Three Weeks with Lady X
Avon / March 25, 2014 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital
Having made a fortune, Thorn Dautry, the powerful bastard son of a duke, decides that he needs a wife. But to marry a lady, Thorn must acquire a gleaming, civilized façade, the specialty of Lady Xenobia India.
Exquisite, headstrong, and independent, India vows to make Thorn marriageable in just three weeks.
But neither Thorn nor India anticipate the forbidden passion that explodes between them.
Thorn will stop at nothing to make India his. Failure is not an option. But there is only one thing that will make India his.
The one thing Thorn can't afford to lose—his fierce and lawless heart.
Fans of Eloisa James’s Desperate Duchesses series, especially those whose hearts were stolen by Leopold Dautry, Duke of Villiers, will be delighted that Thorn Dautry, oldest of Villiers’s six illegitimate children is, in the words of the heroine of Three Weeks with Lazy X, “a chip off the old duke.” One description particularly evoked the scene-stealing Villiers from the earlier books: "Shoulder to shoulder, the duke and his son looked like an illustration in Gentleman’s Magazine of handsome gentlemen wearing the very latest fashions.” But even though Thorn is the physical image of his father from his impressive body to the white streak in his hair and also possesses the duke’s air of command, he is quite different from Villiers in significant ways.
Thorn was twelve when Villiers found him and changed him from Juby the mudlark, forced to risk life and limb searching the dirty Thames for objects that could be sold, to Tobias, illegitimate but recognized son of a powerful duke. His early years left him with edges that not even the years that followed in a privileged household with his siblings and a loving father and step-mother could smooth away. In Eloisa James's Three Weeks with Lady X, readers learn he is more than a former mudlark and more than his father’s son. He is Thorn, a self-selected name for a self-made man who earned his fortune, who accepts his bastardry and who refuses to disguise a roughness that is natural to him but foreign to the polished Villiers.
Before the heroine, Lady Xenobia India St. Clair, orphaned daughter of an earl, first sees Thorn, she expects him to be a man with an ambition to overcome his illegitimate birth but uncertain of his ability to do so, but her first look at him convinces her that it is a “grave miscalculation” to view him as a man in need of her reassurance.
He walked toward them with the effortless confidence of a man who is formidable in every respect, even though he wore no coat or cravat, just a white linen shirt and breeches that stretched over his thigh muscles. Stubble darkened his jaw, and his hair was neither pulled back in a neat queue nor covered by a wig.
He looked like a farm laborer.
Or a king.
India would guess that he dominated any group of men in which he found himself. Birth hierarchy would be displaced by a more primal hierarchy of maleness. He breathed a power brewed from masculinity and intelligence, not from an accident of inheritance.
Thorn has purchased Starberry Court to create a suitable home for the bride he plans to wed soon, and India, Lady X, at the request of her friend Eleanor, Duchess of Villiers, has agreed to help Thorn transform his purchase into a place grand enough to impress a foolishly arrogant prospective mother-in-law. Thorn believes he has found the perfect wife, a young woman who is beautiful, sweet, and simple. The last thing he wants is a complicated woman, and he recognizes almost immediately that India is wholly complicated. India, who is reluctant to choose a husband, believes her perfect mate is a man who will let her be in charge, a man who is Thorn’s opposite. Of course, they are both wrong about what they need.
India, for all her blue blood and aristocratic family line, is as much self-made as Thorn. The daughter of a pair of eccentrics madly in love with one another and fond but neglectful parents, India grew up with little education and no training for her position. Her parents’ death when she was fifteen left her penniless, and it was only the good fortune of her godmother’s offer of a home that gave her a place. She has used her natural ability to turn chaos into order to create a profession that pays well enough to allow her to buy her own diamonds and provide her own dowry. The latter is particularly important since it guarantees her the freedom to choose her own husband rather than accept whoever offers for the daughter of an impoverished earl. She even, like Thorn, dresses differently to create different impressions.
She had to wear gowns that promoted respect, but also trust. In order to do her job, the people who hired her must feel she could be trusted with their homes, and dressing in the very latest styles often frightened them.
Consequently she traveled with three trunks, because she never knew how she might need to present herself. Sometimes the master of a household responded best if she dressed like a duchess, with an emphasis on diamonds. . . .
Other times she presented herself as a docile, modest young lady, who valued every word that dropped from the man’s lips. And then there were times when the seventeen-year-old scion of the house was clearly going to make a nuisance of himself. She would come to breakfast wearing a dress of brown homespun reminiscent of a German governess.
It takes time and a journey from being witty adversaries to acknowledging a rare friendship to becoming lovers and then overcoming self-imposed barriers before Thorn and India realize what the reader knew from the first: they are meant for each other. The payoff for the reader is an HEA that is fully, heart-meltingly satisfying. Sigh!
Learn more or order a copy of Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James, out March 25, 2014:
Janga spent decades teaching literature and writing to groups ranging from twelve-year-olds to college students. She is currently a freelance writer, who sometimes writes about romance fiction, and an aspiring writer of contemporary romance, who sometimes thinks of writing an American historical romance. She can be found at her blog Just Janga and tweeting obscure bits about writers as @Janga724.