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FINAL DECISION: I loved this novella. The story of the Duke and Duchess of Lindow and how they met and fell in love was precisely the book I needed. Sweet and sexy and fit exactly within the Wildes of Lindow series.
THE STORY: Hugo Wilde, the Duke of Lindow, has been somewhat unlucky in love. His beloved first wife died, and then his second wife ran off with a golden-haired count and abandoned Hugo and their children. Having obtained a divorce, Hugo needs to find another wife for his children's sake. He sees Ophelia, Lady Astley, a widow with a daughter, and immediately knows that she is the one for him. But Phee doesn't want to remarry or take care of other children, so she rejects Hugo. But perhaps Phee isn't ready to give up Hugo when he continues his search for a wife.
OPINION: This book works well, especially with the characters being established in the series. Hugo is enormously caring as a father, and this novella makes clear that his only concern in finding a wife is to have a woman who can help his children. On his own, he would be happy not to marry again. He isn't even caring so much about having a woman who can be a mother, but rather his youngest daughters need someone who can help pave their way through society. Hugo's practical reasons for marriage are quickly undone when he meets Ophelia. Like all the Wildes, Hugo is profoundly emotional and loving. The passion and devotion I loved with his children are clearly presented here.
Ophelia is strong and unwilling to fall for Hugo when they meet. She is satisfied with her life. She is independent and happy with her daughter. She had a good marriage and doesn't feel the need to take on a brood of children or another man.
One thing I loved about his book is how the expectations for marriage by both Hugo and Ophelia are undone as the attraction, both physical and emotional, grows between them. Their relationship is sweet, funny, and so wonderful that I loved their story.
WORTH MENTIONING: I also loved that we get to see the Wildes heroes and heroines as children, and they are as amusing and naughty as they are as adults.
CONNECTED BOOKS: MY LAST DUCHESS is a prequel to the Wildes of Lindow Castle series.
Hugo is a Duke. He was a young widower with children and he remarried. His second wife was not a nice woman. She walked away with a Prussian and left their 4 children behind. She never looked back. Hugo divorced her and now, according to his sister, he must find another duchess. He has 8 children. And even though it is “not done” for the nobility, he loves every one of them.
The desired qualities of a bride Hugo and his sister, Louise, describe would make a person wonder why in the world marriage would ever be in his future.
While at a ton event, he spies Ophelia. She is not a beauty, but in Hugo’s eyes, she is perfect.
Ophelia is a young widow. She has one 2 year old daughter, Viola. Viola is her world, and as far as she is concerned, her life is perfect. She has Viola, she has wealth and she has a nice peaceful existence.
Ophelia does not need a husband. And certainly not some man who looks at her as though she were an enticing piece of chocolate.
At times I have not fallen in love with Ms James’ books. They are generally well done. But, for me not everyone is a treasure.
This book is a treasure.
Ophelia is a wonderful heroine. It comes as a shock to her when she realizes that maybe her life is not perfect. She is a loving mother, she has a sense of humor and she finds Hugo to be a force of nature. He is handsome, and charming and funny and loving.
When Ophelia meets Hugo’s children, she finds that she could love every one of them.
In fact, Ophelia could love Hugo.
This is a fun story.
Ms James is a master at creating characters who draw me into the story. I was involved from the first 3 or 4 pages.
I liked this book very much. The Wildes are a fascinating family and this story explains why that is true.
If a reader is looking for passion and humor and a strong sense of family love, this is the perfect choice.
My Last Duchess is a prequel to this series of The Wildes of Lindow Castle. The events in this title precede the events in the actual series titles as in they don't fall in between Say Yes to The Duke and Wilde Childe though it was published in between those. This title is among the type I consider comfort reads never mind how hot it also is :) It's just that kind of a story and foremost how and in what style it's told. Very charming. You really fall for the characters. I love how this author writes the characters and interaction.
Going in I knew what it was about and what it acts as a background to. If you don't when contemplating getting into this story or the series in general, this title's about Hugo Wilde, a Duke who's a future patriarch to a big family whose romantic adventures the series is about, and his third and final wife, Ophelia, therefore the name My Last Duchess. When this story starts, the Duke is in the unenviable position of being first a widow then also on top a cuckolded and a divorced Duke and a single parent to a whole gaggle of kids both young and older by the past two of his wives besides an adopted child, too. In essence, he's in need of a suitable wife, stat, preferably yesterday. It's just who's going to be suitable and willing to take on that kind of a huge ready-made family and whether he's going to find success in his wooing of the lady and if he's going to find personal happiness or not.
I loved their interaction, the story was good and charming. Great writing. It was a great peace to complement the series. It fits well in. If you love historical romance and either have read the series or contemplate getting to know the Wildes for the first time I can recommend this title.
A good portion of the e-book file contained other material in addition to this story. There was a whole another unrelated story besides a short sample. The whole length of it isn't about this story.
My Last Duchess is a return to Lindow Castle, but back in time. This is the story of Hugo, Duke of Lindow, after he's been left and has divorced his second wife, Yvette; his first wife, Marie, died young. He has 8 children and no duchess. At the urging of his sister, he's looking for another wife, this one to be a mother to his children, not to have more children. After all, he has EIGHT children. It is instalove when he sees Ophelia, Lady Astley, a young widow with a child of her own. The entire story is about them falling in love. They have immediate attraction and immediate pull to each other. In an age when perhaps the nobility were engaged, if not outright married, after very little interaction, the instalove trope works fine. And because both characters have had successful marriages, and one has had a disastrous marriage, they bring their expectations and experiences with them. So this isn't ingenues who will be disappointed later and that's a refreshing take.
It is a romantic tale, basically low conflict with the majority of conflict being wrapped up in another possible fiancee for Hugo and the two main characters learning to communicate and decide that yes, this is what they each want. It's fun to see the children as youngsters, including the (is he or isn't he) late Horatius. There's some heat on the page, fitting the story and the characters. I especially like an chance to see two more mature characters who fall in love. It's not a marriage of convenience or for the sake of finding a parent for their offspring. These two come together and plan to make a life.
The snapshots of the children as youngsters are charming and humorous. I love Hugo's sister, the right amount of being sharp and funny. Also Ophelia's friend, Maddie, is a delight. I didn't buy the fake pregnancy storyline with her but it's insignificant to the main plot and did not bother me. The aristocrat that Hugo almost becomes engaged to, is a classic stick up her rear snob and cringe worthy in the best way.
If you're looking for heavy suspense, heavy conflict, or heavy angst, this isn't it. I, for one, am happy to have a romantic historical romance. and recommend this one fully.
I love most of Eloisa James’ books. She has a gift for creating believable characters, not only the main hero and heroine, but also the supporting characters as well. This is the sixth in the Wilde’s of Lindow Castle series, and is a prequel filling in the story of how Hugo, Duke of Lindow found happiness with his third wife. It is quite a short story, and I think it was a mistake to pad out the book with a glimpse of chapter 1 from the first of the series and with a short story from Eloisa’s Fairy Tales. I think I would have preferred, as other reviewers have said, for it to have been released as a novella, and maybe not charged £5.99 for it? However, I am giving it five stars because I loved Ophelia as a character, and I loved Hugo. Maybe because as an older reader, the idea of a sexy, handsome older man is more appealing now than it would have been in my twenties. Could it have been longer? Well, when I love a book, I don’t want it to end, so I wish there had been more, but I don’t think Eloisa pads out her plots just to do this unlike a lot of other authors do. The Frost Fair chapters were good, and taught me something about our own history that I hadn’t known. The story drew me in immediately, there was plenty of humour (of course), vignettes of the younger Wilde’s as children and teenagers and poignant glimpses of Horatius as a teenager. I am already missing reading about the family, and have pre-ordered the next in the series. Hopefully by March next year, Covid will be an unhappy memory, and reading that book will be a different experience than in this tier three lockdown. I do recommend this, but read the other books in the series first, otherwise a reader will find this puzzling, like coming into a film halfway through and driving your family mad by asking who that is? Or why are they doing that?
I've just re-read this book and not sure why I didn't write a comment about it previously. It's a pure delight! The Duke is just the sort of man we would all love to meet, while his Duchess could be any one of us - unsure of our own attractiveness until we find "the one". Eloise James has the ability to draw you in to the story so that you believe in the characters. She is able to make the children sound like fun to be with, not perfect angels nor little devils (at least most of the time!), something that not all authors are able to achieve. I've read the rest of the series and each book is as good as the last, in fact when you finish the last you feel bereft there are no more! Although a novella this book is well worth it's 5* rating.
I admittedly had a low bar for this book since as an avid Eloisa fan, I'd read much of the book in previous installments that were sent to readers who pre-ordered the other books in the series. But I was looking for something happy and hopeful during this season and so dove in. And I couldn't put it down. It's definitely not as lengthy and developed as some of her other books, but I didn't expect it to be knowing that it was an expanded novella. I was still absolutely delighted by the characters. And the quality of phrasing in an Eloisa James cannot be matched in Romance. I read A LOT and especially with the number of self-published books (which I also enjoy!), it is rare to come across writing that is as clever and witty as her work. In my opinion, she sets the standard for quality craftsmanship in Romance and rarely misses.
If you've read the rest of the Wildes series, I think you'll love this novella about the Duke and his third wife. Hugo has a lot of children and needs a wife (another one as his first one died and the second one absconded to Europe with a lover). Ophelia is a widow with a daughter of her own and has no intention of any involvement with Hugo and his eight children. But Hugo is a man in love and won't be denied. This is a lovely story about two older people finding love again. It's so much fun as a reader of the other books to see how the Duke and Ophelia met and married.