The Ugly Duchess
Release Date: Aug 28, 2012
Retail Price: 7.99
Heat Level: Hot
How can she dare to imagine he loves her . . . when all London calls her The Ugly Duchess?
Theodora Saxby is the last woman anyone expects the gorgeous James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, to marry. But after a romantic proposal before the prince himself, even practical Theo finds herself convinced of her soon-to-be duke's passion.
Still, the tabloids give the marriage six months.
Theo would have given it a lifetime . . . until she discovers that James desired not her heart, and certainly not her countenance, but her dowry.
Society was shocked by their wedding . . . and is scandalized by their separation.
Now James faces the battle of his life, convincing Theo that he loves the duckling who blossomed into the swan.
And Theo will quickly find that, for a man with the soul of a pirate, All's Fair in Love—and War.
Love is a fickle thing, and if you want to marry for it then time is usually needed. In Theodora Saxby’s case, no time is given since her best friend kissed her at a ball and they were discovered. James Ryburn, Early of Islay truly loves Theo, or Daisy as he calls her, with or without her dowry. But paradise is fleeting when Theo discovers James father’s embezzlement of her funds. Feeling betrayed she banishes James and from there the long road to reconciliation begins.
I’m a super fan of Eloisa’s fairy tale re-telling line. I love her ideas and the way she ties in the original fairy tale to her stories. Her characterization is phenomenal and she has a way of dragging my emotional reactions to the surface. Dialogue is another area that Eloisa excels in and my favorite moment of this book was where James proclaimed his initial desire to have Theo for himself
“I love Daisy. I am going to marry Daisy.”
Those lines, the possessiveness raised the hairs on my arms. I expected so much conflict and strength from James that wouldn’t be denied; essentially I wanted an alpha hero.
So why the mid-range rating? I felt cheated. There is a ton of suffering in this story. Challenges that both hero and heroine are put through to help them grow beyond the problems they faced in younger years and through the first couple of years of their separation. I felt cheated because only the last quarter of their book involved the reconciliation, and James is not the alpha male I thought he was.
Now character, plot, and storyline they all fit together and I was able to ride the waves of both Theo’s and James’ journey’s feeling their loneliness and suffering. Theo is definitely the ugly duckling turned swan. In her swan state she’s not a nice person and very controlling. She’s so rigid that everything must be completed in a perfect way or else she’ll freak out. When James arrives ‘back from the dead’ he has to break down this rigid wall. Unfortunately, the wall isn’t much of a challenge.
James is a different man too, no longer the angelic beauty he’s bald, tanned, and stocky. Life on the ship changed him drastically, but he’s still in love with Theo. I found the parts containing James’ journey to be a bit upsetting. He didn’t really embody the hero aspects I would normally fall for. Did I want him and Theo to figure things out? Yes, but he took some actions during his seven year disappearance that made me doubt his love and devotion.
Theo and James coming back together again after he’s been a pirate for 7 years, and she’s iced over with grief, betrayal, and indignation. This should have consumed more the story. I couldn’t believe they could resolve all their issues in just a few short chapters. It seemed unreal or more of fairy tale. In Eloise’s stories thus far, even with the fairy tale element, the gradual growth of romance is always present; not sudden.
Overall, I loved the tension, the challenges the characters faced. I loved Eloisa’s way of creating multi-faceted people from a fairy tale. I enjoyed the journey, but felt it could’ve been pieced together a bit better; less time spent divulging what happened when they were apart and more time spent on breaking down their troubles and solving them.
Reviewed by Landra
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