Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

When James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, learns what his father has done to his best friends money, he is furious.  He is even more furious once his father tells him he must marry the girl to keep the scandal at bay.  James can not fathom marring Theodora Saxby, and not because of her unusual features, but because she is his best friend, a friend that grew up with him like a sister under his father's guardianship.  But duty abounds and he makes Daisy, as James calls her, his wife and together them seem to find a mutual passion and hope for their future.  Theo is stunned when James suddenly proposes but she believes his heartfelt declaration and goes into the marriage with her heart.  Her heart is quickly broken when the truth of the whole ordeal is revealed and she tosses James out and tries to find solace in mending the estate.  Seven years go by with no word from James and she makes the decision to have him declared dead so she can move on with her life.  To her utter shock, James returns and so do a host of feelings that had been left unresolved for so long.  Leaning the truth about James infidelity almost becomes the last straw.  How can James save this marriage that started off so wrong but feels so absolutely right now?

I am so torn about this book!  It started off wonderfully with love, passion and angst but then James left and took the seas and cheated even though he swore he never would.  Yes, he truly believed his marriage was over and he planned to stay away forever and let Theo move on with her life but....still....sigh.  When James is almost killed it finally puts his life into perspective and he returns home, in a dramatic manner, and we get more angst as Theo and James come to terms with this new relationship.  But for me, the ending was a bit rushed.  I felt like Theo had grown into herself when James was away into a strong, confident woman who grew to rise about the ton's nasty nickname of The Ugly Duchess.  She forgave James just a bit to easily for me and I would have liked a bit more groveling I guess.  I liked how Theo decides to re-enter a swan which brings in the bit of the fairy tale.  I'm not quite sure why Theo was considered ugly as I believe she just had strong features but I did enjoy how James always thought she was beautiful and he is able to make her realize that again even after all their years apart.  As for James, I had a hard time warming up to him in the second half but his life at sea changed him forever and I liked seeing those changes...I just wanted a bit more.  Overall, not my favorite Eloisa James but it still has her trademark wit, passion and beautiful writing.  3 1/2 stars

I received this eARC from Avon via edelweiss books.

Fairy Tales series
Can be read as standalones
A Kiss at Midnight (Fairy Tales, #1)Storming the CastleWhen Beauty Tamed the Beast (Fairy Tales, #2)Winning the Wallflower: A Novella (Fairy Tales, #2.5)The Duke Is Mine (Fairy Tales, #3)


  1. thanks for sharing.

  2. What an interesting review. "The Ugly Duchess" has been on my Wish List for some time now. After reading the "concerns" of the reviewer, I'm even more intrigued to see for myself if I agree or disagree. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes, this book seems to be falling into two camps...loved it and the 'huh?' category. I fell into the huh category this time with the ending. I enjoyed it for sure just needed a bit more. I'm sure you will enjoy it! :)