skygiants: Beatrice from Much Ado putting up her hand to stop Benedick talking (no more than reason)
[personal profile] skygiants
Basically the kinds of things I want to read when I'm on vacation falls into the category of 'stuff I can imagine owning in battered paperback' -- romance, mystery, historical fiction, Gothic.

Last time I was on vacation, in the absence of new Courtney Milan or Rose Lerner, I turned to Eloisa James' Desperate Duchess books, which are inoffensive and certainly served their vacation purpose, though most of them left me wanting more substance than they were ever going to have.

The hook of the Desperate Duchesses books is ongoing story of the chess-obsessed estranged married couple who spend most of the entire series falling back in love with each other, plus their equally chess-obsessed bff/rival/third member of an emotional threesome. Approximately a third of each book is usually dedicated to their adventures and it is usually the most interesting third of the book.

Desperate Duchesses: Pragmatic young heroine decides to pursue the dignified and sinister chess-obsessed rake in order to escape from sweet but wildly embarrassing and undignified family home, but decides there is no harm in practicing no-strings-attached makeouts with less dignified, funnier rake while she's at it. (Meanwhile, in the series A-plot, the chess-obsessed people have a series of Significant and Sexy Chess Matches, the chess-obsessed rake briefly gets engaged to the heroine, and then fairly rapidly gets un-engaged to her again.)

An Affair Before Christmas: Heroine and her husband spend half the book accepting the fact that she's not interested in sex and would like to pursue other interests and bonding activities, but of course in the second half it turns out that she was never sex-repulsed at all and just has a bad allergy to hair powder that has been interfering with all sexy Regency activities. (In the series A-plot, Chess-Obsessed Rake attempts to get engaged to a no-nonsense lady while recovering from a duel, and fails.)

Duchess By Night: Our Heroine, a respectable widow, decides to throw caution to the winds and spend a couple weeks cross-dressing at a wild party full of Actresses and Gambling and Mad Science, where she bonds with Head Mad Scientist and his precocious daughter. Should have been my favorite, but then the Woman Discovers Freedom Through Cross-Dressing plot gets its wires tangled up with the Sensible Adult Teaches Manchild That Mad Science Is Irresponsible Around Children plot and kind of ends up tripping over itself. So, like, Our Heroine gets really into fencing and power games and gambling and Dude Stuff, almost figures out how to bond with the Actresses and Loose Women instead of judging them, almost comes to the verge of calling out the hero and everyone else on how everything they do plays into the gendered status quo, and then decides that what she really wants is to go home and live exactly like she always did except with the addition of one now-domesticated mad scientist and now-significantly-less-endangered-by-lack-of-OSHA-standards daughter. (In the series A-plot, Chess-Obsessed Rake briefly considers making a play for the heroine and decides that given his track record it's really not even worth it.)

When the Duke Returns: Hero comes back to his married-by-proxy wife after several years of nonsensical Orientalist adventures, having converted to a nonexistent Mysterious Eastern religion and sworn to stay virginal as a result. Hero and heroine proceed to sort out their marriage while dealing with the terrible plumbing problems in hero's ancestral home, which would be a lot cuter if not for, you know, all the nonsense Orientalism. (I don't actually remember what happens in the A-plot, I think the chess-obsessed couple just do a lot of married-people flirting.)

This Duchess of Mine: The reunion romance between the chess-obsessed couple, except they've already gotten to the point of respect and reconciliation over the course of five previous books, so this one has to resort to some drama involving 'but Mr. Chess might DIE of a mysterious heart ailment ANY MINUTE NOW!!!' in order to actually fill itself out. Spoiler: Mr. Chess does not die of a mysterious heart ailment. (In a surprise B-plot, the chess-obsessed rake is abruptly distracted from his impending emotional threesome with the chess-obsessed couple by suddenly remembering he has six illegitimate children and deciding to track them down, adopt them, and marry someone to be their new mom.)

A Duke of Her Own: The chess-obsessed rake attempts to hunt down a solid co-parent for his six illegitimate children, and discovers two candidates amid Shakespearean farce; heroine, meanwhile, gets over six years of pent-up embarrassment about having a sex drive. Astoundingly little chess ensues.

There are a couple of next-generation books too, I think, but that is probably more than enough implausibly sexy dukes and duchesses for now!

Date: 2016-08-10 04:09 am (UTC)
ceitfianna: (running towards a happy ending)
From: [personal profile] ceitfianna
If you haven't read her, I think you'd like Erin Knightley's books, great characters, wonderful dialogue and banter, low on sexytimes. My latest round of romances have left me going meh, want better, so I reread my Loretta Chases'. These do sound fun and I like Eloisa James, she's not one of my favorites but she's solid and makes me care. If I don't care, I get bored. This is why I love Mary Balogh and Loretta Chase and reread them, they make me want things to work out and worry that they really won't.

Date: 2016-08-10 07:29 am (UTC)
landofnowhere: (Default)
From: [personal profile] landofnowhere
but of course in the second half it turns out that she was never sex-repulsed at all and just has a bad allergy to hair powder that has been interfering with all sexy Regency activities.

This made me laugh out loud. Also wow the six illegitimate children.

Date: 2016-08-10 08:42 am (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Should have been my favorite, but then the Woman Discovers Freedom Through Cross-Dressing plot gets its wires tangled up with the Sensible Adult Teaches Manchild That Mad Science Is Irresponsible Around Children plot and kind of ends up tripping over itself.

On behalf of mad science, I protest this subplot.

The chess-obsessed rake attempts to hunt down a solid co-parent for his six illegitimate children, and discovers two candidates amid Shakespearean farce

On behalf of my id, apparently I really want to read that.

Date: 2016-08-10 09:00 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
I was gradually working my way through the Eloisa James books from the library until I got ill last year, but I hadn't made it to this set yet. *considers restarting that project*

Date: 2016-08-10 10:54 pm (UTC)
bookblather: A picture of Yomiko Readman looking at books with the text "bookgasm." (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookblather
I actually kind of enjoy A Duke of Her Own. Something about the six illegitimate children and the heroine being awesome and the duke spending the entire book being vaguely embarrassed. I should read it again.

Is Desperate Duchesses worth it if I'm just looking for amusing romance silliness? I reaaaaaaally dislike love triangles but the fairly rapid un-engagement doesn't sound too bad.

Date: 2016-08-12 01:27 am (UTC)
bookblather: A picture of Yomiko Readman looking at books with the text "bookgasm." (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookblather
Oh, that explains a LOT. The first time I read it I failed to understand it was the sixth book in a series, so I got it entirely AS a standalone, and I still haven't read any of the other books. So I basically read it under ideal conditions.

I'll look it up then! Sounds like a good fluff book.

Date: 2016-09-03 01:14 am (UTC)
izilen: Paz, from GC (Default)
From: [personal profile] izilen
Oh my god Becca, you read this and you DID NOT TELL ME.

I read these back in...2012? And my feelings as I remember them are that I absolutely loved the Chess-Obsessed Couple and had increasingly good feelings about the Chess-Obsessed Rake, as you have named them, and then all of a sudden I felt very intensely that this was, in fact, an OT3. I feel like in addition to being all obsessed with chess they are also very very into each other. I never read the last book because mostly I wanted them all together forever.

(ALSO I hated An Affair Beyond Christmas with an angry, upset passion. Such classic 'it is not human or natural to not want or like sex' bullshit, complete with nonsense resolution.)

Back to nicer things, I once made this image thing for this series: http://bookofstars.tumblr.com/post/33340308523/779

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