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The Scandalous Ladies of London: The Duchess


The Scandalous Ladies of London: The Duchess

Unlike most historical romance novels, which feature young, innocent debutantes and older, more sophisticated males, Sophie Jordan's Regency romance series focuses on mature women. The main characters in these books are women who are either the mothers of young, innocent debutantes or of an age that they could be mothers to the debutantes. These are not young ingenues but rather seasoned, experienced women who may have been married but have not had the joy of a loving relationship. While they are not in the first blush of youth, their beauty has grown with age, like a fine wine.

In THE DUCHESS, the second installment in this series, the focus is on Valencia, the Dowager Duchess of Dedham, after the untimely death of her husband the previous year. In fact, his demise is related in the first book, THE COUNTESS, as the Duke of Dedham takes a fall down a flight of stairs to his death during a house party. In this novel, details regarding the circumstances of this incident are revealed.

"This series is a delightful spin on the typical Regency romance while still retaining the comfortable romance format and happily-ever-after ending."

Valencia has been living as the Duchess of Dedham for the past year, since she and her husband had no children, and the new duke has not been located. She is in the elegant London townhouse, and her year of mourning is now over. She is free to finally enjoy the advantages of being a widow after many years of a miserable marriage. This union was unexceptional until the Duke was seriously injured, and the subsequent pain he suffered caused him to inflict pain and abuse on his wife. And just as she is ready to embark upon that life of freedom, the new duke appears with his extended family. Valencia is told that she must leave London to go to the wilds of Yorkshire where the dower house awaits her. All that has been provided for her by her late husband is a miserly stipend on which to live.

While many would find a house and a stipend ample cause for celebration, Valencia is bitter at her fate. All her close friends are in London, and her husband had set up his mother, the former dowager duchess, in a town home with a generous stipend. But women were powerless during that time, as Jordan reminds us, and the Duke of Dedham didn't care enough to make sure she'd be comfortable. Her father, also wealthy, does not offer to help her much, either.

But the new duke, a handsome single man around Valencia's age, has six unmarried sisters. He and his mother quickly realize that they need help to launch the girls into London high society. Add in the attraction that the new duke feels for Valencia from the first time he lays eyes on her, and we know she isn't going anywhere --- especially when those feelings are mutual.

This series is a delightful spin on the typical Regency romance while still retaining the comfortable romance format and happily-ever-after ending. It's a perfect novel for women who don't necessarily relate to young, innocent debutantes (teenagers basically). These older, mature characters are more relatable as they chafe and fret at the silken chains of misogyny that bind them into their roles as the women of high society. Jordan cleverly depicts women, at a time in history when they had little control over their lives, who make the most of their brains as well as their beauty.

In this series, we learn about not just the protagonist, but her friends and family as well. All of this serves to make each book a very enjoyable and light read, with a group of fascinating women we want to know more about.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on March 29, 2024

The Scandalous Ladies of London: The Duchess
by Sophie Jordan