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~Enchanting Pleasures~

by Eloisa James

      Heroine:   plump/voluptuous

   Gabrielle Jerningham is a bride being given away by her father.  Literally.  The old man, who has no love for his awkward and untidy daughter, jumps at the chance to ship her from his palace in India half-way around the world to England, where she'll marry the son of his old chum Viscount Dewlan sight-unseen.  Or nearly so.  Declaring it makes her face look too round, Gabby refuses to send a portrait of herself to her betrothed.  But the viscount sends along a miniature of his younger son Peter, whom he deems his only chance at keeping the family line secure. (Quill, his eldest, was injured in an accident some time before and believes himself unable to father children, since participating in any type of activity involving repetitive motion leaves him plagued with migraines for days afterwards.)

   Gabby, young, alone, and aching for love becomes deeply infatuated with Peter's likeness, imagining him to be a tender and soft-spoken gentleman who will cherish her from they moment they first meet.  But reality breaks her heart when she arrives in England and discovers that he is nothing more than an arrogant fop with minimal interest in the fairer sex, except where the topic of fashion is concerned.

   Quill sees that Gabby is presented with options which could only result in a lifetime of misery:  return to her hateful father in India; marriage to Peter, who is also sure to tear her down every chance he gets; or be saddled with a cripple if he should marry her himself.  The headstrong financial whiz elects to pursue the last course of action: marry the voluptuous Gabby and take her to his bed regardless of the physical consequences he knows he'll suffer.

   Gabby soon falls in love with her handsome fiancé and will risk anything to help heal his malady, even if it means deceiving him.  But is the cure worth the risk of losing the respect of the man she loves? Or even the man himself?

      What worked for me:

    Even though the main romance was an enjoyable one to follow, I personally loved the secondary romance, which had more touches of the traditional Regency novel.  I could easily have seen this storyline fleshed out as a fourth installment in the "Pleasures" series.

    Size-wise Gabby is soft and lush in the eyes of Quill, but appears overly-fleshy to his brother Peter.  For myself, I saw her as looking like Kate Winslet might if she added 20 pounds or so.    

       What didn't work for me:

    Far more naive than other girls her age, Gabby's impetuous behavior was for the most part charming.  Or at least it was until the climax of the story, at which point she just seemed extremely immature by acting out in the same all-or-nothing fashion of Juliet Capulet.    

Overall:

    A good read for fans of sensual Regency-Setting romances who appreciate excellent writing.  Though it can stand on its own, I think folks owe it to themselves to read the two earlier books of the trilogy first.  I certainly plan on seeking them out myself.

   If you liked "Enchanting Pleasures" you might also enjoy "Miss Carlyle's Curricle", "Slightly Wicked", "Into Temptation", "Suddenly You", "The Accidental Bride", "The Bride and the Beast", "The Fire-Flower", "The Last Days of a Rake", "Somebody to Love", "Cat and the Countess", "The Courtship", or "Enchanting Pleasures".

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