continuing. I wish it would speed up a bit. I think it would have made a good book by itself. Villiers character has changed. I think I liked him better before but it will be interesting to see what happens between him, Charlotte,and Dautry. I will be wating for the next installment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2007

    Terrible

    This book was terrible...I usually love all Eloisa James' novels...but this was extremely BAD

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2007

    I like this author but...

    When i bought this book..i had great hopes it would be good. I was happy to see familiar characters. the story is good...but the plot is slow. It takes forever for the hero to realize some things. I am not going to reread this book as i do others from this author

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2008

    Different, in a good way

    It¿s more like a four and half stars but I¿ll round up. This is my second Eloisa James book and I love her. Her characters are unique and don¿t just fall into silly romance novel patterns. And she¿s actually unpredictable. For the first time in forever I¿m not sure what is going to happen in the next book. The fact that she jumps into the book 4 years into the marriage could be off-putting to those who want the traditional romance novel, but I found it a refreshing change. I do have a couple complaints (i.e. the 4 ½ stars). First, you have to read the first book. Half the book is about characters you wouldn¿t care less about unless you read the first one. Second, couldn¿t we have just one seen with the main couple from the first book to see how they¿re doing. That¿s the fun of series. And, third, and the biggest there is a long break where Fletch and Poppy don¿t even come into contact. They grow in a wonderful way from the experience, but the reason Fletch doesn¿t come for her right away could be better explained. The last 100 pages are fantastic.

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