Duchess by Night by Eloisa James.
Harriet, Duchess of Berrow and a widow, is tired of feeling matronly and dowdy, old beyond her time. So when a friend plans to go to the abode of the scandalous Lord Strange, Harriet decides to cross-dress as Harry Cope in order to accompany and chaperone her friend. When Lord Strange (the usual: tall, dark, and handsome) gets a look at feminine Mr Cope, he decides the boy isn't going to survive in his house of rogues, loose women, and risque parties. So Lord Strange takes Harry under his wing to turn him into a man, to teach him to ride, fence, and go after the right women. But what will Lord Strange do when he finds out Harry isn't a man at all?
What this book had going for it:
- Cross-dressing. As I mentioned in my first post on this book, cross-dressing allows for numerous possibilities of erotic tension.
- Sex scenes—James did not skirt around sex. Well, not as much as some romance authors. She used real words for male anatomy. And she included ORAL SEX. Why is oral sex a big deal, you ask? Women mostly orgasm from clitoral stimulation, but many romance novels conveniently ignore this fact. Much to my EXTREME ANNOYANCE.
- The game. The game, well, I can't tell you, because if you plan on reading Duchess by Night it will be a small spoiler. But the game is an intriguing idea.
- Fencing. And the various scenes and dialogue that accompany the fencing.
- Did I mention the cover is a delightful shade of green?
Problems I had with this book:
- Use of redundant adverbs. This is one of my pet peeves. J.K. Rowling does it too. "What's going on?" Harry asked curiously. If Harry wasn't curious, Harry wouldn't be asking in the first place, now would he?
- Misuse of Sensibility. See previous post.
- A couple characters (an eight-year-old, a low class woman) had inauthentic voices.
- Harriet's widowhood. Her husband committed suicide after losing a chess game. OK, so he really liked chess. But he killed himself over it? We're going to need more character development for that one to be believable.
So, you can see, overall the problems I had with the book were nitty-gritty details. There were some tropes of the romance genre that didn't particularly strike my fancy, but I can't think of any examples at the moment. Generally, it was an enjoyable read, exceedingly pleasant, and I would read more from this author. If you've got an interest in the romance genre, Duchess by Night wouldn't be a bad way to go.