Much Ado about You (Essex Sisters Series #1)

Much Ado about You (Essex Sisters Series #1)

3.9 54
by Eloisa James
     
 

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When you're the oldest daughter, you don't get to have any fun!

Witty, orphaned Tess Essex faces her duty: marry well and marry quickly, so she can arrange matches for her three sisters — beautiful Annabel, romantic Imogen and practical Josie. After all, right now they're under the rather awkward guardianship of the perpetually tipsy Duke of Holbrook.

Overview

When you're the oldest daughter, you don't get to have any fun!

Witty, orphaned Tess Essex faces her duty: marry well and marry quickly, so she can arrange matches for her three sisters — beautiful Annabel, romantic Imogen and practical Josie. After all, right now they're under the rather awkward guardianship of the perpetually tipsy Duke of Holbrook. But just when she begins to think that all might end well, one of her sisters bolts with a horse-mad young lord, and her own fiancé just plain runs away.

Which leaves Tess contemplating marriage to the sort of man she wishes to avoid — one of London's most infamous rakes. Lucius Felton is a rogue whose own mother considers him irredeemable! He's delicious, Annabel points out. And he's rich, Josie notes. But although Tess finally consents to marry him, it may be for the worst reason of all. Absurd as she knows it to be, she may have fallen utterly in love . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Reviewers have compared James's Regency-era romances (Your Wicked Ways, etc.) to Sex and the City, but her effervescent voice is somewhat subdued in this first installment of her new series, focusing on four squabbling sisters. After their father passes away, Tess, Imogen, Annabel and Josie Essex find themselves impoverished, uprooted and taken under the wing of a benevolent duke. As the eldest and most sensible, Tess decides she must marry so that she can help support her sisters. But who should she wed? Garret Langham, an earl who seems to admire, though not lust after, her? Or the untitled but ber-wealthy Lucius Felton, who hides his emotions behind a mask of cool civility, save for when he kisses her? Tess is mildly conflicted but generally content to go along with whatever fate throws her way, which makes her a less than inspiring heroine. What she lacks in character is more than made up for by Lucius, however, who possesses a quiet intensity and magnetic presence. The chemistry between the two easily overshadows the rather tenuous camaraderie that Tess and her sisters share. Sex and the City gals they are not; they bicker constantly and rarely connect on a sisterly or even friendly level. But though the book isn't as spry as James's earlier novels, it contains a romance that will induce sighs of satisfaction. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. (Jan.) Forecast: James will be receiving plenty of publicity at the start of '05, when she reveals her true identity as Mary Bly, a professor of Shakespeare at Fordham University. A booking on CNN American Morning and spotlights in various newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, will help ensure that the book sells a decent portion of its 500,000 first printing. For more on James's "coming out," see Book News, Dec. 13. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060732066
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/28/2004
Series:
Essex Sisters Series, #1
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
90,375
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Much ADO about You


By James, Eloisa

Avon Books

ISBN: 0060732067

Chapter One

September 1816
Holbrook Court, seat of the Duke of Holbrook
On the outskirts of Silchester

In the afternoon

"I am happy to announce that the rocking horses have been delivered, Your Grace. I have placed them in the nursery for your inspection. As yet, there is no sign of the children."

Raphael Jourdain, Duke of Holbrook, turned. He had been poking a fire smoldering in the cavernous fireplace of his study. There was a reserved tone in his butler's voice that signaled displeasure. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Brinkley's tone signaled the disgruntlement of the entire household of elderly servants, not one of whom was enchanted by the idea of accommodating themselves to the presence of four small, female children. Well, the hell with that, Rafe thought. It wasn't as if he'd asked to have a passel of youngsters on the premises.

"Rocking horses?" came a drawling voice from a deep chair to the right of the fireplace. "Charming, Rafe. Charming. One can't start too early making the little darlings interested in horseflesh." Garret Langham, the Earl of Mayne, raised his glass toward his host. His black curls were in exquisite disarray, his comments arrogant to a fault, and his manners barely hid a seething fury. Not that he was furious at Rafe; Mayne had been in a slow burn for the past few months. "To Papa and his brood of infantequestriennes," he added, tossing back his drink.

"Stubble it!" Rafe said, but without much real animosity. Mayne was a damned uncomfortable companion at the moment, what with his poisonous comments and black humor. Still, one had to assume that the foul temper caused by the shock of being rejected by a woman would wear off in a matter of time.

"Why the plural, as in rocking horses?" Mayne asked. "As I recall, most nurseries contain only one rocking horse."

Rafe took a gulp of his brandy. "I don't know much about children," he said, "but I distinctly remember my brother and me fighting over our toys. So I bought four of them."

There was a second's silence during which the earl considered whether to acknowledge the fact that Rafe obviously still missed his brother (dead these five years, now). He dismissed the impulse. Manlike, he observed no bene- fit to maudlin conversation.

"You're doing those orphans proud," he said instead. "Most guardians would stow the children out of sight. It's not as if they're your blood."

"There's no amount of dolls in the world that will make up for their situation," Rafe said, shrugging. "Their father should have thought of his responsibilities before he climbed on a stallion."

The conversation was getting dangerously close to the sort of emotion to be avoided at all costs, so Mayne sprang from his chair. "Let's have a look at the rocking horses, then. I haven't seen one in years."

"Right," Rafe said, putting his glass onto the table with a sharp clink. "Brinkley, if the children arrive, bring them upstairs, and I'll receive them in the nursery."

A few minutes later the two men stood in the middle of a large room on the third floor, dizzily painted with murals. Little Bo Peep chased after Red Riding Hood, who was surely in danger of being crushed by the giant striding across the wall, his raised foot lowering over a feather bed sporting a huge green pea under the coverlet. The room resembled nothing so much as a Bond Street toy shop. Four dolls with spun gold hair sat primly on a bench. Four doll beds were propped atop each other, next to four doll tables, on which sat four jack-in-the-boxes. In the midst of it all was a group of rocking horses graced with real horsehair and coming almost to a man's waist.

"Jesus," Mayne said.

Rafe strode into the room and stamped on the rocker of one of the horses, making it clatter back and forth on the wooden floor. A door on the side of the room swung open, and a plump woman in a white apron poked her head out.

"There you are, Your Grace," she said, beaming. "We're just waiting for the children. Would you like to meet the new maids now?"

"Send them on in, Mrs. Beeswick."

Four young nursemaids crowded into the room after her. "Daisy, Gussie, Elsie, and Mary," said the nanny. "They're from the village, Your Grace, and pleased to have a position at Holbrook Court. We're all eager for the little cherubs to arrive." The nursemaids lined up to either side of Mrs. Beeswick, smiling and curtsying.

"Jesus," Mayne repeated. "They won't even share a maid, Rafe?"

"Why should they? My brother and I had three nurses between us."

"Three?"

"Two for my brother, ever since he turned duke at age seven, and one for me."

Mayne snorted. "That's absurd. When's the last time you met your wards' father, Lord Brydone?"

"Not for years," Rafe said, picking up a jack-in-the-box and pressing the lever so that it hopped from its box with a loud squeak. "The arrangement was just a matter of a note from him and my reply."

"You have never met your own wards?"

"Never. I haven't been over the border in years, and Brydone only came down for the Ascot, the Silchester, and, sometimes, Newmarket. To be honest, I don't think he really gave a damn for anything other than his stables. He didn't even bother to list his children in Debrett's. Of course, since he had four girls, there was no question of inheritance. The estate went to some distant cousin."

"Why on earth—" Mayne glanced at the five women standing to the side of the room and checked himself.

"He asked me," Rafe said, shrugging. "I didn't think twice of it. Apparently Monkton had been in line, but he cocked up his toes last year ... Continues...


Excerpted from Much ADO about You by James, Eloisa 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.

Meet the Author

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. She is the mother of two and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight. Visit her at www.eloisajames.com.

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Much Ado about You 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Lisa_RR_H More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this Regency romance despite it being a variety of the marriage of convenience trope. The style wasn't bad in romance terms--not flowery or purple anyway even if with the too often seen point of view glitches. I liked the period detail, literary allusions and how life among the horsey set figured in. The author says it was inspired by Little Women and I could see that in the way the four Scottish sisters featured in the novel; they felt like sisters in how they interacted and each had a distinct personality. It was refreshing to read a romance novel where the heroine had important relationships with other women. First book in a series about the sisters. Not sure I'll ever look the rest up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would have liked to mark this a 4 star book but it fell a little short towards the end. I thought the book was great and moved along at a great pace until the end. There it just sota flew by. I would have liked to know what happened between Tess and her sister Imogen between her leaving the funeral and having two kids. I mean they made a big deal out of the fact that her sisters where going to go to london and live with her after things settles with Imogen, well did they go or not? I also don't like the fact that I have to wait a year to find out what happens to her other sisters. I have read other books by Eloisa James and have enjoyed them all and will continue to read her but I am hoping she writes the other books alittle differently. Oh one last thing can't wait to see if she writes another book about Imogen and if so how she explains her behavior.
skelley55 11 months ago
I really like this book and am looking forward to reading the entire series. Tess and Lucien are great characters, in fact the only character I was not fond of was Draven Maitland
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ilike this author, have loved some of her books. This one was ok, slow to get going, hard to warm up to. I liked the sisters and was intrigued by their story, but the male lead was hard to warm up to. Pretty bland storyline, overall forgettable.
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Its ok ...felt was too slow and i read excessively! Not one of her best! She has written better! ....best wishes!
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TxKrissy08 More than 1 year ago
I luv it. For me it's the best in the series! A definite re-Read.
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