The Taming of the Duke (Essex Sisters Series #3)

The Taming of the Duke (Essex Sisters Series #3)

by Eloisa James

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The Taming of the Duke (Essex Sisters Series #3) by Eloisa James

Imogen, Lady Maitland, has decided to dance on the wild side. After all, she's in the delicious position of being able to take a lover. A discreet male who knows just when to leave in the morning.

But Lady Maitland is still under the watchful eye of her former guardian, the wildly untamed Rafe, the Duke of Holbrook. He believes she is still in need of a "watchdog." She laughs at the idea that someone so insufferably lazy and devoted to drink can demand that she behave with propriety.

It's Rafe's long-lost brother, a man who looks precisely like the duke but with none of his degenerate edge, who interests Imogen. To Imogen, he's the shadow duke . . . the man who really should hold the title. But when Imogen agrees to accompany Gabe to a masquerade...whose masked eyes watch her with that intense look of desire? Who exactly is she dancing with? The duke or the shadow duke? Rafe . . . or Gabe?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060781583
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/28/2006
Series: Essex Sisters Series , #3
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 136,057
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(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

Read an Excerpt

The Taming of the Duke

By Eloisa James

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Eloisa James
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060781580

Chapter One

In Which the Curiosities of Courtship
are Reviewed

August 1817
Ardmore Castle, Scotland

"I wish I were a queen," Miss Josephine Essex said to two of her elder sisters. "I would simply command an appropriate man to marry me by special license."

"What if he refused?" Imogen, sometimes known as Lady Maitland, asked.

"I'd remove his head from his body," Josie said with dignity.

"Given that men make slim use of their heads," Annabel, the Countess of Ardmore said, "you don't have to threaten decapitation; simply allow the fellow to believe that he made up his own mind about marriage." She was tucked in Imogen's bed and appeared little more than a tousle of curls peeking from under the bedcovers.

"That is precisely the kind of advice I need." Josie snapped open a small book and poised her quill. "I am making a study of the skills required to succeed in the marriage market and since you two are both married, you are my primary sources of information."

"I'm a widow," Imogen said. "I know nothing of the marriage market." She was sorting silk stockings and didn't even look up from the dressing table.

"One should be able to dance," Annabel noted. "You really must practice harder, Josie. You were stomping on Mayne'stoes the other night."

"I need better advice than that," Josie said to her. "You are the only one of us to have actually gone on the season, and you married into a title. You do remember that I'm to have a season next year, don't you?"

Annabel opened one eye. "Only because you mention it every other minute. Lord, but I'm sleepy!"

"I've heard that marriage rots the brain," her youngest sister told her cheerfully.

"In that case, I wonder that you're so interested in it."

Josie ignored that unhelpful comment. "There's more to gaining a husband than not tripping over his feet while waltzing. I want to understand the challenges beforehand. I can't rely on beauty, the way the two of you did."

"That's ridiculous. You are lovely," Annabel said.

"I was in London for the better part of April," Imogen said, "and I saw plenty of young ladies in your situation, Josie. It seemed to me that the primary requirement for a debutante is a smirk. An innocent simper," she clarified. "Smirk," Josie noted in her book.

"And listen to everything your suitor says as if God Himself is speaking. Of course, sometimes it's difficult to stay awake."

"Men can be very boring," Annabel agreed. "They have such a penchant for discussing themselves. You have to learn to endure, which is not one of your best qualities, Josie."

"To this point, you have shown no ability to suffer fools gladly," Imogen said. "Yet fools have the deepest pockets. It's a proven fact that lack of brains and a large estate go hand in hand."

Josie had been writing busily in her book but she looked up at this. "So I smirk at the fool as he talks about himself? Essentially, toe-curling boredom buys a spouse?"

"I think Imogen is overstating the importance of a smirk," Annabel put in. "There are moments in courtship that can be rather interesting. In my view, for example, a prospective groom might prefer engaging in a mildly scandalous activity to a mutual smirk."

"Annabel has a point. I suppose you might occasionally engage in an impudent act," Imogen said, "but only if you found yourself in the company of a truly engaging young man."

"That's a bit steep coming from you," Josie said. "You devoted yourself to outrageous efforts from the very moment you saw Draven Maitland. Remember how he kissed you, after you arranged to fall out of a tree at his feet?"

Imogen's hands stilled for a moment. "Of course I do. It was spring and the apple tree was in bloom."

"And then you fell off a horse, and finally you fell into marriage. Your example seems to go against the model of the innocent simper," Josie said. "I intend to be practical about this business, and I have no particular disinclination to creating a scandal, if that is the most efficacious route to marriage."

"My foolishness is nothing to emulate," Imogen said, returning to her task and folding two pale blue stockings together. "You would do better to find a husband by a more conventional means."

Josie made a note in her book. "Employ an innocent look, no matter how imprudent one's private conduct may be. It sounds like that gentleman thief who is always getting described in the Times. One moment he appears as a fine gentleman and then with a twist of a dish clout, he's transformed into a beggar."

"In fact, the reverse of Imogen's style," Annabel pointed out, a hint of mischief in her tone. "Since Imogen specializes in appearing debauched, no matter how innocent her private activities may be. According to Griselda, all of London now believes you are carrying on an illicit amour with Mayne, whereas in truth the man has achieved slightly more intimacy than a footman."

"Every woman should have an occupation," Imogen said. "Mine is to provide interest to the old biddies." She tossed a few stockings over her shoulder. They gently drifted to the bed and fell on Annabel's legs.

"Well, as to that," Josie said thoughtfully, "you seem to be slightly behind the times, Annabel."

"She's more than behind the times. She's utterly out of style," Imogen said. "Last night she was flirting with her husband at supper. That kind of behavior is beyond unfashionable; it's practically indecent. No one is supposed to pay attention to her spouse in public. Or," she added, "in private either." Annabel grinned and said nothing.

"I saw Ardmore kissing you in the breakfast parlor yesterday," Josie remarked. "Your husband has lost his head, which suggests that you should be able to help me. You must have better suggestions than improving my dancing."


Excerpted from The Taming of the Duke by Eloisa James Copyright © 2006 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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Taming of the Duke 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 60 reviews.
Coffee-BookGal More than 1 year ago
The Taming of the Duke was my favorite of the Essex sisters books! I loved Rafe's character as well as Imogen. This book is full of fun, sassy characters, lessons learned, and of course...great romantic scenes that Eloisa James is so great at writing! I loved seeing Rafe get his life together and how he pursued Imogen in disguise! It keep me reading til the wee hours of the morning. You won't want to put this book down!
Sagey More than 1 year ago
Loved it. Funny, engaging....good read for those who like simple fun books
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1817 Suffolk, England, widow Imogen Essex lives at the home of Duke Rafe Jourdain, guardian to her and her remaining unmarried sister Josie her other siblings Annabel (see KISS ME ANNABEL) and Tess (see MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU) recently wed. Imogen believes her contrary host is a drunk as he imbibes at any time. However, she feels a debt to Rafe who took them in when their parents died she tries to help him overcome his alcohol dependency even as he obstinately rejects her aid because Rafe feels a forbidden attraction that is disloyal to the trust Lord and Lady Maitland bestowed on him.----- After meeting Rafe's illegitimate half-brother Gabe Spenser, Imogen decides he is perfect for a tryst. In order to thwart her attempts at illicit behavior and the subsequent scandal, Rafe pretends to be Gabe rendezvousing with Imogen but instead he finds himself in freefall needing to make love with his ward. To do that he will need to change the relationship of his protection from that of to a ward to a wife if he can persuade Imogen of his love for her.----- THE TAMING OF THE DUKE is a great Regency romance that stars two delightful lead protagonists whose flaws seem real and make them vulnerable (and perfect for us readers). The charming story line is as always in an Eloisa James¿ tale a battle between the sexes in which there can be only two outcomes possible, either both win or both lose, with the betting line at Whites being the latter. Book three of the Essex sisters¿ tales is a wonderful novel that sub-genre fans will appreciate, but also romance readers in general will enjoy THE TAMING OF THE DUKE as the ¿Professor¿ has another winner that is a sure shot bestseller.----- Harriet Klausner
essexgirl on LibraryThing 2 hours ago
The first 2 books in this series had some resonance. I even went and reread Catallus. This has some good jokes but both the leads are a tad icky. And I hate this cover. The hero is supposed to be an overweight alcoholic. With a six-pack!
Anniik on LibraryThing 2 hours ago
"The Taming of the Duke" is the third installation in the Essex sisters series. It concerns Imogen, the third sister, who so far in the series has eloped, been widowed, and caused a great deal of trouble. This story begins when Rafe's illegitimate brother, Gabriel, shows up to ask Rafe for a favor. Apparently a brief love affair between Gabriel and an actress resulted in a child being born, and the ruination of the actress's career. Gabe wants Rafe to hold a play for him where she can have the lead as a way of setting things straight between them. Imogen conceives a fancy for Gabe, and propositions him. Backed into a corner, Gabe agrees to go, but then goes to Rafe behind her back and tells him that he'd better cover for him, because he's not going to do it - he doesn't feel that way about Imogen and he doesn't want to have an affair with her. So Rafe, who has hid feelings for Imogen for some time, engages in an elaborate masquerade with Imogen who believes that he's Gabe.This is a sweet book. Rafe's struggles with his alcoholism, Imogen's insecurities about her desirability (due to her first marriage), and Rafe's complete lack of confidence in himself combine to make an adorable love story. On the downside, The masquerade is a little bit unbelievable (they aren't twins, after all, just brothers). But the biggest issue for me in this book is the secondary love story which is, for the most part, in the way. I really don't care about Gabe or Gillian Pythian-Adams. I really don't care what happens to them. I want to know what happens with Rafe and Imogen, and whenever I'd reach one of the chapters with the long and drawn-out secondary love story, I read it as fast as possible to get back to Rafe and Imogen. The second read through, I skipped them completely. It seems in a lot of her books that Eloisa James finds it necessary to make sure that everyone has a happy ending - not just the main characters. This can become tedious - and does very much so in this book.
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Wonderful hero
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The ending made NO SENSE. I had to keep checking i hadnt accidtaly skipped ahead.
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Liked the main characters, good storyline. I enjoyed this book.
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cgibo More than 1 year ago
I couldn't wait to find out what happens with each of the sisters.
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