by Eloisa James

January 2005
ISBN: 0-06-073206-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

Raphael Jourdain, Duke of Holbrook, is a bachelor who has just become the proud guardian of four orphan girls. Having no family of his own since his only brother passed away, he is looking forward to having happy children's voices at the estate again. After having the nursery fitted with four beds, four desks, four rocking horses and four nannies and other bits and bobs that any child would love, the girls finally arrive to their new home. When Raphael comes face to face with his new wards, he is shocked to find that they are not four, charming girls, but four young women who are more beautiful than any one woman has a right to be. What the devil has he gotten himself into?

Teresa Essex can’t believe her eyes. She and her three sisters are now the wards of a powerful Duke, upon whom they have never set eyes on by the way, and now they finally arrive only to find him standing in the middle of a nursery filled with children’s toys. What did he expect, small children? But of course he would, her father must never have told him that they were full grown women, well except for Josephine, who was still in the schoolroom. Now what would become of them?

Raphael soon realizes that this is going to be a problem, after all he is a bachelor, and now he will need a proper chaperone for the girls; I mean young women. Either that, or find someone to marry them off to quick. Hmmm…his best friend Garrett Langham, Earl of Mayne, might do nicely or perhaps Mr. Lucius Felton. Lucius would be a wonderful match for one of the girls; he’s one of the richest men in all of England.

Now that I have laid out a little of the foundation of the story, the rest goes something like this: Garrett goes after Teresa. Teresa plays along, but secretly wants Lucius who is being pursued by Annabel, who is Teresa’s next oldest sister. Lucius really wants Teresa, but doesn’t want to stand in her way of making a match with Garrett. What happens throughout the story is a chase that will entertain and enthrall you as you see who ends up with whom and who gets left behind. Oh, and there’s a wedding to be had at Gretna Green too, but you’ll have to read the story to find out who-done-it!

Ms. James writes regency romance like no other author. Her characters are true to the time period as well as their actions and voices. Her attention to detail in the architecture of the era is impressive as well as her ability to make the readers feel like they are a part of the storyline. All of the secondary characters are a joy, from all of the sibling sisters to the nannies and the servants. Ms. James has many sequels that can come from these characters, and if we’re lucky, she will take them and run away with their stories. Then we will all have fantastic stories to read in the future.

An excellent addition to your historical collection. A real keeper!

Reviewed in December 2004 by Debbie.

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