A Wild Pursuit (Duchess Quartet Series #3)

A Wild Pursuit (Duchess Quartet Series #3)

by Eloisa James

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060508128
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/24/2004
Series: Duchess Quartet Series , #3
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 119,282
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.04(d)

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

A Wild Pursuit

Chapter One

In Which Scandal Brews in Wiltshire

Shantill House
Limpley-Stoke, Wiltshire

It is a truth universally acknowledged by women that it is far easier to dress when the point is to cover one's body, than when one desires to leave expanses of flesh delectably uncovered.

In the days of Esme Rawlings's reign over London society, it took her hours to clothe herself. She would emerge as a caterpillar from its coccoon: silky black curls gleaming over pearly shoulders, bodice miraculously suspended in air at the very moment of dropping to her waist, delectable curves swathed in a fabric so light and revealing that many gentlemen weakened at the knees at her very sight. Other gentlemen stiffened. It was all a matter of constitution.

These days it took precisely twenty minutes to throw on enough clothing to cover herself, and gentlemen in her vicinity never showed reaction beyond a sharpish discomfort at the apparition of a woman with a stomach the size of a large cannonball.

"I am plump as a pork pudding," Esme said, peering at herself in the mirror over her dressing table.

"I wouldn't say that," her aunt said with her characteristic drawl. Viscountess Withers was seated in a small chair, riffling through her reticule. "Drat, I cannot find my handkerchief."

"Stupendously stout," Esme said disconsolately.

"You are carrying a babe," Arabella said, looking up and narrowing her eyes. Clearly a pair of pince-nez would have come in handy, but spectacles were inconceivable, given the dictates of fashion. "I never liked the look of it. But you, my dear, might go far to changing my mind. How dare you look so delightful? Perhaps your example will finish the ridiculous habit of women confining themselves. Such a punitive word, confinement."

"Oh pooh," Esme said, rather rudely. "I am reaching elephantine proportions. No one would wish to see me on the streets of London."

"I believe that your size is normal, not that I've had much to do with childbearing. In fact, this is the first time I have seen a woman so close to her time. So when do you expect it, my dear? Tomorrow?"

"Babies aren't like house guests, Aunt Arabella. They choose their own moment, or so I gather. The midwife seems to think it might be a matter of a few weeks." Privately, Esme thought the midwife had to be mistaken. If she grew any larger, she'd be confined to a bath chair, like the Prince of Wales when he had the gout.

"Well! Here I am, ready to help in every way!" Arabella threw out her hands as if she expected to catch the baby in midair. Esme had to grin at that. Arabella was her very favorite relative, and not only because her reputation was as scandalous as Esme's own. "It's very kind of you to visit me, Aunt Arabella. Not to mention positively self-sacrificing in the midst of the season."

"Nonsense! One can have just as much pleasure outside of London. Even in Wiltshire, if one applies oneself. I knew that you would be quite dreary in the country all by yourself. Always struck me as a foolish habit, women rusticating themselves in the wilderness merely because they're carrying a babe. The French are much more sensible. Marie Antoinette was dancing up to the moment she gave birth."

"I suppose so," Esme said, wondering whether a black gown would diminish the look of her waist. She was no longer in full mourning, and the idea of returning to blacks was dispiriting. But then, so was her girth.

"I took the liberty of asking just a few persons to follow me tomorrow," her aunt went on briskly. "We shall dine alone tonight, unless Stephen Fairfax-Lacy joins us in time. I suppose you know that your friend the Duchess of Girton is enceinte? If she births a male, obviously Fairfax-Lacy will lose his title. Mind you, it was only an honorary one, but having had it for eight years at least, the man will probably feel as if he's lost his hair. We'll have to cheer him up, won't we, darling?"

Esme looked up, startled. "Fairfax-Lacy? I am not in a position to entertain a house party, particularly one which includes a man I have only the slimmest acquaintance with!"

Arabella ignored her. "And of course I've brought my dame de compagnie with me. Why be on our lonesome when we needn't? It is the season, but I fancy that my invitation outweighs any tedious little parties that might be occuring in London."

"But Aunt Arabella, this is not entirely suitable--"

"Nonsense! I shall take care of everything. In fact, I already have. I brought some of my staff with me, dearest, because there are such terrible difficulties with people hired in the country, are there not?"

"Oh," Esme said, wondering how her butler, Slope, had taken this news. The extra footmen might come in handy if she was reduced to being hoisted about in a chair.

"As I said, a very few persons will follow tomorrow, just to enliven dinner, if nothing else. Of course, we won't hold any public gatherings, or perhaps only a very, very small one, because of your condition."

"But—"

"Now darling," Arabella said, patting her hand, "I've brought you a basket absolutely full of the latest creams and soaps made by that Italian man, the one with the funny little shop in the Blackfriars. They are all absolutely efficacious. You must try them immediately! Your mother's skin was disastrous when she was carrying you." She peered at Esme's face. "But yours appears to be remarkable. Ah well, you always did take after me. Now, I shan't expect you downstairs until dinner ...

A Wild Pursuit. Copyright © by Eloisa James. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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A Wild Pursuit 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Pamelak31 More than 1 year ago
Since this is the 3rd book in the series, we tend to know a lot about the supporting cast, and in this case Fairfax-Lacy, our hero. In the first in the series, our hero is introduced as the cousin of Camden. They go in to great detail about their time spent together as "children". However, if we are to believe that Fairfax-Lacy is 43 years old, then when Camden was a teen, he would have been over 18 and hardly spending his days fishing and hiding from a young, annoying, girl. The inconsistency bothers me. It seems he has been aged many years in order to make this story work, and for me it just doesn't work. I really enjoyed the first 2 books in this series, but I'm having a hard time believing that this character is the same one we read about in Duchess in Love.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lady Esme Rawlings-known to the ton as Infamous Esme-has a scandalous past but she made a promise to her late husband that she will become respectable for their coming baby's sake. Lady Beatrix Lennox is the object of the ton's gossip due to her wild and scandalous ways. Her own father has termed her a vixen! Countess Helene Godwin is tired of her husband's faithless behaviour and with the encouragement of Beatrix decides to take a lover and publicly cuckold him. Stephen Fairfax-Lacy, a member of Parliament, is tired of the business of looking for a wife. What he needs is a mistress, preferably a married, less experienced lady. He doesn't bargain on being attracted to the outgoing Lady Beatrix. Sebastian Bonnington, a wealthy marquess, is employed anonymously by Esme as a gardener. He is also secretly her lover and wants to marry her though she does not want to get married. Can he change her mind? Will Lord Godwin be goaded into divorcing Helene as she hopes? ***REVIEW:Not your typical romance where there is only one heroine and one hero. This book offers three equally interesting heroines and two likable heroes. Ms. James artfully illustrates with this book that not everyone in Victorian England was prim and proper. I'd definately read this book again and can't wait to read more of her books. Reviewed by: Christy of Christy's Book Reviews
doxiemomx2 on LibraryThing 2 days ago
I am basically enjoying this series, but I have to agreed with others that there are probably too many characters and the whole thing is becoming a little diluted. My problem with this book is that I really couldn't figure out the relationship between Bea and Stephen. Oh, there was lust, alright, but it's not clear why and they sorta don't seem to like each other. Baffling. I hope the last one is better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the other books in this series as well as the author's other series but I felt this book was very boring. It is long and drawn out and at times I found myself skim reading just to get through it. This one was a struggle to finish, very disappointing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another excellant book by E. James.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the complete series.......It is well worth your time and enjoyment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As the third book in a series, this helped close the loop on or advanced some storylines. As a standalone book, it was very mediocre. The main characters werent really the main characters. Each was annoying in his or her own way. Their storyline wasnt all that interesting. Overall, disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book, as with all of the Duchess Quartet books, was throughly entertaing. It was a wonderful "pick me up" and "escape" for me during a difficult time of my life. I would recommend the entire series. All are fantastic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do enjoy Eloisa James and her work. She writes period stories with such ease and accuracy. She makes you feel as tho you are living in that time. I love the way she developes the female characters in her books. I throughouly enjoyed this book. Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the first two books but this one fell flat. Esme was annoying, the only interesting character was Helene and thats the only reason I will read the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ercell More than 1 year ago
I want to make apologize for listening to others I made someone coments before even reading the two book myself I was so suprise that so many people gave them bad reviews I felt eveyone can't be wronge but starte reading a Affair before Xmas and the one almost like the fable a princess & pea you are a good writer and I have read over 800 of these book by differnt authors and I understand where you are going with these books and snice I have read almost all of your books I have found none that I felt were a waste of time. One thing I have learn about a good writer is that if that person is good then if it takes a year to print another book fans will be waitng. once a you are a wonderful writer AND PLEASE DON'T GO ON OTHERS COMMENTS BEFORE YOU READ THE BOOKS.
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Arianya More than 1 year ago
Lovely book on its own or as part of a series.
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