People magazine named Eloisa James' novel Midnight Pleasures "Page Turner of the Week" and raved "Romance writing does not get much better than this." Now the acclaimed author returns with another sumptuous tale of passion and misadventure in Regency England....Gabrielle Jerningham cherishes the portrait of her betrothed, the perfect Peter Dewland...until she meets his commanding older brother Quill. But it is Peter to whom she has been promised. And how can she possibly transform her voluptuous, outspoken self into the poised gentlewoman Peter requires? When Gabby's shocking décolletage plunges to her waist at her first ball, Peter is humiliated. But Quill comes to the rescue, to the peril of his heart. An accident years before has left Quill plagued by headaches--the kind that grows more excruciating with strenuous exercise. Needless to say, this hardly bodes well for siring progeny. But the very sight of Gabby leaves Quill breathless. One forbidden kiss and Quill vows to have her, headaches--and Peter--be damned! But it will take a clever man--and a cleverer woman--to turn the tables on propriety and find their way to true love....From the Paperback edition.
In keeping with the previous installments of James's regency trilogy (Potent Pleasures; Midnight Pleasures), this final volume offers dual romances, charismatic characters, and a healthy dose of humor. Gabrielle Jerningham, aptly nicknamed "Gabby," has left India and her missionary father to marry dapper Peter Dewland, the Viscount Dewland's second son. A true romantic and a consummate storyteller, Gabby fancies herself in love with Peter even though they've never met, and she's dismayed that Peter's imposing older brother, Quill, is the one to greet her upon her arrival in England. Although Quill is pleasantly amused by Gabby's guileless beauty and unpolished manners, Peter is appalled by his "overfleshy" fiance and her passe wardrobe. Peter's low estimation of Gabby heightens when he escorts her to a soiree and the bodice of her new French gown falls to her waist. To spare Gabby the humiliation of Peter's rejection, Quill pretends to be smitten with her and proposes that she marry him instead. The pair seem well suited until Quill reveals the reason why he is reticent to consummate their marriage: due to a horse-riding injury, whenever Quill performs "rhythmical exercise," he suffers a three-day migraine afterward. Though far-fetched, this turn of events proves to be a lively, entertaining test of their marriage as Gabby visits apothecaries by day and experiments with other remedies at night. A side story involving the East India Company's search for a missing Indian prince provides the narrative with depth and a little political intrigue, and an additional romance between a former marquis and a gossip columnist is a pleasing touch. Once again, James weaves a story as rich in plot as in character.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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April 28, 2002
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Excerpt from Enchanting Pleasures by Eloisa James
St. James’s Square, London 1806 Fate had just dealt Viscount Dewland a blow that would have felled a weaker, or more sympathetic, man. He gaped silently at his eldest son for a moment, ignoring his wife’s twittering commentary. But a happy thought revived him. That same wife had, after all, provided him with two male offspring. Without further ado he spun on his heel and barked at his younger son, “If your brother can’t do his duty in bed, then you’ll do it. You can act like a man for once in your life.” Peter Dewland was caught unawares by his father’s sudden attack. He had risen to adjust his neckcloth in the drawing-room mirror, thereby avoiding his brother’s eyes. Really, what does a man say to that sort of confession? But like his father, Peter recovered quickly from unpredictable assaults. He walked around the end of the divan and sat down. “I gather you are suggesting that I marry Jerningham’s daughter?” “Of course I am!” the viscount snapped. “Someone has to marry her, and your brother has just declared himself ineligible.” “I beg to differ,” Peter remarked with a look of cool distaste. “I have no plans to marry at your whim.” “What in the bloody hell do you mean? Of course you’ll marry the girl if I instruct you to do so!” “I do not plan to marry, Father. Not at your instigation nor at anyone else’s.” “Rubbish! Every man marries.” Peter sighed. “Not true.” “You’ve squired about every beautiful gal that came on the market in the last six years. If you had formed a true attachment, I would not stand in your way. But since you haven’t made a move to attach yourself, you will marry Jerningham’s girl. “You shall do as I say, boy,” the viscount bellowed. “Your brother can’t take on the job, and so you have to do it. I’ve been lenient with you. You might be in the Seventh Foot at this very moment. Have you thought of that?” “I’d rather take a pair of colors than a wife,” Peter retorted. “Absolutely not,” his father said, reversing himself. “Your brother’s been at the point of death for years.” Inside the drawing room, the silence swelled ominously. Peter grimaced at his elder brother, whose muscled body proclaimed his general fitness to the world at large. Erskine Dewland, who had been staring meditatively at the polished surface of his Hessians, raised his heavy-lidded eyes from his boots to his father’s face. “If Peter is determined not to marry, I could take her on.” His deep voice fell into the silent room. “And what’s the point of that? You can’t do the job properly, and I’m not wedding Jerningham’s daughter to . . . to . . . in that case. I’ve got principles. The girl’s got a right to expect a sound husband, for God’s sake.” Quill, as Erskine was known to his intimates, opened his mouth again. And then thought better of it. He could certainly consummate the marriage, but it wouldn’t be a very pleasant experience. Any woman deserved more from marriage than he could offer. While he had come to terms with his injuries, especially now that they had ceased to bother his movement, the three-day migraines that followed repetitive motion made his likelihood for marital bliss very slight. “Can’t argue with that, can you?” The viscount looked triumphantly at his