From Publishers Weekly
If Shakespeare had written an 18th-century romantic comedy, it might look something like this novel. In her latest, veteran James offers a larger-than-life portrait of Georgian England, complete with oversexed aristocrats, posturing courtesans and a feuding duke and duchess. At the heart of it all is Roberta St. Giles, an ingenue who's intent on marrying the duke of Villiers, a chess player and notorious womanizer. Roberta, the daughter of the poetry-addicted Mad Marquess, wants nothing more than an unsentimental husband like Villiers. But in her quest to become the sort of woman who would attract the duke, she finds herself falling for Damon Reeve, her tutor in the art of pleasure. James embellishes her tale with a number of characters, each with their own desires, vices and schemes. At times, the profusion of people and plot threads overwhelms the primary romance. Roberta, in particular, pales next to the vivacious but unhappily married duchess of Beaumont, who begs for her own story. Despite this lack of focus, James pulls everything together in the final third, making for a colorful, spirited romance that will leave readers desperate for a sequel.
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Roberta St. Giles knows that the Duke of Villiers is the only man for her, but convincing the sinfully sexy nobleman that they belong together won't be easy. Fortunately, Roberta's much-removed cousin Jemma, the Duchess of Beaumont, has just the plan to bring them together. Since Villiers is simply mad for chess, Jemma proposes a series of matches between herself, one of the best players in England, and Villiers, thus creating the perfect opportunity for Villiers to get to know Roberta better. Once Jemma's visiting brother, Damon Reeves, the Earl of Gryffyn, discovers Roberta's intentions of wedding Villiers, he offers his help, never expecting that he would also fall in love with her. Now Damon must find some way to checkmate Roberta's plans to marry Villiers and convince her to choose him instead. The first in a sparkling new series set in the scandalously fun Georgian era by best-selling and award-winning James, this is a gracefully written, lusciously sensual, delectably witty, and exquisitely romantic historical romance. Charles, John Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved