cover image DUCHESS IN LOVE


Eloisa James, . . Avon, $6.99 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-06-050810-4

Fresh and witty, this high-spirited Regency-era romance gives a tried-and-true formula a merry spin. Cam Serrard, the duke of Girton, leapt out of a window and ran off to Greece immediately after being forced into wedding 11-year-old Gina. Instead of resenting him, however, Gina spends the next 12 years sending him friendly letters. When Cam finally returns to England to grant Gina an annulment so she can marry a marquess who loves her, the warm easiness between the childhood friends doesn't surprise them, but the flare of desire does. Before long, Gina starts to wonder if being the wife of a nude-sculpting, frequently absent and socially careless duke might not be such a bad future. Chatter among Gina and her friends has the modern ring of a Sex and the City episode, and James's cheeky, sometimes sly humor makes for frequent laugh-out-loud moments. Avoiding easy stereotypes, James fleshes out all of her characters and gives them depths of emotion that romances seldom allocate to supporting characters. Though each chapter is headed by a droll description of the events to come, readers may find themselves too caught up in the snowballing action to take much notice. (Dec. 3)

Forecast:Excellent reviews, positive word-of-mouth and a national print advertising campaign will ensure that James's move from hardcover to paperback is as successful as possible. James's appearance on NPR's "The Next Big Thing" in December is bound to bolster sales as well.