When the Duke Returns (Desperate Duchesses Series #4) [NOOK Book]

Overview

The Duchess of Cosway yearns for a man she has never met . . . her husband.

Married by proxy as a child, Lady Isidore has spent years fending off lecherous men in every European court while waiting to meet her husband. She's determined to accept him, no matter how unattractive the duke turns out to be. When she finally lures Simeon Jermyn back to London, his dark handsomeness puts Isidore's worst fears to ...

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When the Duke Returns (Desperate Duchesses Series #4)

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Overview

The Duchess of Cosway yearns for a man she has never met . . . her husband.

Married by proxy as a child, Lady Isidore has spent years fending off lecherous men in every European court while waiting to meet her husband. She's determined to accept him, no matter how unattractive the duke turns out to be. When she finally lures Simeon Jermyn back to London, his dark handsomeness puts Isidore's worst fears to rest—until disaster strikes.

The duke demands an annulment.

Forsaking his adventuresome past, Simeon has returned to London ready to embrace the life of a proper duke, only to find that his supposed wife is too ravishing, too headstrong, and too sensual to be the docile duchess he has in mind. But Isidore will not give up her claim to the title—or him—without a fight.

She will do whatever it takes to capture Simeon's heart, even if it means sacrificing her virtue. After all, a consummated marriage cannot be annulled.

Yet in forcing Simeon into a delicious surrender, will Isidore risk not only her dignity—but her heart?

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Simeon Jermyn, Duke of Cosway, long absent on a globe-spanning spiritual quest of his own, is called home by his wife, Isidore, to take care of his sadly neglected ducal duties, including the husbandly ones. But Simeon and Isidore were married by proxy when she was 12 and have never met. The last thing she expects is a virgin hero who wants to wait until they have a "real" wedding to consummate their marriage. Values, cultures, and conduct clash in this intense, electric romance as two disparate people learn the real meaning of love. James (Duchess by Night) has given readers another smart, bawdy Georgian tale, the fourth in her popular "Desperate Duchesses" series. She lives in the New York City area.


—Kristin Ramsdell
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061980152
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Series: Desperate Duchesses Series , #4
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 32,413
  • File size: 756 KB

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

When the Duke Returns

Chapter One

Gore House, Kensington
London Seat of the Duke of Beaumont
February 21, 1784

"He's a virgin."

"What!"

"He's a virgin and—"

"Your husband is a virgin?"

"And he won't bed me."

Jemma, Duchess of Beaumont, sank into a chair with a look of almost comical dismay on her face. "Darling, if there ever were grounds for annulment, these are they. Or this is it," she added with some confusion. "Is he some sort of monk?"

Isidore shook her head. "Not that I'm able to see. He says he will bed me eventually—just not until we're married."

"But you are married!"

"Exactly. I may call myself Lady Del'Fino, but the truth of the matter is that in the eyes of the law, I'm Duchess of Cosway." Isidore dropped into a chair opposite her friend. "We've been married for eleven years, last I counted. And it's hardly my fault that my husband is still a virgin. If he hadn't been chasing all over Africa looking for the source of the Blue Nile, we could be utterly bored with each other, like other wellbred English couples."

Jemma blinked at her. "It's unbelievable. Un-believable."

"I spent the last seven years fending off lechers in every court in Europe, waiting for him to return home, and what does he do? Decide we're not truly married."

"So why didn't he fall directly into your bed, virgin or no?"

Isidore glanced at herself in Jemma's glass. Men had lusted for her ever since she turned sixteen, and the particulars hadn't changed: black hair, pale skin, generous bosom. In short, something short of Venus,but delectable enough to send most men into a lustful frenzy.

"One has to assume that Cosway is fascinated by the exotic," Jemma continued, "and you have such a deliciously un-English look about you. Your eyes are a gorgeous shape, not like the little raisins most of us have."

"I don't think of myself as exotic," Isidore said, "and more to the point, he seems to want someone more skilled in a domestic capacity. Not more than ten minutes after we met—for the first time!—he inquired whether I had been doing any weaving lately. Weaving? Was I supposed to whip out a spindle and sew a fine seam?"

"Even I know that one doesn't sew with a spindle, which implies that Cosway has a gross disappointment in store if he's counting on your domestic skills," Jemma said, laughing. "Perhaps he's the type that babbles when faced by a desirable woman. It's a surprisingly common affliction."

"Believe me, I was watching him closely, and he gave no sign of being overcome by lust."

"Even Beaumont, who hardly notes anything outside the House of Lords, told me after my masquerade that you had the most beautiful mouth of any woman in England."

"Beaumont said that?" Isidore said, feeling a little thrill of pleasure. "That's nice. Though I have to say, Jemma, I shouldn't like my husband to praise other women to my face."

Jemma shrugged. "According to your own assessment, as a well-bred English couple, we are merely adhering to type. I don't think you should panic, Isidore. I expect Cosway is madly attracted to you and he's just conveying his deep respect by holding a ceremony in front of a bishop."

"He's deranged," Isidore said flatly. "It must have been all that sun in Africa. We married by proxy, but it was still a marriage. I was only twelve years old, but I remember it perfectly well."

"Well," Jemma said, rallying, "maybe the duke wants a romantic ceremony now that he's returned."

"And maybe he's utterly mad and bizarre," Isidore said, putting her fear into words. "What sort of man stays a virgin until he's near to thirty? That's almost disgusting. How am I supposed to introduce him to the bedroom, Jemma? Men do this sort of thing on their own. Honestly, if he's never used his equipment—well, who's to say that it will function at all?"

Silence answered her.

Isidore could feel her eyes growing hot. "I just want to have my husband go to bed with me so that I can be a proper duchess, use my title, and have a child. Is that too much to ask?"

Jemma reached over and took one of her hands. "No. I'm sorry, darling."

Tears started sliding down Isidore's cheeks. "I was never unfaithful to Cosway. The Comte de Salmont told me—in rhymed couplets—that I was more delicious than a 1764 cognac, and given his cellars, that was a true compliment. I finally returned to Italy because Salmont was so extravagant in his pursuit, but I didn't sleep with him, even when he threatened to kill himself." She sniffed, and Jemma handed her a handkerchief.

"I kept to my part of the bargain, although any woman in her right mind would expect her husband to show himself when she came of age."

"Childhood marriages are a huge mistake," Jemma said. "I shall never allow Beaumont to arrange one for a child of ours. People should be adults when they marry."

"I'm not fussy. Truly I'm not. I may have flirted with men as handsome as Salmont, but I like men of other types too. Even short ones. I've told myself for years that no matter how Cosway looked when he finally staggered out of the jungle, I would do my marital part charitably if not enthusiastically. But—"

"Is he unacceptable?" Jemma asked with some curiosity.

"Oh, oh—no," Isidore said. "That's not the point. His looks are irrelevant. He's manifestly odd. Odd!"

"I have another idea. Perhaps Cosway is just too intelligent to have interested himself in carnal matters."

Isidore gave her a watery smile. "Show me the man who's too intelligent to use his tool, and I'll show you a dunce." The words came out more harshly than she intended.

"The most obvious explanation is that he's following some sort of religious law. Did he say anything about going to church? Likely he's a Puritan. Aren't they terrifyingly severe when it comes to base appetites?"

When the Duke Returns. Copyright © by Eloisa James. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 64 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(27)

4 Star

(23)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 64 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 24, 2008

    Good continuing story of the Duchesses.

    This was a book that although was interesting, didn't have much spice to it. The heroine finds herself in a situation she did not expect after 11 years waiting for her husband, and Simeon is not what most hero is like. He's not like the Duke of V. nor Duke of B. Isabelle, I found in the previous stories to be unique however, in her book bland. Although a good read to catch up on characters and a fun laugh or two, the most interesting aspect of this book is not the two main character's development over the course of 350 pages but the side characters. <BR/>I actually turned the pages not for Simeon and Isabelle, but for Jemma and the Duke of B and V. Their development was most profound and emotional. Although Jemma won't get her book until June 2009, I felt this book was more centered towards her and set up her upcoming story, which left Isabelle short of her own novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2014

    Really great

    The social scenes were so well written. Loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2013

    Loved it!

    I loved this book! I couldnt wait for their story, after reading alittle about them in earlier books in the series. I love these two characters, very cleverstoryline, good dialogue. And loved the continuing thread of Jemma & Elijahs story. Cant wait to r ead the next book about them!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    READ THIS!!!!!!!!!!!! please?

    I loved this book. I own it in paperback and when i read this book last year i fell in love. Simeon is amazing and thinks that the wife he just met is to much for him to handle. Isadore on the other hand is attracted to her husband when she first lays eyes on him. She doesnt waant an annulment and so she tries to seduce him. It doesnt work until she undresses right out front of him.

    I RECCOMMEND THIS TO EVERYONE WHO LOVES LOVE STORIES WITH CRIMINALS A CRAZY MOTHER AND A HUSBAND WHO WILL MAKE LOVE TO HIS WIFE * ANYWHERE * ( even in a princes carriage )

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  • Posted January 18, 2013

    If you're considering buying this book, PLEASE DO!! It was a fun

    If you're considering buying this book, PLEASE DO!! It was a funny book filled with crazy parents (dead and alive), a crumbling mannor, the near impossible situation a of virgin wife who waited for her husband 11 years,  a virgin husband who had traveled the world and became a member of a crazy cult, mixed all with capoeira, action...adventure...and again crazy situations. Just still can't believe the crazyness of the dead duke and the elder duchess.  I love Eloisa James' books but this one is my favorite!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2011

    Good book

    This is not my favorite writer, because I think her books a little slowly for my taste, but I liked this a lot more than the Duchess by Night. It is a little different romance, with different characters.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Waiting Waiting Waiting. Always a bride never a wife.

    Eloisa James is addictive. If you read one of her novels, you are obliged to read them all. Dukes and Duchesses abound. If you like English romances with a twist, you must read these.

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great book!

    Once again Eloisa James excels herself. An exciting and touching story. She is one of the best historical romance writers ever.
    She creates her own world were if it was real I would like to live in. I like the way she has chapters with pieces of the story of her next book. I have read most of this series and I love it!
    Can't wait for her next book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Never read a story on this line!

    To have been married as a child, would have been rather crazy! But Isidore does what she must to keep the title. And her husband is def eccentric! Once they meet again this time like 12 yrs later you have no clue as to how the story will be. But James does a wonderful job of telling their crazy, exciting, dramatic tale. I would def read this book again and again. One of my fav parts is the stuff about the water closets.. Ha ha. How they could have lived like that back then is amazing to me.. Enjoy this book!

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  • Posted July 8, 2009

    Good Read

    This my first book by Eloisa James. Plot summary seemed awesome; I think I would have liked it better had the "Lord" in question not been as inexperienced - somehow it's a little hard to believe that two inexperienced individuals could create such high passion as is needed to make up a decent romance novel.

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

    Posted May 9, 2009

    One word...

    Horrible.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    Great book!

    I have read many of Eloisa James's books and i was very pleased when i read this one. This continued the intertwined stories of the other characters which i loved. I had a lot of trouble even putting the book down. I love books that catch my attention so much that i just want to read it until its finished. This story was a sweet one because it was unlike the plots that i have read before. Very original.

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  • Posted February 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    when the duke returns by eloisa james

    I really enjoy her style of writing because the characters are always quircky.There is always something off about them but in a good way. I also love an author who does series and she is in that catagory. If you like women characters who are not stereotypical and flawed but lovable male characters then her books are definetly for you.

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  • Posted January 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    When The Duke Returns by Eloisa James

    Reviewed for queuemyreview.com; book release Dec08<BR/><BR/>Just how long is `too¿ long to wait for your man? In times of yore (it¿s a historical!) there existed a practice of marriage by proxy. Meaning one member (usually the man) wasn¿t actually present at the ceremony but the couple was considered legally wed. Then once the absent member showed up and consummated the marriage, all was normal. Eloisa James uses the concept of a proxy marriage in her latest book, ¿When the Duke Returns¿. Her heroine has waited twelve years for her husband the Duke to return and validate their marriage. Twelve years?! <BR/><BR/>Isidore is a Duchess¿well, kind of¿and she¿s fed up with waiting for her errant husband to come home to England. Her plan is fairly simple. She will feign misbehavior to bring him home and then seduce him. It doesn¿t really matter what he looks like, after all he is a Duke. She won¿t have any problems seducing him, after all she¿s been lauded as a beauty since she first put her hair up. She¿ll have her children, do Duchessy things, and then, as far as Isidore is concerned, her husband the Duke can go right back to Africa or wherever. She¿ll continue her London life fully invested as a Duchess. See, simple plan. What man doesn¿t want to `do it¿?<BR/><BR/>Simeon has returned to England to take over his duties as the Duke. His first duty is to take charge of his wife, er¿future wife. See, Simeon wants to get to know and develop feelings for his `wife¿ and then remarry before consummating their union. He has held on to his chastity to stay healthy but he has always dreamed of what his wife would be like. She¿ll be quiet, demure, and docile and he¿ll have no problems keeping to the philosophy of `the Middle Way¿¿no strong feelings like anger, lust, or fear. When he first catches sight of his `wife¿, he¿s pretty sure he just lost the `lust¿ part of his `Middle Way¿. And after only a few meetings, he¿s pretty sure that with Isidore, anger and fear won¿t be far behind. <BR/><BR/>I spent quite a bit of time laughing as I read about the titanic struggle between these two. Their verbal exchanges were sharp and scintillating, but it was the author¿s revelation of their inner dialogues that explained the most about their motivations and intentions. The plot intensifies as each character figures out what they really want as opposed to what they¿d always `thought¿ they wanted¿and why. Very nicely done. There are also several appearances by (mostly) heroines from earlier books who help move the plot along. An evolving secondary romance is just the icing on the cake.<BR/><BR/>Eloisa James¿ historical romances are always a treat to read. The witty wordplay between primary and secondary characters and her wonderfully descriptive period vocabulary draws the reader into the world of her heroes and heroines¿and it¿s a very fun place to visit. ¿When The Duke Returns¿ is another engaging story from one of historical romance¿s bigger names.

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  • Posted January 8, 2009

    Love Eloisa James!

    I've read all her books and couldn't wait for this one. I read it in a day! All her characters are intertwines which makes reading her novels all the more fun. The lead males are eventually everything women want...after those said women show them the way.:)

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  • Posted January 3, 2009

    Lots of Fun

    A fun and funny book. Easy read. Very entertaining. My first read of this author but I will definitely read others.

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  • Posted December 26, 2008

    not her best, or worst

    I usually love James' books but this last series hasn't grabbed me. I agree with another reviewer that you actually start reading for Jemma's story more than Isidore's. Though I hate the morals of the time, I keep hoping for redemption for the majority of characters, even if they don't seem to think they need it! James always puts so many interesting historical facts in that you feel like you've been to a history class by the end...something I wish more authors could accomplish. But this one REALLY focuses on 18th century indoor plumbing and I could have dealt without some of the details! <BR/>Her sex scenes kind of fizzled in this novel. I know her hero is very inexperienced but it still seemed a little more awkward than endearing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 8, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Read

    When the Duke Returns was a good read. It wasn't what I expected and it didn't pick up until the end, but I liked it. I was expecting it to be more like Harriet's story, but again I still enjoyed it. I always enjoy Eloisa's books.

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  • Posted December 4, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    poignant, relaxing read

    I love all of Eloisa James books. Return of the Duke was such an easy, sit back in your chair read. And as usual there was humor that brought numerous smiles to my lips and all out shouts of laughter. Can't wait to read Jemma and Elijah's story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Funny and Sweet. Worth the read!!

    Super sweet. i laughed do many times out loud at this book. Its a very easy read. Not overly emotional but very charmiing. Read it in one sitting its worth picking up.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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