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Monday, March 10, 2014

Blog Tour: Three Weeks With Lady X. by Eloisa James (Review + Giveaway)


I have the pleasure of reviewing Eloisa James's upcoming Three Weeks with Lady X on Buried Under Romance today.

**Avon is hosting a TOUR WIDE Rafflecopter Commenter Giveaway for A Print Copy of A DUKE OF HER OWN, Book Six in the Desperate Duchesses Series
About the book:
The next fabulous romance by New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James. Having made a fortune, Thorn Dautry, the powerful bastard son of a duke, decides that he needs a wife. But to marry a lady, Thorn must acquire a gleaming, civilized façade, the specialty of Lady Xenobia India. Exquisite, headstrong, and independent, India vows to make Thorn marriageable in just three weeks. But neither Thorn nor India anticipate the forbidden passion that explodes between them. Thorn will stop at nothing to make India his. Failure is not an option. But there is only one thing that will make India his . . . the one thing Thorn can't afford to lose . . . his fierce and lawless heart.

Link to Desperate Duchesses Series at Goodreads, https://www.goodreads.com/series/43059-desperate-duchesses

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

Excerpt:
“I am not afraid of you,” India said, keeping her voice even. “But I believe that Laetitia could do much better than marry a man who considers her a noodle and wants to treat her well merely because he paid for her!”
At that, he threw back his head and roared with laughter. “You’re a romantic! Under all that brass and bluster, you’re a romantic!”
India balled up her fist and struck him on the shoulder as hard as she could. He did not flinch at the blow, but he fell backward a step, still laughing. She turned to go, muttering under her breath.
He caught her arm. “What did you say, India?”
She turned her head and glared at him. “Let go of me!”
“Not until you tell me what you said.” That dimple again.
“I said that you were a bastard,” she told him, straight out.

“You’re correct.” The man was damnably attractive when he laughed. His gray eyes turned warm. And warm was dangerous because it made India feel warm too.
***

Three Weeks with Lady X was an unusual experience, and my first encounter with Eloisa James's writing. The plot is at once simplistic yet complex, the characters an intriguing puzzle, to which nothing is as it seems.

Lady Xenobia India St. Claire, daughter of a deceased marquess, is a highly sought-after interior designer (in modern terms) by members of the nobility. Since the age of 15 she has done this with her godmother, and by 26 she's decided it's time to marry -- not for love, nor security, but for a want of children. Unbeknownst to her, another man had the same idea.

Tobias (Thorn) Dautry, the eldest bastard of the Duke of Villiers (hero of A Duke of Her Own), has more money than he knows what to do with it. Due to an incident, he spent his childhood in London slums, which honed a deadliness in him that never went away, even when he was declared to be a duke’s son at the age of 6. Deciding it’s time to marry as well, Thorn is adamant on Laetitia Rainsford, a nice, beautiful young lady who sadly lacks intelligence. Thorn’s goal was to find a wife who would cherish and never abandon his children, which makes sweet Laetitia a perfect candidate. The only problem? Wooing her parents to the match.

In preparation to impress Laetitia’s fastidious mother, Thorn’s stepmother, Eleanor, requested India’s aid in renovating his new country estate, much to the displeasure of both. Yet, Thorn and India soon finds themselves with much in common, including a desire that cannot be doused. But the biggest question remains, when Thorn is bent on marrying Laetitia, how would his feelings for India factor in the three weeks they have at his estate? Moreover, would Thorn suit India’s wishes in a husband?

This novel plays like Mozart’s Turkish March, at times fast-paced and biting, at times passionate and uncertain. Thorn and India start off antagonistically, trading barbs and insults, yet both hiding a physical attraction to each other. Their frequent letters regarding the renovations of Thorn’s estate showcase not only their witty intelligence, but their unique compatibility. As the letters change in humor and passion, so do Thorn and India’s relationship, from that of strangers to friends, and finally to lovers. Despite that, amidst the humor and wit lay the striking loneliness of two individuals heavily influenced by their respective childhoods. India is fiercely independence and unable to trust easily due to her parents’ mad behaviors and her father’s wasteful life; Thorn, for all his self-made wealth, could not escape the stigma attached to his lowly birth, which in his mind makes him unworthy of India, though he aims to have her one way or another.

Dealing with such strong characters, Eloisa James still managed to infuse a believable gentleness to both Thorn and India, a grand feat to be sure. For Thorn, obtaining the daughter of his old friend as a ward made his fatherly attributes clearer to the readers, as well as added a multidimensional to his erstwhile cold and cynical image.

“There's sickness in the world, India. I saw some of it as a boy, more as a man...I don't want it in my house, or anywhere near Rose.”
India loved the way he was protecting Rose, so she smile at him a wide smile. Unguarded. Unusual for her. (Loc 2373/6074)

On the other hand, India is more complex in a far less conventional manner, to the extent that at times it seems as though there are two of her, at war with each other. One side of her is the strict, harshly blunt society dame, the “Lady Xenobia” who is a master at her profession and willing to knock Thorn off his pedestal. However, when she is drunk, she becomes a much friendlier person, confiding in Thorn, wishing for a true friend to listen and satisfy her curiosities. To that end, her vulnerabilities make her as endearing to the readers as to Thorn, a crumbling of her normal façade. At the same time, her seemingly drastic change while sober made me wonder just who is the real her: Lady Xenobia, or India? Ultimately, that answer is slowly revealed as India succumbs to Thorn’s seductions and reflects upon her own wishes for her future.

Writing a story of layered complexity must be Eloisa James’s specialty, for this one could be described as a wedding cake. One tier upon another builds the childhood, youth, and experience for Thorn and Xenobia to whom they are at the start of the novel, and another set builds upon their warring selves of want and need, fantasy and reality, towards a grand ending with much happiness and children. The sheer amount of wit and depth in this story impressed me, and I want nothing more than to read Vander (Thorn’s best friend)’s story as well as that of Rose, his adorably precocious ward.

*Review copy courtesy of the publisher for an honest review

About the Author:
New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa's very first book that she "found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar;" later People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.
After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is a distinguished professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her "double life" is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she's written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women's magazines such as Good Housekeeping and More to writers' journals such as the Romance Writers' Report.

Author Links
Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2014/01/now-booking-tasty-virtual-tour-for_5308.html

**Avon is hosting a TOUR WIDE Rafflecopter Commenter Giveaway for A Print Copy of A DUKE OF HER OWN, Book Six in the Desperate Duchesses Series
a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for hosting today! Love the New Design!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mary, if I didn't already have this on my must-have list, your insightful review would make me want to read it. I love complex characters.

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  3. YAY! I'm not the only one who was late jumping on the Eloisa James bandwagon (I still haven't read anything by her) this one sounds good though and I like the heroines name a lot :)
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

    ReplyDelete
  4. Enjoyed your review. It was insightful and didn't give away too much of the story. I am glad you have finally discovered Eloisa James. Her books do have a special quality to them. They are all a bit different from the norm and have a depth to them.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excellent review! This sounds so good!

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