4.5 "What is Love?" Stars! My American Duchess explores the age old question of what is love. A question that has perplexed those who believe in it and don't alike. Too frequently confused with infatuation, a response to trinkets bestowed on a courted one (poems, flowers or jewelry), or a reaction to passion; could it be possible that some individuals are more prone to this emotion, while others are incapable of it? Amidst this the philosophical existential backdrop, My American Duchess is also a comical journey through some of the more glaring differences between English and American society at around the turn of the nineteenth century. Both of these explorations, make for one incredible irresistible read, and when combined with Eloisa James' talented prose and intuitive understanding of romantic love, make My American Duchess a must read for the historical romance enthusiast. My American Duchess is set in London in 1803. After a string of engagements that all ended in a rather unfortunate set of events, Merry Pelford, an American heiress, has found herself in a dire situation. Having gained a reputation as being fickle in her affections, due to multiple engagements that never made it to the altar, her guardians have determined that her fate will fare better in England (where they believe the gossip hasn't spread). And in fact, it doesn't take very long after her arrival, for Merry to find another man that she is sure she is in love with. Within a few short weeks she finds herself engaged yet again. In fact, it is at the party at which her new engagement is announced that she stumbles upon another man that completely enthralls her. Perhaps even more distressing is the fact that he seems equally enthralled by her. There is something so different about his nature that begins a new battle within her. A war between what her heart desires and what her mind judiciously tells her she surely must need. Moreover, above all else, Merry is determined not to waste this one-time chance to segue into British society. After all, isn't it bad enough, that her boisterous personality is so at odds with the refined and reserved British culture? It's almost impossible to think that a respectable Englishman would take on the project that curbing her "American" ways into a refined and proper Englishwoman will no doubt be. Therefore, she is greatly afraid that if sh gives in to her capricious love whims, she will no doubt lose this last chance at marriage. The Duke of Trent can hardy believe his luck. A reserved and conservative man by nature, who learned as a young boy how painful unrequited love can be, his plan is to find a well-bred Englishwoman who will be able to fulfill her wifely ducal responsibilities with absolute aplomb. Emotions, fanfare, and speaking without a culturally acceptable filter, never were on his agenda. Yet, strangely, in many ways it is these same traits that seem to kindle his inevitable fascination with the deliciously, tempting Merry Pelford. And as her affections are rumored to be fickle, surely she will fall out of love as easily as seems to fall in love thereby ensuring that she will hardly notice that he is incapable of love. But once decided, it remains to be seen whether he can even win her over. And that's before even factoring in an unexpected conflict of monumental proportions that will render even his attempt to persuade Merry to jilt her present fiance, scandal prone material. Can there possibly be a future, much less a HEA, under this peculiar set of circumstances? My American Duchess was an absolute treat! Ms. James' facility with words, and use of interesting historical facts to add depth to her story--be on the lookout for a "rented pineapple"--further make this read a true treasure. I can't wait to read more of Ms. James' romances in the future! Source: Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review.