cover image An Affair Before Christmas

An Affair Before Christmas

Eloisa James, . . Avon, $7.99 (388pp) ISBN 978-0-06-124554-1

Entertaining and exciting throughout, there's enough seduction, laughter and surprises in the second Desperate Duchesses installment to satisfy even the most demanding fans of historical fiction. In the spring of 1783, four years after they married for love, irreconcilable differences in the bedroom have left the duke of Fletcher desperate for a mistress and Poppy, his wife, certain that “Fletch” no longer cares for her. Poppy was brought up by the ruthless and unwittingly hilarious Lady Flora, who believes that all men should take mistresses to relieve their wives of unpleasant marital duties, so she can hardly help her distaste for intimacy. When she discovers Fletch's plans for infidelity, she leaves him and moves in with the vivacious and sexy Jemma, duchess of Beaumont, who educates her in the merits of independent living. Meanwhile, Fletch contrives a plan to win her back. To round out a wonderfully busy and well-delivered plot, Jemma's likely paramour, the duke of Villiers, has developed an unlikely affection for the plain, brash spinster Miss Charlotte Tatlock, rumored to be another duke's mistress. With a menagerie of charming, unconventional characters and a great sense of fun, James's latest foray into Georgian romance suffers not a single dull moment. (Dec.)