Sunday, March 23, 2008
The Essex Sisters Series, Eloisa James
Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am not one to gush, so please excuse this one uncharacteristic act. Here it comes. Wait for it.
Oh, how I loved these books!
It is also an established fact that for the most part, I do not re-read. Most of my favorites are tucked away someplace, should I decide, in a moment of rare spare time, to go back and revisit them. But I never do. Or didn't until now. I read this series and then re-read it because it is well worth it. And whatever I missed the first time around, I found the second and the experience just got better. Allow me to share.
Orphaned and homeless, the four Scottish Essex sisters - Tess, Annabel, Imogen and Josie - find themselves the wards of Rafe, the Duke of Holbrook. The Duke is expecting to foster young children, barely out of the nursery. He's quite surprised, to say the least, when four breathtakingly beautiful, impoverished young women descend upon his household. The girls' father squandered his fortune on his stables, but had the questionable foresight to arrange a dowry of a horse for each of the four girls. Normally, that would raise a few eyebrows, but not among Rafe's very eligible, very handsome friends who luckily have a keen appreciation for good horseflesh. It's just as well, for the four sisters are determined to have at least one in their ranks marry and marry well so that they will no longer be a burden.
While the premise sounds vaguely familiar, what follows is unique. For example, the Duke cares more about whiskey than himself. There is a tragic early death in which a main character is dispatched. Later, one of the sisters finds herself the object of cruel ridicule for carrying too much weight (albeit in all the right places) and then there is the journey to Scotland. This sojourn is so steeped in sexual tension that it actually sizzles.
Please read these four wonderfully written stories in the correct order. Tess is swept off her feet in "Much Ado About You." Annabel finds true love in "Kiss Me, Annabel." Imogen surprises us all in "The Taming of the Duke" and finally, Josie finds true happiness in "Pleasure for Pleasure." The four books are really one long continuing tale with overlapping story lines and extensive character development carried throughout. And I guarantee that you will have a warm feeling when you're done with the entire series, and not for the reason you might think. Although talented men abound, the main focus is not the hunks, but the strong, supportive relationship between the four sisters. And it is this theme that what will stay with you long after the marriage proposals are offered and accepted.
Please go read these books!
Excuse me again.