This Duchess of Mine is wonderful in a way that is literally hard to put into words. The Georgian-set "Desperate Duchesses" series is definitely one to follow from the beginning, although it's not imperative you do so - you'll just be glad that you did. I've been anxiously awaiting This Duchess of Mine, Jemma's story, for some time now and this book did not disappoint me in the slightest. It's exactly what we have all hoped for and more than we thought it could be.
Jemma, the Duchess of Beaumont is a beautiful woman with a brilliant mind. Her courage and fortitude make her a fierce chess opponent and an even more frightening in other realms. Her beauty and ability to logically outthink and outmaneuver whomever her opponent may be make her one of the most respected and feared members of the ton. Jemma's one and only weakness is her husband, Elijah. Her deep and abiding love for him is, she knows, the one and only thing that causes her unbelievable pain. She came back from Paris to give him an heir but will she lose her heart and soul in the process?
Elijah, the Duke of Beaumont, is a beautiful man with a brilliant mind. His standing in Parliament is obvious and well-known. He is a man above all reproach. His father left him a legacy he long ago hoped he had absolved but his marriage to Jemma was another point of contention. She was amazing… at least to him. He knew other men wanted her, wanted to be seen with her. She's had her time. He's paid the price. Now he was going to get her back not because he wanted an heir, that was a fabulous excuse but not exactly accurate. He wanted her back because she was his – not his possession, but the possessor of his heart. And not the heart that was rapidly failing him either. How could he ever explain it all to Jemma in the little time that he had left?
Jemma is so complex at times, but then at others she's brilliantly simplistic. Elijah - oy what a mensch! If men like him truly existed, women wouldn't need to read nearly as much – we'd live it ourselves instead. Together, they wade through their past and emerge into their present with a newfound hope for their future. They discover that their future is not going to be together, however, because Elijah is dying, faster than either of them ever imagined.
Obviously, I loved this book. It's one you will not be able to put down so grab a hankie - you'll need it for later - and enjoy the ride. And just so you know, I did cry but on page 364. I cried those girly, silent, pretty kind of tears that one can only manage to do when touched so deeply only hope and love can come forth because, literally, nothing else exists in that moment of time. Scrumptious!
Speaking of hope and love…what about Villiers, you ask? Oh yes, he's here and he's changed. Well, changed isn't exactly the right word because Villiers will never truly change, thank God. It's more that he's had an epiphany, of sorts. Leopold Dautry, the notorious Duke of Villiers, must wed quickly and nobly but his choices are very few. Villiers' book is next - A Duke of Her Own. I truly cannot wait to see if love will be the one thing to bring him to his knees. Hopefully he's tied to the bed and forced to watch. He's so wonderfully naughty that anything could, and surely will, happen.