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Much Ado About You (Essex Sisters, book 1) Mass Market Paperback – December 28, 2004

83 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Essex Sisters Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reviewers have compared James's Regency-era romances (Your Wicked Ways, etc.) to Sex and the City, but her effervescent voice is somewhat subdued in this first installment of her new series, focusing on four squabbling sisters. After their father passes away, Tess, Imogen, Annabel and Josie Essex find themselves impoverished, uprooted and taken under the wing of a benevolent duke. As the eldest and most sensible, Tess decides she must marry so that she can help support her sisters. But who should she wed? Garret Langham, an earl who seems to admire, though not lust after, her? Or the untitled but über-wealthy Lucius Felton, who hides his emotions behind a mask of cool civility, save for when he kisses her? Tess is mildly conflicted but generally content to go along with whatever fate throws her way, which makes her a less than inspiring heroine. What she lacks in character is more than made up for by Lucius, however, who possesses a quiet intensity and magnetic presence. The chemistry between the two easily overshadows the rather tenuous camaraderie that Tess and her sisters share. Sex and the City gals they are not; they bicker constantly and rarely connect on a sisterly or even friendly level. But though the book isn't as spry as James's earlier novels, it contains a romance that will induce sighs of satisfaction.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Tess Essex wished her father had loved his Thoroughbreds a bit less and his daughters a bit more. Now, after his death, Tess, Imogen, Annabel, and Josephine find themselves with a new guardian: Rafe Jourdain, the Duke of Holbrook. Although Holbrook is exceedingly kind, he is completely clueless when it comes to finding suitable matches for his new wards. Deciding that it is up to her, Tess encourages the romantic overtures of one of Holbrook's closest friends, Garret Langham, the Earl of Mayne. Titled, handsome, and sophisticated, Garret is an entirely appropriate suitor for Tess, and his society connections will help Tess secure good husbands for her sisters. The only problem is that even though Tess is resigned to a politely civilized marriage to Garret, she just can't seem to forget the less acceptable Lucius Felton and his deliciously improper kisses. In the first in a new series featuring the wonderfully amusing Essex sisters, New York Times best-selling James' gift for superb characterization and elegantly sensual, delightfully witty prose create a thoroughly romantic treat. John Charles
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (December 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060732067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060732066
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A reviewer from USA Today wrote that she "found herself devouring [Eloisa's] book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Eloisa wrote her first novel after graduating from Harvard, but alas, it was rejected by every possible publisher. After she got a couple more degrees and a job as a Shakespeare professor, she tried again, with much greater success. Over twenty best-sellers later, she teaches Shakespeare in the English Department at Fordham University in New York City. She's also the mother of two children and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight.

For info about books, visit Or ask a question on Facebook (where Eloisa spends entirely too much time): And then drop in on her very romantic, very Eloisa Tumblr blog, a labor of love:

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By SilkStockings on February 14, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a huge Eloisa James fan, but was not thrilled with this book and had to force myself to finish it. It is very clear even without ever knowing more books would follow that was her intention, a setup. Too much time was spent explaining each sister over and over again so we could truly get a sense of them. I felt that Tess really deserved a true story of her own, not one thrown into the mix of all the many explanations. I thought Imogen would NEVER finally run away with her love as we were told she would by reading the back cover. The story was very slow paced and instead of sitting down and finishing it the way I have done with all of her books prier it took me three days. Then suddenly when there are less than 50 pages left it grew interesting. It was truly a letdown but I hope the ones to follow will be better without all the explaining. We can only hope.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on December 30, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Essex sisters are in a pickle: their improvident father is dead, and now the sisters (four in all) are penniless and homeless. But their prospects are not so dire for their father has given them a guardian in the shape of the Duke of Holbrook (a youngish and rich gentleman, even if he does seem to be perpetually tipsy); and he has dowered them each with a much prized horse. The Duke in determined to do his duty by his wards and to see them settled happily in life; while Tess, now that she realises that she can count on the Duke to do right by her sisters and her, is determined to marry as soon as possible. Fortunately, the Duke his two of his closest friends visiting: the urbane and sophisticated Earl of Mayne and the fabulously rich and rakish Lucius Felton. The earl seems all set to woo her, but it is Lucius Felton who makes her pulses race, and whose kisses thrill. Should Tess make the prudent decision of allowing the earl to propose? Or should she wait for Lucius to make his move?

With this first installment of a new series featuring the Essex sisters, Eliosa James is off to a promising start. For while the series follows an old formula (virtually penniless sisters must marry for security), Ms James' execution of this old plot gambit is anything but, especially since she's introduced a rather interesting twist involving Imogen Essex, her obsession with an unsuitable suitor and how this affects her relationship with her sisters. All this will probably only be properly "fleshed" out in subsequent installments; "Much Ado About You," focuses mostly on setting up the series premise and the characters involved in this series.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By BookWorm on July 19, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really loved this book. This is odd, because I hated the "Duchess" series, which includes "Duchess in Love", "Fool for Love", "A Wild Pursuit", and "Your Wicked Ways". This book turned out to be way better than the Duchess series.

Tess Essex and her three sisters (the following books in the series are about her sisters) are left alone in the world after their father passes away. He loved his horses more than anything in the world and each girl has been given a dowry of a horse. The Duke of Holbrook agreed to be their ward before their father passed away. He was expecting 4 young children and did not realize that he would get 4 grown ladies, all of which are beautiful. He immediately asks one of his friends to marry Tess, and the rest of the novel is about Tess and who she marries (she has more than one guy interested in her), and what happens when she falls in love.

I liked that the wedding happened before the love (I love marriage of convenience plots). All the characters are well written. I really liked Rafe (the guardian) and if he is not intended for one of the sisters, then Eloisa better write a separate book for him.

There is an interesting side-story with her sister Imogene (which will really have an impact on Imogene's book) and I loved Annabel's character. Josie, as the youngest, slightly chubby. youngest sister was also interesting.

There are, of course, the trademark "sensual" scenes that James uses in all of her books. Watch out for the scene that take place when Tess and her husband are at the race tracks.

All in all, this was a well written book, very engrossing and a great set-up for a quartet. I can't wait until the rest of the series is released.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By statengirl on January 22, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is obviously the first book of a series, for much time is spent introducing not only the heroine Tess Essex, but also her three younger sisters, aged 15 to 22, and other supporting characters. The untimely death of the sisters' father, a viscount, has placed them under the guardianship of Rafe Jourdain, Duke of Holbrook. The thirty-something duke is someone the sisters have never before met, and whom their somewhat reckless father knew only slightly. Nonetheless, they leave their home in Scotland and are welcomed by Rafe at his estate in the English countryside. Tess feels guilty that the duke is burdened with four young women who are not his relations. In order to lessen Rafe's burden, Tess decides to marry quickly so that she can then take over responsibility for her sisters. She is almost instantly wooed by the Earl of Mayne, a friend of Rafe's who she likes but does not have strong romantic feelings for and vice versa. Tess does have strong feelings when around Lucias Felton, a wealthy businessman, and he seems to be interested in her as well. However, Lucias strangely acquiesces to his friend Mayne's suit and does not declare for Tess. Tess feels that she cannot afford to hold out for Lucias when there is so willing and desirable a candidate as Mayne is in the offing. How this dilemma is resolved, as well as miscellaneous flirtations, engagements and weddings, is at the heart of the novel.

The first half of this story was slow moving with too many things going on with too many different characters. Also, Tess' sisters were a little difficult to like or feel much sympathy for. The book took off in the second half and was much better. I enjoyed how Tess and Lucian related to each other in such an all-consuming way, and I liked Tess' enthusiasm and Lucias' sweetness.
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