Thursday, January 24, 2013

CBR V Review #2 The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

** spoiler alert ** So I read a review of this on either Smart Bitches or Dear Author, I can't remember which. And to be honest the only reason I read it was because I had gotten the title mixed up with another book I had wanted to read.

The plot of the book is as follows. Theodora is the ward of the Duke of Ashford, her super bff is the Duke's son James. Theodora is "ugly" at least according to Regency English she's described as mannish several times in the book, but when you read the descriptions it's in that romance novel way where we know that she's actually attractive. The Duke has commanded his son to marry, and he want's him to marry Theodora because, surprise surprise, not only is his whole estate in massive debt but he's been skimming off of Theodora's dowry. Awkward to say the least. James is charged with seducing and then betraying his bff. Which he does (he does make his father to agree to sign over all financial responsibilities). But because he cares so much for her he sorta ends up falling in love with her and she cares about him a lot yada yada. Also they bone up a storm in the 24 hours afterwards. They're in the library and she actually starts giving him a BJ when his father walks in and she flees, hideously embarrassed. This scene was great though, for the drama. The Duke basically congratulates James on not only tricking her, getting her money, but that James' has won a first class slut. Poor Theo hears all this and throws both of them out of the house! James gets to keep a ship they own, and the Duke has to leave.

Over the next seven years Theodora runs the estate, earns a butt load of money and becomes the toast of post-Napoleonic Paris. While James . . . becomes a fucking pirate! You heard me pirate. (He gets a tattoo under his eye that I kept imagining as a teardrop) He comes back to England before they can declare him legally dead, wins back Theodora's heart and everything works out.

Let's see: Things I liked
I enjoyed Theodora, she's very resourceful.

I enjoyed young James as he's very sweet.

I loved the moniker theme throughout the book. You see after her wedding Theodora becomes know as "The Ugly Duchess" and she spends most of the book fighting that name. It's even supposed that her husband fled after two days of marriage because she was so ugly. We see the same with James, he becomes pirate captain "The Earl" while he's still being the old James, then he throws himself into pirate life and becomes "Jack Hawk" shaves his head, and gets the aforementioned tattoo. The old Duke is called the "Dam'fool Duke" cause he's an idiot. These society monikers are used throughout the book to call up different character aspects, how characters see themselves, how others see them and who they are at different times in their life. It's very interesting to use along with romance novel character study, and colors the actions of the characters.

I really enjoyed that this was really a sweet tale of childhood bffs who have to rekindle an old love. It's always nice to see equal footing.

The sex. James can really turn a phrase in the bedroom, but not in a way that I've read 10,000 times.

Things I didn't like:
His method for seducing her back. I got kind of bored and annoyed, but it seemed like they were just naked for no apparent reason for about 30 pages of action. He was trying to win her back, but they were about to take a bath? I just felt like the two characters had been set up really well, but the way they came together (heh heh) to get their HEA was just sloppy and could have been done better. The conclusion was satisfying all the right points were hit there, but the process where they came together wasn't well done.

The return scene. They're in the House of Lords about to declare him legally dead when he storms in like Tom Sawyer at his own funeral. It felt melodramatic.

All in all it was a pleasant afternoon read. I give it 3 out of 5 teardrop tattoos.

You can purchase the book here or at your friendly neighborhood indie bookstore

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