Thursday, April 3, 2014

(Review) Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James

Title: Three Weeks with Lady X
Author: Eloisa James
Series: Desperate Duchesses, #7
Published: March 25, 2014 (Avon)
Rating: Stay Up 'til 2 AM
Format: Digital review copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!)
Summary: Having made a fortune, Thorn Dautry, the powerful bastard son of a duke, decides that he needs a wife. But to marry a lady, Thorn must acquire a gleaming, civilized dwelling, the specialty of Lady Xenobia India St. Clair.

Exquisite, head-strong, and independent, India vows to make Thorn marriageable in just three weeks. But neither Thorn nor India anticipate the forbidden passion that explodes between them. Thorn will stop at nothing to make India his. Failure is not an option. But there is only one thing that will make India his—the one thing Thorn can't afford to lose: His fierce and lawless heart.
When I first read that Eloisa James was going to write another Desperate Duchesses book, there may have been a happy dance. Of the super spazzy variety. While I do adore her fairy tale books, there is just something about her Desperate Duchesses series that is simply magical without any fairy dust needed.

I'll be honest: I went into this one knowing absolutely nothing about it. I do that sometimes with authors I trust, just for the fun of it. I like to be surprised by what they have in store. (Although now that I think about it, I just realized that the last time I was SUPER burned by a misleading totally-didn't-match-the-book blurb, it was an Eloisa James book. It happened with the most recent one, and it also happened with Thorn's father's book. Huh. Maybe my subconscious is onto something.) But I digress. Blurb or no, I enjoyed every moment between the covers of this book.

Lady Xenobia (better known by her middle name, India) was a fantastic heroine. She was colorful, unique, bold, yet traditional in many ways and demanding of respect. I enjoyed every moment with her. She was a career woman of sorts, in high demand by the members of the ton as, basically, an overhauler of households. India redesigned rooms, decorated, eliminated incompetent staff, and hired new servants when needed. She had made quite the reputation for herself, but India also wanted to marry. She decided to take one more job before retiring: the household of Tobias "Thorn" Dautry.

Thorn was quite the hero. He was as untraditional as could be, a richer-than-Croesus illegitimate son of a duke (the Duke of Villiers, nonetheless!) who had spent the first 12 years of his life as an orphan and a mudlark. Those years had shaped him in many ways, even though he was living as a gentleman now. He needed more than simply his money to appease the mother of the woman he wanted to marry; he needed a respectful residence. So he bought one, albeit one with a rather debauched former owner who displayed erotic art in the front hall. Enter India, hired by Thorn's stepmother to overhaul his new abode. Thus, despite their initial dislike, India and Thorn were forced to work together

Because of this set-up, much of the beginning stage of their acquaintance/friendship was formed through letters. I always, always love when novels have epistolary portions. There's just something about reading the written, personal communication between two people that is so fun and intimate and telling. It is a marvelous way to get to know the characters; I love it when the personalities shine through the writing. I am always amazed at what can be conveyed through simple word choice and placement. While there were only a few missives in Lady X, every bit was splendid. I laughed aloud more than once. It also served as a delightful way to deepen Thorn and India's friendship while they were apart.

Throw in a few "friendly" kisses, an adorable little girl, some witty banter, and a mildly pornographic statue or two, and you will understand why I fell so thoroughly under the spell of Three Weeks with Lady X. I couldn't put it down! It was entertaining, charming, and completely addicting. Color my expectations met: James has written another winner!
“Lady Xenobia, I adore you!”

“I would suggest that you place yourself in the hands of Monsieur Devoulier.”
“Why that tailor in particular?” Thorn drawled, thinking with some satisfaction of the various coats Devoulier had made for him over the years. He might not choose to dress like a peacock on a daily basis, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t the clothing to do so.
“He excels in making shortfalls less obvious,” she said coolly. And damned if she didn’t glance at his crotch.

Her eyes glittered. “Are you attempting to intimidate me?”
“Absolutely not. I’m merely attempting to clarify your thoughts on the subject. Because since I haven’t managed to sack you – not that I ever officially hired you – I might as well know my new employee’s opinion of me.” [...]
“First, Eleanor hired me, no you. And second, you are the bastard son of a duke.”
“Do you realize that you are the first lady who has ever said the word ‘bastard’ aloud to me?”
She looked him straight in the eye. “The word has more than one meaning”

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