Ladies and gentleman, we have a bodice ripper!

Well, not quite. If you look at the cover, you see an undone dress of a very frilly matter, and indeed, Eloisa James’ A Duke of Her Own(pub. date July 28) is a historical romance, but this isn’t your grandmother’s romance. It involves a woman who would fit in modern day times (without the classic manners of course).

Eleanor Lindel does not have a husband. Given that she’s in her early 20s in 1784, she’s frightfully close to being called a spinster. She still holds a candle for her teenage love, who was forced to marry another woman to whom he was betrothed at birth (and they actually had sex — scandal!) She has announced that she will marry no one under the stature of a Duke. Sounds haughty” Sure is. But it was her way of sending a message to said teenage love, who happens to be a duke.

In strides the Duke of Villiers. He’s a rake in every sense of the word, from his dark brooding looks to his six illegitimate children, who he is finding and bringing under his own roof. He needs a mother for them, and he’s a duke. And the story rolls from there.

I’ve never read a historical romance outside of sneaking peaks at other books (I remember going through a bunch at the library when I was a teenager and putting them back — not a fan). But this was a really enjoyable book to read. James is actually Dr. Mary Bly, a Shakespeare scholar at Fordham University. I interviewed her yesterday for another article I’m writing about the romance novel industry, and I could see the skill she puts into the writing. It’s a very tight narrative, funny and even weaves Shakespeare and Lord Byron works into the story without hitting you over the head with academics.

James/Bly has a great back story. You can read about it when my article comes out in May, or click here. I remember reading about here in 2005 when she shared with the public that she was a Shakespeare professor. See, all that random knowledge rolling around my brain CAN be handy!

When searching for a cover image of James/Bly’s book, I came across an older book with the same title:

YIKES on the cover (the abs! the fuchsia!) though the pub date on THIS version of that title is 2006. I like the James/Bly cover better.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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