Thorn Daughtry, the bastard son of a duke, is looking to get married and he has the perfect candidate. She is nothing like the woman who is helping him renovate his new estate. India for her part wants no part in a marriage to a man she cannot manage and Thorn is anything but manageable. That being said, sparks fly within their first meeting and the two cannot seem to stay away from the other. Three Weeks with Lady X is our first read by author Eloisa James and it does not disappoint! Her whit and fast-moving plot kept us hooked from the very first page. **We do not neglect the SPOILERS**
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Want to listen to a certain segment? Here is our outline this week:
0:00 - 08:15: Intro/History Facts/ Author Facts/Tropes
08:15 - 29:39: Synopsis
29:39 - 32:13: Parlour
32:13 - 57:11: General Discussion
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We are now including our synopses as a semi-transcription of the episode in our blog posts. You can learn more about how we compose these by reading this article. As a reminder though, our synopses are FULL of spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk :)
Three Weeks with Lady X Synopsis:
Lady Xenobia India St. Clair had a terrible childhood. Her parents loved her but lived a bit in their own world, causing some negligent behavior. Then when she was 15, they died and she went to live with her godmother lady Adelaide Swift.
Lady Adelaide, while kind and loving, was not the managerial sort, so India, rebelling from her upbring, took charge.
She not only took on interior decorating but also took on the task of organizing the household. After her godmother started bragging to her friends about what a great job she did, she started getting hired out by other members of the ton.
However, it’s getting to the point where she should consider marriage. After organizing everyone else’s household, India wants one of her own.
She’s just had trouble with the idea of submitting to a man in any way.
Our hero has had a bit of a different upbringing. He is the oldest son of the Duke of Villiers, born on the wrong side of the blanket.
He lived on the streets as a boy, until he was found by his father and then brought up in a manner befitting a duke’s son.
Currently his best friend Vander, future duke, is trying to figure out why he’s going to settle down with Laetitia Rainsford.
“She’s beautiful, well born, and well bred. What more could I want?
A brain, Vander stated.”
Laetitia, for Thorn represents acceptance in society. Her family is well respected but currently low in cash. Thorn has lots of cash to burn and is looking to lift his social acceptability. He does not need love and since he doesn’t plan to spend much time with his future bride, he doesn’t really need a massive intellect either.
His mother was flaky women, who really only cared enough to use him as leverage with his father and when that no longer worked, she left him on the streets. Therefore, he doesn’t really trust women.
India and Thorn though are on a collision course. Thorn, in an effort to impress his potential future mother-in-law, bought an estate just outside London and it needs renovations.
His stepmother, a wonderful women and friend of Lady Adelaide, has asked that India oversee the renovations.
Which is why she and Lady Adelaide are on his doorstep in London.
Immediately India thinks to herself how handsome Mr. Dautry is also how he is not going to be easy to manage.
These two immediately have an attraction that brings out frustration in the other. Thorn started out dismissive of India and India, on her part, goes on the attack at being dismissed.
Thorn tells her he needs the house ready in a fortnight. India tells him that a job of that size will need at least 1-2 months.
He tries to fire her from the job but India does not accept.
“First, Eleanor hired me, not you. And second, you are the bastard son of a duke,” Lady Xenobia said bluntly, showing she had balls, to put it equally bluntly.
Do you realize you are the first lady who has ever said the word ‘bastard’ aloud to me?
She looked him straight in the eye. “The word has more than one meaning.” It seemed she applied at least two of those meanings to him.
After standing toe to toe throughout the meeting, they agree to meet at his estate in a couple days.
The next day, Thorn has a bit of an issue. A little girl has been dropped off at his doorstep. She is the daughter of his childhood friend Will, who has apparently died and named Thorn his daughter Rose’s guardian.
Rose is about 6 years old but speaks like an adult. Apparently her father said she had an old soul and has spent more time learning ancient greek than playing with dolls.
Thorn immediately knows the repercussions of becoming her guardian.
As a bastard, people will assume she is his bastard daughter. However, he will not shirk his sense of duty to Will and decides there is no way he can let his girl go elsewhere.
He makes sure she gets outfitted, and sets out finding her a governess. After making sure she has a doll, whom she names Antigone.
When next India and Thorn meet at Starberry Court (his estate), she immediately assumes Rose is his daughter.
After India is cleared up on the matter of who Rose is, they set out to assess the estate. It’s terrible. The house has no servants, almost no furniture, and a lot of statues of people in promiscuous positions.
India tries to quit, especially after she and Thorn do not see eye to eye on the magnitude of renovation and the timeline before the house party he is not throwing. Plus there is this attraction to a man who tries to rule everything around him.
The two of them cannot even have a quick conversation with sparks flying, until Thorn takes it a bit too far.
“If you ever say anything like that to me again, I will walk out that door and never return,” India stated. There was a moment of silence, and then he smiled again. It was galling to recognize a drop of admiration in his eyes. “Balls,” he said, “you’ve got them.”
They part ways with the promise of India delivering a mostly renovated house fit for a house party in three weeks.
The work starts and letters start flying back and forth from Starberry to London and back.
In the meantime, we meet Laetitia Rainsford, aka Lala, who actually knows she’s not bright. She gets tongued-tied when out in society and her mother is insufferable, demeaning and demanding.
She finds Thorn intimidating but she’ll do anything to get out of her mother’s household. Also it seems she has dyslexia so never learned to read, which is why she’s convinced she’s stupid.
Then we get more letters where Thorn gets witty and tries to get India to speak to him a more informal manner, requesting she call him Thorn from now on.
After this Thorn stops by to see the progress on the house. India is exhausted. She’s been working night and day in order to get things on track.
Thorn is concerned with the fact she is in the house alone, without even a maid. He literally picks her up and puts her into his carriage to take her to the inn, where she is staying.
On the way there, he grabs her, pulling her against him and tells her to sleep. Which she does, waking up in bed at the inn, still resting on Thorn.
They end up eating dinner together and get to know each other better. He tells her of his past as a mudlark, pulling things out of the Thames for money.
The wine with dinner and the opening up in conversation is giving both a feeling of closeness. At the urging to call him Thorn once again, India jokes about siblings and how next he’ll give her a goodnight kiss.
So he does. And then gives her an even better kiss.
Afterwards they quickly part. With India telling him it will not happen again. She is not his mistress and he plans to marry another.
The next day, she finds out his left early, without even a note. And both begin to once again communicate via letter.
The final letter prompting another visit from Thorn.
“Dear India, You have thrown down the gauntlet in terms of my vegetables, and my supposed shortfall. I could have proved it to you the other night. Thorn
Dear Mr. Dautry, There was no other night. You were dreaming. Lady Xenobia India St. Clair”
Thorn comes in hot the next night and not in a good way. He’s had a terrible day. Rose has rejected another governess and the rubber factory he’s trying to rebuild is having trouble producing workable models of his ideas.
Now he finds out India has been working very closely with the male artisan’s he’s hired and it’s making him feel things. So he decides to stay for dinner.
“She should wear a warning sign on her back. Before you knew it, you’d be in too deep to recover, find yourself on your knees mumbling nonsense, too taken by the way she burned with life and passion to save yourself.”
At dinner, India hears about his rubber factory dilemma, bands to strap down trunks but so far they cannot make any big enough, she tells him she’d love small rubber bands to bundle things together...haha! The rubber band is born.
Then things turn to thoughts on kissing and while they do kiss and enjoy it, they both know not to take it any further.
“India put her arms around his neck. ‘We are friends, you and I. I have no true friends, because I’ve never had time for them. I never had them when I was little either, because of my parents. You are my first true friend.’”
It was one thing to kiss India. She was unlike any other woman he’d met: curious, brave, and independent. She was a friend. But he couldn’t take it too far. He didn’t want to ruin everything.”
When next the two are in the same room, it’s a little teasing as India has found some naughty books the previous owner left behind and Thorn found her reading them. There is some innuendo but sadly, nothing yet for our encounter counter.
The house party draws near and Thorn, along with Rose move onto the property (Rose in the dower house until he marries Lala).
India visits with Rose and then ends up spending time alone with Thorn at dinner time. He takes her to the hammock he’s set up near the fishing hole and then they start making out and India asks for more. So after a little finger wandering (encounter 1), Thorn moves them to the gate house and we get encounter 2. (These are two chapters, so I’m counting them as two encounters) They did manage to say no strings attached with this one.
The next day the house party starts, which includes Lala and her mother arriving. As well as Vander and the Duke and Duchess of Villiers. Now Vander is there because Thorn at the start of all this said he would be a good match for India.
Lala immediately feels out of place watching India, Thorn, and Vander banter with ease back and forth. That and her mother is already being lofty and having one of her episodes.
However, things change when the local doctor comes to treat her mother. India had warned him of Lady Rainsford arrival and the amount of daily attention she’d need.
Lala is instantly smitten and ends up leaving the house with the doctor on his rounds. No one seems to notice…
The party proceeds. Thorn is jealous of Vander and his interest in India. After kissing her again, he tells her he was probably breaking their agreement based on his natural drive to compete with him.
India in not impressed and leaves him hanging. And after spending time with Rose the next day, she feels as if she cannot continue to get close to him.
Lala, after having to hear her mother talk about Lady Xenobia as a tramp who is probably sleeping with both Thorn and Vander to play the field, leaves and goes to search for Dr. Hatfield.
She finds him not at home but she does find a lot of people waiting to see him. She takes care of all of them and when John gets back, exhausted, finds things peaceful, he cannot help but kiss her.
Lady Adelaide tells India she believes Thorn is in love with her. India corrects her and tells her that he has every intention of marrying Lala. And she will go for Lord Brody (Vander).
It is in this conversation that India realizes that Thorn does indeed have her heart.
At dinner that night, she tries her best to ignore him. Which means he comes after her immediately demanding to know why he’s getting the cold shoulder. That leads to encounter 3 in a closet, without protection.
This rocks Thorn to the core. He’s never been this out of whack about a woman.
He asks the butler to send someone for a special license and then goes to India to tell her they will marry.
She of course refuses.
“He deserved better than she, someone sweet and soft. She swallowed hard. And she deserved someone who loved her, not someone forced by his sense of honor to marry her.”
They part ways angry but Thorn is no less determined to marry India.
Things are thrown for a loop though when Lady Rainsford finds Rose, accusing Thorn of hiding a bastard of his own. India tells her that Rose is her child. And when Lady Rainsford starts calling her names, Vander steps up telling her to watch her tongue around his future wife and future duchess. Real comedy of errors stuff now.
Lady Rainsford is told in no uncertain terms to leave immediately and the Duke of Villiers tells her he’ll make sure she’s ruined socially.
Rose was very upset by all this so Thorn quells his own rage and comforts her. Once she’s feeling better he confronts Vander and they fight. Literally.
Our comedy of errors continues when Thorn cannot find India and then his father tells him she’s gone with the special license.
Thorn rides through the night to break up the wedding, only to find out it was the wedding of Lala to Dr. Hatfield! Which is a relief but now Thorn has no idea where India is.
India had gone to the inn with Vander but in the end she never even kissed him. She cannot marry Vander. The next day she goes to Starberry and finds out Thorn chased after Lala...he must love her instead.
Thorn eventually finds India in London and presents her with a diamond ring and asks her to marry him again. She still refuses. Thinking that it is still this competition with Vander that drives him.
Therefore Thorn does the most manly thing he can do. He goes back to his mudlark ways to track down the jewels India’s parents had taken to london to be appraised. She thought they had gone to sell the jewels meant for her dowry but turns out they died after not selling them. Thorn is convinced they’re still in the Thames and can be gotten again.
Sure enough, he and his old gang (or what remains) does indeed find the jewels but Thorn almost dies in the process.
India, who is trying to forgot Thorn, is summoned by Thorn’s footman.
“He’s dying m’lady, he gasped. And the little girl wants you.”
She takes up vigil by Thorn’s side begging him to wake.
“I love you,” she said again, her voice breaking on a sob, “but I hate you too, because this is the first time I told you so, and you aren’t even listening. I hate you for making me fall in love with you. I hate you for wanting to marry someone sweet and fluffy as a duckling instead of me.”
He does rouse eventually. And with a soft “love you” falls into sleep.
The next day he wakes and they have a real talk. Clearing up the whole competition thing.
“I loved you before Vander arrived at the house; I simply didn’t realize it. I think I probably fell in love with you the moment you told me I had a shortfall.”
India gets her family jewels (which she tells Thorn were not worth his life even if it was very thoughtful) and the story that her parents were not on their way to abandon her when they died.
And then they live happily ever after.
In the epilogue we see they have 3 children and Rose is obviously a treasured member of the family dealing with her siblings.
And Starberry Court, the home India lovingly created, stood for generations as a loving home.