I finally picked up my precious computer from the Apple store today! I've been so busy there was no time to get it. There wasn't much wrong with it, thank goodness, but it is now working like new. In the meantime I've been enjoying a few favorite movies -- The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies & The Lord of The Rings Trilogy -- and the A&E production of Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth! And of course, I am waiting breathlessly for the second season of Outlander to begin.
I've also been catching up with some reading. I finished Dreamer's Pool by Juliette Marillier (upcoming review) and I picked up The Rake by Mary Jo Putney just to find out if the reread would help get me back on the historical romance horse. I am happy to report that it did!
My reactions to Eloisa James' historical romances are usually mixed -- I either love them or they don't work for me. Once in a while, however, those feelings get all tangled up in one book. I love sections of a book while other sections don't quite work. That's what happened to me with Three Weeks with Lady X.
Let's see. I loved the first half of Three Weeks with Lady X where the relationship between the protagonists and background exploration begin. The Duke of Villiers' eldest bastard son Juby/Tobias, now calling himself Thorn, hires Lady Xenobia India St. Clair to refurbish and redecorate a newly purchased country estate to impress his intended bride's mother. During this first section of the book, it quickly becomes evident that Thorn is a vastly wealthy but crass man whose years as a mudlark had a deeper influence on his character than his later education among aristocrats. He is an extremely successful as well as an acutely intelligent businessman and inventor, but his ideal wife material is a young woman known throughout society as a 'simpleton,' a woman he chose for her sweet character and love of children.
India, our female protagonist, is far from 'sweet.' She is the orphaned daughter of a Marquees, left without a dowry when her parents died. India, however, didn't sit around waiting for a husband to save her from destitution, instead she earned her own dowry by reorganizing and redecorating households for the aristocracy. Additionally, although she has had multiple marriage proposals, India will not choose a husband or marry until she is ready.
Upon meeting, Thorn and India develop a type of prickly relationship that leads to heated and amusing exchanges, quickly evolving into the sort of friendship that includes physical contact. It concludes with India lying about her virginity and giving herself, without second thought, to Thorn in a heated, off-the-charts passionate sex scene.
(WARNING: some spoilers ahead)
Then. . . everything falls apart for a while. Let's keep in mind that when all of the above takes place Thorn is not yet engaged to his chosen intended. However, even after having had sex with India, he still plans to go through with the engagement to Lala. Thorn further complicates matters by inviting his best friend Vander, the future Duke of Pindar, as a possible match for India! India willingly goes along with all of this and even considers Vander as a future husband while falling in love and still banging Thorn. (End SPOILERS)
Of course after all of those WTF moments, a highly dramatic farce ensues. And it just so happens that I love a good farce by Eloisa James, so you can see where I'm going, right? Because of course this is a romance and after all is said and done, Thorn is not about to let India get away. Villiers is involved, (I adore Villiers) and there is begging as well as some fantastic over the top fun along with emotional scenes all the way to the end. Plus in the middle of everything, James inserts a ward for Thorn -- the orphaned, overly eloquent and sincerely out of whack six year-old Rose whose grammar and vocabulary are more advanced than India's or Thorn's. Rose & Thorn. It's not easy people.
So yes, Three Weeks with Lady X was a roller coaster read and in the end I gave it a C+ because despite those "what the heck are they doing?" moments, I really enjoyed the first and last sections of the book. This book is a sort of continuation by way of a spin off of the Desperate Duchesses series. I think of it as the "manly man" series since so far the males are big, rough around the edges men oozing testosterone.
This post turned out to be longer than expected, so I will post my impressions of Four Nights with the Duke separately. The romance between Vander, The Duke of Pindar, and Mia, daughter of his mother's lifetime lover. Yeah. . .
ETA: I'm out of my mind. It's Three Weeks with Lady X, not Three Days! Edited…