Potent Pleasures (Pleasures Trilogy Series #1)

( 107 )

Overview

Nothing is more seductive than temptation.

Reckless desire sends Charlotte Daicheston into the garden with a dashing masked stranger. He's powerful, unforgettable, a devastatingly handsome footman who lures her--not against her will--into a grand indiscretion at a masquerade ball. Then he vanishes.

Several years later, after Charlotte has made her dazzling debut in London society, they meet again. But the rogue is no footman. He's rich, titled,...

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Overview

Nothing is more seductive than temptation.

Reckless desire sends Charlotte Daicheston into the garden with a dashing masked stranger. He's powerful, unforgettable, a devastatingly handsome footman who lures her--not against her will--into a grand indiscretion at a masquerade ball. Then he vanishes.

Several years later, after Charlotte has made her dazzling debut in London society, they meet again. But the rogue is no footman. He's rich, titled, and he doesn't remember Charlotte. Worse, he's the subject of some scandalous gossip: rumor has it, the earl's virility is in question.

Charlotte, who knows all too intimately the power of his passion, is stunned by the gossip that has set society ablaze. At last, there can be a storybook ending...unless, of course, Charlotte's one mad indiscretion had not been with him at all....

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"James weaves a web of scandals and surprises, forcing the reader into a delicious surrender."
--USA Today

"Unexpected twists...surprises all around."
--Publishers Weekly

"A fine debut...brings to mind the best of Amanda Quick and Judith McNaught."
--Booklist

Romantic Times
Readers will see how easily gossip and scandal can ruin a relationship in this intriguing Regency romance by a vibrant new voice in the genre who brings a slightly different slant to an era we are familiar with.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Is he or isn't he? That's the question on London society's collective mind in this slow-starting but ultimately satisfying Regency romance. Alexander Foakes, earl of Sheffield and Downes, allowed his Italian wife, Maria, to divorce him on grounds that he was impotent, but now he turns up with a baby daughter he claims is his child by Maria, who kept Pippa's birth a secret until she was dying. Charlotte Calverstill, the unmarried Lady Daicheston, can't believe he is impotent--after all, he "ruined" her in a garden three years ago before leaving for Italy--but Alex doesn't seem to remember their tryst. Nonetheless, he is smitten with the new Charlotte in her trend-setting French gowns, and since Alex requires a mother for Pippa, Charlotte is his choice. Charlotte is less than thrilled that her first lover doesn't even remember their unplanned assignation, but her hormones are drawing her back to Alex, who desperately wants a virgin bride after the debacle of his previous marriage. Thus, the stage is set for surprises all around, though dedicated Regency readers will spot developments well in advance. There are a few unexpected twists, however, and James introduces several well-integrated subplots for variety. As an independent woman with kind and understanding parents who wouldn't dream of pressuring her to marry, Charlotte may not be a realistic representative of her era, but she is an engaging heroine. The depth of characterizations, the steady progression of the plot and the tongue-in-cheek title will attract readers who may just greet James as the next Amanda Quick. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Regency historical with a flawed hero, courtesy of newcomer James. Since his return to London, Alex Foakes, the dashing Earl of Sheffield and Downes, is being called the "Ineligible Earl." It seems his wanton Italian wife, who made his life miserable and cuckolded him frequently, had their marriage annulled on grounds of impotence—all in order to run away with a defrocked priest. So happy to leave the marital state that he willingly admitted to anything, Alex brings his infant daughter back to England after his divorced wife's death from scarlet fever, amid silly rumors of his inability to continue to breed aristocrats. No one knows better that he is not a "floppy poppy" than Charlotte Calverstill, the youngest daughter of the Duke of Calverstill, whose virginity Alex took at a masquerade ball three years earlier, just before Charlotte was about to make her debut into the British ton, which she did in an ocean of blue delphiniums. Now a reigning beauty and an accomplished portrait painter, Charlotte is reunited with Alex (though he doesn't remember her, since they were both in costume). All is swell until Alex discovers that his passionate bride isn't a virgin. Having had a poor Italian experience, he abuses and humiliates Charlotte, then decides to consign her to his chilly Scottish castle for the rest of her life. And poor Charlotte can never seem to find the right time to tell him that he was her deflowerer. Though Alex changes his mind and the couple have a blissful year together, the floppy poppy once again becomes enraged when he decides that the baby he and Charlotte conceive together is in fact the child of his twin brother Patrick. Reversing himself yet again, Alex willat last wise up, just as Charlotte seems near death in childbirth. James' tale is often bright and funny, though the reader may wish for a plot not driven solely by the shims of a shallow hero.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440234562
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Series: Pleasures Trilogy Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 476,106
  • Product dimensions: 6.84 (w) x 4.12 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Eloisa James
Eloisa James is a professor of English literature who lives with her family in New Jersey. Potent Pleasures is her first novel. Her second novel, Midnight Pleasures, will be available from Delacorte Press in August 2000.
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Read an Excerpt

Kent, England
March 1798

Charlotte was one week short of seventeen when her life  changed, falling into two halves like a shiny child's ball:  before and after. In the time before, Charlotte was staying  with Julia Brentorton, her dearest friend from school. Julia and she survived  boarding school together: the dreary grind of everyday Latin instruction, music  instruction, dance instruction, art class, etiquette with the school mistress,  Lady Sipperstein. Etiquette was really the only unpleasant class.

"Julia!" Lady Sipperstein would suddenly appear behind her left  shoulder. "Cross your legs at the ankle when you sit in a low sofa.

"Walk up the stairs again, Charlotte, and do not sway your  hips this time! You are wiggling in an inappropriate fashion."

Lady Sipperstein was a terrifying woman with a bosom that extended  forward like the prow of a ship. She knew to a hair how low one must bow to a  duchess as opposed to a king, and she drilled her students as if they would do  so every day.

She was full of maxims: "One dismisses a servant as if he were a young child: with firmness, brevity, and uninterest. . . . The appropriate gifts for the sick depend on where they live: If they live on your estate, instruct the cook to make bone-marrow jelly and bring it yourself, with fruit; if they live in the village, instruct the servants to deliver an uncooked chicken instead. And of course be sure to ascertain that any illness is not contagious before you enter a house: While it is important to show feeling, one must not be foolish."

Etiquette was an hour of unnerving questions. "Julia! If a footman enters the breakfast room with an obviously swollen jaw, what is the appropriate response?"

"Send him home?" Julia would suggest tentatively.

"No! Information first. Is the swelling the result of a distressed tooth or an improper brawl the night before? If he has been brawling, dismiss him. If not? Julia?"

"Ah, send him to a doctor?" Julia stammered.

"Incorrect. Inform the butler that he should be put on duties that will keep him out of public view. There is no point in coddling servants."

For Charlotte, art class was the focus of the day. She was happiest in the white square room furnished only with twelve easels. They painted the same groupings over and over: two oranges, one lemon; two peaches, one pear. Charlotte didn't mind.

Julia did. "A pumpkin today!" she would chortle, mimicking Miss Frollip's excited tone when she introduced the latest still life.

For Julia, there was dance class--and that not because of dance, but because of Mr. Luskie. He was a rather hairy man, a family man: robust, friendly, not a bit of danger with the girls, the teachers all agreed. But Julia thought his whiskers were dashing, and she read messages in the gentle pressure of his hand as he directed her through the steps of a cotillion. "I adore him," she whispered to Charlotte at night.

Charlotte would wrinkle her nose: "I don't know, Julia, he's rather . . . well, he's not . . ." It was hard to put into words. He was common. But how not to insult Julia? She thought a bit uneasily of Julia's passionate vows of love: She wouldn't do anything, would she? Of course, Mr. Luskie wouldn't . . . but Julia was so beautiful. She was like a peach, Charlotte thought: golden and sweet-smelling and soft-looking. Would Mr. Luskie?

One of Charlotte's governesses had been stridently opinionated about men: "They want one thing, Lady Charlotte!" she would say. "One thing, and don't you forget it and get yourself ruined, now!" Charlotte would nod, wondering what the one thing was.

So she would whisper back, "I don't think he's so  handsome, Julia. Did you see that he has red veins in his cheeks?"

"No!" said Julia. "He doesn't!"

"Yes, he does," said Charlotte.

"How do you notice so much?" Julia said crossly.

Finally school drew to a close, and one by one the girls were taken off by titled relatives, or simply by maids: taken off to be fitted and prinked and "tarted up," Julia said. It was time to start a process that would end in settlements and dowries, balls and weddings.

As the daughter of a duke, Charlotte was regarded enviously. Her coming out would be magnificent. Her elder sister Violetta had made her bow to society in a ballroom draped from top to bottom with white lilies.

It was only Charlotte who didn't care much. She longed, if the truth be told, to stay in the white square room and paint another apple, or (if the market was particularly exciting that week) even a persimmon. She was good, really good, she knew she was, and Miss Frollip knew she was, but that was the end of it.

She had to come out; Julia had to come out; there would be little time for persimmons.

So when her mother picked her up at Lady Chatterton's School for Young Gentlewomen, Charlotte felt resigned, but not excited. Her mother arrived in full armor, in Charlotte's private opinion: in the ducal coach with four footmen behind. The duchess was shy and quailed at the thought of an interview with the formidable Lady Sipperstein. Poor Mama, Charlotte thought. She must have been in a terrible tizzy.

Finally Charlotte and her mother were regally dismissed by Lady Sipperstein and escaped in the coach. The duchess grinned in a most unduchesslike fashion, leaned back against the satin cushions, and said, "Thank goodness, you're finished, Charlotte! I never have to see Lady Sipperstein again! We can be comfortable. How did the last picture go, darling--oranges, wasn't it?" For Charlotte's mama was a devoted parent, who lovingly kept track of her children's latest exploits, even if in Charlotte's case that had simply turned into a long progression of watercolor fruits.

"All right, Mama," Charlotte said. "I'll show you when we get home." Charlotte frowned a bit. Her mama treated all her work the same: with reverence, delight, and a noncritical eye.

"Good," said Adelaide comfortably. "I shall send it off immediately to Saxony. We're doing quite well on that hallway, dearest. Why, two or three more and the walls will be full!"

"Now, Charlotte," Adelaide said with resolution. "We must start planning for your come out immediately. Why, I happen to know that Lady Riddleford--Isabella's mother--has already taken the weekend of April nineteenth, which was precisely when I was planning your ball, dearest. So we must choose a time immediately and make it known. I was thinking of the weekend after. What do you think, darling?" -->

Kent, England
April 1798

Charlotte was one week short of seventeen when her life changed, falling into two halves like a shiny child's ball: before and after. In the time before, Charlotte was staying with Julia Brentorton, her dearest friend from school. Julia and she survived boarding school together: the dreary grind of everyday Latin instruction, music instruction, dance instruction, art class, etiquette with the school mistress, Lady Sipperstein. Etiquette was really the only unpleasant class.

"Julia!" Lady Sipperstein would hiss, suddenly appearing behind her left shoulder. "Cross your legs at the ankle when you sit in a low sofa."

"Walk up the stairs again, Charlotte, and do not sway your hips this time! You are wiggling in an inappropriate fashion."

Lady Sipperstein was a terrifying woman with a bosom thatextended forward like the prow of a ship. She knew to a hair how low one must bow to a duchess as opposed to a king, and she drilled her students as if they would do so every day.

She was full of maxims: "One dismisses a servant as if he were a young child: with firmness, brevity, and uninterest. . . . The appropriate gifts for the sick depend on where they live: If they live on your estate, instruct the cook to make bone-marrow jelly and bring it yourself, with fruit; if they live in the village, instruct the servants to deliver an uncooked chicken instead. And of course be sure to ascertain that any illness is not contagious before you enter a house: While it is important to show feeling, one must not be foolish."

Etiquette was an hour of unnerving questions. "Julia! If a footman enters the breakfast room with an obviously swollen jaw, what is the appropriate response?"

"Send him home?" Julia would suggest tentatively.

"No! Information first. Is the swelling the result of a distressed tooth or an improper brawl the night before? If he has been brawling, dismiss him. If not? Julia?"

"Ah, send him to a doctor?" Julia stammered.

"Incorrect. Inform the butler that he should be put on duties that will keep him out of public view. There is no point in mollycoddling servants."

For Charlotte, art class was the focus of the day. She was happiest in the white square room furnished only with twelve easels. They painted the same groupings over and over: two oranges, one lemon; two peaches, one pear. Charlotte didn't mind.

Julia did. "A pumpkin today!" she would chortle, mimicking Miss Frollip's excited tone when she introduced the latest still life.

For Julia, there was dance class--and that not because of dance, but because of Mr. Luskie. He was a rather hairy man, a family man: robust, friendly, not a bit of danger with the girls, the teachers all agreed. But Julia thought his whiskers were dashing, and she read messages in the gentle pressure of his hand as he directed her through the steps of a quadrille. "I adore him," she whispered to Charlotte at night.

Charlotte would wrinkle her nose: "I don't know, Julia, he's rather . . . well, he's not . . . " It was hard to put into words. He was common; but how not to insult Julia? She thought a bit uneasily of Julia's passionate vows of love: She wouldn't do anything, would she? Of course, Mr. Luskie wouldn't . . . but Julia was so beautiful. She was like a peach, Charlotte thought: golden and sweet-smelling and soft-looking. Would Mr. Luskie?

One of Charlotte's governesses had been stridently opinionated about men: "They want one thing, Lady Charlotte!" she would say. "One thing, and don't you forget it and get yourself ruined, now!" Charlotte would nod, wondering what the one thing was.

So she would whisper back, "I don't think he's so  handsome, Julia: Did you see that he has red veins in his cheeks?"

"No!" said Julia. "He doesn't!"

"Yes, he does," said Charlotte.

"How do you notice so much?" Julia said crossly.

Finally school drew to a close, and one by one the girls were taken off by titled relatives, or simply by maids: taken off to be fitted and prinked and "tarted up," Julia said, for their debuts. It was time to start a process that would end in settlements and dowries, balls and weddings.

As the daughter of a duke, Charlotte was regarded enviously. Her debut would be magnificent. Her elder sister Violetta had made her bow to society in a ballroom draped from top to bottom with white lilies.

It was only Charlotte who didn't care much. She longed, if the truth be told, to stay in the white square room and paint another apple, or (if the market was particularly exciting that week) even a persimmon. She was good, really good, she knew she was, and Miss Frollip knew she was, but that was the end of it.

She had to debut; Julia had to debut; there would be little time for persimmons.

So when her mother picked her up at Lady Chatterton's School for Girls, Charlotte felt resigned, but not excited. Her mother arrived in full armor, in Charlotte's private opinion: in the ducal coach with four footmen behind, all in livery! The duchess was shy and quailed at the thought of an interview with the formidable Lady Sipperstein. Poor Mama, Charlotte thought. She must have been in a terrible tizzy.

Finally Charlotte and her mother were regally dismissed by Lady Sipperstein and escaped in the coach. The duchess grinned in a most unduchesslike fashion, leaned back against the satin cushions, and said, "Thank goodness, you're finished, Charlotte! I never have to see Lady Sipperstein again! We can be comfortable. How did the last picture go, darling--oranges, wasn't it?" For Charlotte's mama was a devoted parent, who lovingly kept track of her children's latest exploits, even if in Charlotte's case that had simply turned into a long progression of watercolor fruits.

"All right, Mama," Charlotte said. "I'll show you when we get home." Charlotte frowned a bit. Her mama treated all her work the same: with reverence, delight, and a noncritical eye.

"Good," said Adelaide comfortably. "I shall send it off immediately to Saxony. We're doing quite well on that hallway, dearest. Why, two or three more and the walls will be full!"

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 107 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(38)

4 Star

(36)

3 Star

(18)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 109 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2011

    Her other books are much better

    I could get past the historical inaccuracies if the hero hadn't been so emotionally and verbally abusive. That isn't love and I don't care what kind of past a man has that gives him an excuse in his mind for that kind of behavior. He obviously didn't like or respect women in general. Then he leaves his very young daughter, who has such extreme separation anxiety that he won't leave her for one waking moment, and heads to Scotland without even telling her goodbye. What a great dad. But all of this behavior is okay because he feels really bad about it afterward. Typical abuser mentality which is only reinforced by his doormat of a wife who keeps instantly forgiving him for his abuse. This is not a romance, it is a sad cautionary tale on dysfunctional relationships. Ms. James has written many books that I do like but this is not one of them.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    While this was an enjoyable read, there was far too much in the

    While this was an enjoyable read, there was far too much in the way of easily-avoidable misunderstandings and contrivances to warrant anything about two stars, in my opinion.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Not Her Best - Unlikable Hero/Heroine

    I really like some of Eloisa James' other works, but I couldn't get into this one. It started out strong, but I found myself unable to like or care about Charlotte or Alex. Their relationship was too contrived, too unbelievable. Disappointing.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted September 15, 2004

    Not my kinda guy

    I gave this two stars, not one, because I thought the writing was excellent. I couldn't give it any more than that because the hero was repellant--vile outbursts of verbal abuse, always willing, even eager, to believe the worst of the heroine--and she just kept coming back for more.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted April 18, 2011

    i like it

    i liked the books endjng but the guy is a total jerk he calls his wife notty things on their weddng what a jerk if i were charlotte i wudnt of forgivin bim but either than tnat it was a cute storie:)

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Loved this book

    Potent Pleasures is a great read!!!!! A page turner, romance, sensual, funny, characters are great!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2006

    A bit too long

    I thought the book was too long. I'm actually a very big fan of longer books, especially Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. But the problem with this book is that too much time is spent on periphery characters who don't matter. The first few pages are spent describing Charlotte's friend Julia, which would be fine if she were more integral to the story. But she's just the catalyst that allows Charlotte and Alex to meet. Also, the beginning is just a bit hard to get into. Charlotte was so restless and all she cared about was painting her fruit. It was only when she knew her life needed a change that the book started to really pick up. The sparks between Alex and Charlotte were so amazing. It was such an intensely dramatic story. It wasn't as romantic as I would have liked because Alex had such a terrible distrust of women. Some of the things he said to Charlotte were awful. But he was a really tormented soul. Charlotte may have forgiven him a bit too easily but that's the nature of love. And he does feel intensely guilty once he knows he was wrong about her.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted February 10, 2005

    Potent Pleasures

    This was a definite page-turner, but the hero, Alexander Foakes, whom I tried to like,was just so mean. Charlotte was clearly terrified of him, as any woman would have been. Charlotte, however, was lovely.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2013

    Loved it!

    Wonderful story! Only downfall was that Charlotte's quick forgiveness, not once but twice, is a bit unbelievable. I still loved the book! Eloisa James is an incredible author!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 12, 2013

    Beware of Masked Balls in old buildings...

    A masked ball,a young woman,alcohol,and a masked gentleman. Perfect ingredients for love. Just takes a while... All 3 books in the series are FABULOUS!!!

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

    Posted May 11, 2013

    Very Good Plot

    Just when you think things are going well -- things get complicated again! I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in this series.

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

    Posted May 2, 2013

    Read it years ago

    Its still ok

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

    Posted April 17, 2013

    Nor the usual for Eloisa

    There was too much sub writing of the other characters thoughts. It made the writing seem scattered.

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

    Posted April 14, 2013

    Jtu

    Kti
    Hu

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted April 13, 2013

    Terrible

    Bleeh

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted April 13, 2013

    Well written

    Could not relate either to characters or the situations they got themselves into.

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

    Posted April 10, 2013

    I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed this

    I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed this book...especially after the many negative comments I read about the 
    main characters.  The majority of the book was about the "chase".  Alex trying to get Charlotte to marry him.
    I can't completely agree with all the reviews about Alex and Charlotte.   Alex does overreact and says things (he later
    regrets) in anger.  Getting angry and overreacting is a very HUMAN flaw.  Do I think he could use some anger management skills?  Yes.
    Do I think he's mentally abusive?  No.   Did I think Charlotte forgave him a little to easily?  Yes.  But did I think he doesn't deserve to be
    forgiven?  NO!  I just think she should have made him grovel a little more.  I thought Charlotte was sweet and STRONG. 

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

    Posted January 22, 2013

    Read the series

    Love Eloisa James' books. Loved Alex even when he was being such an idiot!

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

    Posted January 9, 2013

    Great story

    Alex and Charlotte's story is both highly rewarding to read and frustrating (in a good way). You know they will work out their misunderstandings with each other (obviously since it is a romance novel), but sometimes it feels like they never will. Their relationship is one of my favorites from Eloisa James. You get to follow them through the rest of the trilogy as well. Great read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 25, 2011

    Fantastic read!

    One of my very favorite authors. The rest of the series is quite good as well.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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