When the Duke Returns (Desperate Duchesses #4) by Eloisa James

9780061245602The Premise: Isadore, an Italian noblewoman, has been the Duchess of Cosway for years but has never laid eyes on the duke himself, who’s been traveling the world since before their arranged marriage. Tired of waiting for her husband to come to her, Isadore creates a scandal that forces Simeon, the Duke of Cosway, to return to England. Neither English society nor the duchess know what to do with a Buddhist duke who runs around the countryside without a shirt. And Simeon doesn’t know how to restore his long-neglected estate or approach his, long-neglected wife–especially since both the duke and the duchess are virgins. (Cover image from www.avonromance.com.)

Bonus Factors: running, world travels, Buddhism, awkward virgin sex, magical virgin sex, outdoor sex, crumbling estates, terrible communication, mutual antagonism, nightmare mother-in-law, disgusting 18th-century indoor plumbing

My Reaction: I liked the tension between Isadore and Simeon at the beginning of the book, but they were both a little bit Too Stupid To Live when it came to communicating with each other. (Example. Simeon: “I AM ALPHA MALE SO YOU WILL OBEY ME WHEN I TELL YOU TO STAY HERE.” Isadore: “Eff that, you are being a d-bag…oh, crap, I’ve been taken hostage by the convicts THAT YOU NEGLECTED TO MENTION replacing all of the wooden plumbing that literally rotted away from lack of maintenance.”) They finally worked things out, but I was kind of annoyed by how long it took them to figure out something so basic. (Although I am similarly dense, so maybe I’m just projecting my own frustration onto a pair of fictional characters?) Also, they had totally believable (read: awkward) virgin sex on their first attempt, but then suddenly were able to have magical sex on their second try?

Rating: 2.5/4 (1 being a step above a sex-free gentle romance, 4 being an all-sex-and-no-plot romance)

Buy at: Amazon | B&N | Powell’s

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