Eloisa James is one of the better current writers of historical romances. Although her books do contain some historical inaccuracies and some Americanisms
- and A Duke of Her Own is no different - they still read as an enjoyable historical romance. She works hard at characterization and crafting three-dimensional heroes and heroines in her stories.
The Duke of Villiers has appeared in several of her previous books as a mysterious, chess-playing duke.
Here he is still mysterious, but his nature is slowly revealed as we see him interact with his children
- he has six illegitimate children. Also observing is Eleanor, daughter of the Duke of Montague, a woman who said she would only marry a duke - when the duke that she loved and wanted to marry married another. Vowing to only marry a duke when there are so few leaves her pretty safe from having to marry someone else
whom she doesn't love.
But now there is a duke on the market - the Duke of Villiers - and he needs a
woman from a good family who will have the status to bring up his bastard
children. He sees two possibilities for the role, Eleanor and another duke's
daughter named Lisette, so he spends some time with both of them during a party at Lisette's father's house. Villiers has a particular requirement in his bride, and Eleanor's heart is someone else's, but can they both change their minds?
What particularly succeed in A Duke of Her Own is the characterization, the slow way in which we learn about Eleanor and watch her understand the nature of her
own feelings for the two dukes in her life. Villiers has always been rather
remote in previous books and is still a little such in this, but it's good to see some humor and warmth in him.
Overall, A Duke of Her Own is a very good read. I found the house party situation (with adjoining bedrooms sharing a balcony between Eleanor and Villiers) unlikely, especially as the property is spoken of as Knole House in Kent (with which I am familiar), and some of the conversation seem a bit too modern for those days, but
this is worth reading for those who enjoy the genre.