cover image Not That Duke

Not That Duke

Eloisa James. Avon, $9.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-313962-6

Bestseller James’s fun third Would-Be Wallflowers historical romance (after The Reluctant Countess) sets itself apart in the depth of its interpersonal complexities. Orphaned Lady Stella Corsham is decidedly not one of the incomparable beauties of her debut London season. An eccentric intellectual sporting spectacles, ill-suited clothes, and an unruly mop of red hair, she finds herself largely unaccompanied and wholly unimpressed by her prospects. Still, she longs for the love and admiration her fellow debutantes—especially the mysterious belle of every ball, Yasmin—attract. Silvester Parnell, Duke of Huntington, is the season’s biggest catch, and his indomitable mother is convinced that Stella is the only match for him, admiring her intelligence and backbone—but Silvester has his sights set on Yasmin. As his mother pushes Silvester and Stella together, the pair come to enjoy matching wits over rousing chess games, yet Silvester still doesn’t see Stella as a romantic partner—or so he tells himself. When he thinks he has competition for Stella’s affections, however, his own feelings become harder to deny. Though Stella’s self-pity grates through the first act, her steadily growing self-confidence is gratifying and her frank approach to her own sexual desires is refreshing. Lovers of historical romance will delight in these well-rounded, flawed characters learning to live their best lives. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, InkWell Management. (July)