Summary: Poppy and the Duke of Fletcher met in Paris and fell madly in love. However, thanks to Poppy being conditioned to think that women can never enjoy sex, relations between them have grown cold and frigid. It'll take a special Christmas to bring them back together again. Review: After the disappointment that was Desperate Duchesses, I thought that Eloisa James would improve if I gave her another chance. I have enjoyed some of her books in the past and she has a knack for amusing subplots and great secondary characters, not to mention an eye for historical detail. But what I've come to realize is that whenever I pick up one of her novels, I look for those things and practically ignore the main romance. Which, for a romance novel, is probably not a good sign. Why do I dislike many of her romances? Mostly, the genre cliches. The excessive sentimentality, the sideline homophobia (because men and women! come together like cookies and cream! so there can't possibly be any alternate sexualities that matter!), the creepy idealization of French culture, the naive heroines, the hyper manly heroes, the requisite "aww, aren't we happy with our brood of five million children?" epilogue. Yeah. You've seen it before and you see it again. Poppy had her decent moments, such as her interest in the natural sciences, but her overwhelming naivete and sweetness was too much for me to stomach, especially when James tried to give her some forward-thinking, modern qualities as well. There are authors who can combine these two sets of qualities together and make it work (that is, create a 3D character), but James isn't one of them. At her worst, Poppy seemed like a case of trying to have your cake and eat it too. Look, she's smart and strong and operates on some feminist ideals sure to appeal to the modern reader! But look, she's also demure and shy and easily convinced by everyone around her! She has no dark moments, only angelic ones! Weird. It's a shame that Poppy and Fletcher's romance bored me to tears. Because James really is good at constructing other types of stories. I absolutely loved the plot with Villiers, Charlotte, and Dautry. The interaction between Villiers and Charlotte fascinated me, and I would have loved to have seen an entire book revolve around them instead of boring old Poppy and Fletcher. Villiers himself is a great character, both cynical and dark but with sartorial elegance, hooray! He isn't afraid that liking fashion means he's a woman (which, gods forbid, is the Worst Thing Ever). So I will continue reading this series, mostly because Eloisa James continues to draw me back with her intriguing secondary characters that I want to see appear in future books. It's funny, but I think I would appreciate her in a different genre. Maybe more of a comedy of manners? I would love her romance novels as long as she left out the romance, haha. No, really, I'm serious. Conclusion: Poppy and Fletcher who?