The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

The Ugly DuchessSetting: Regency 1809-1816

*Book 4 in Eloisa’s Fairy Tales series*


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.

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I usually adore Eloisa’s novels–that clever and hilarious wit, the unpredictable and original storylines, but I have to say that among the so far brilliant Fairy Tale adaptions series, this one falls quite short and did not live up to expectations  and I was left quite confused about what happened here. The hero wasn’t as dashing as one usually expects and the plot just kind of fell… flat about halfway through.

Nothing wrong with the heroine-everyone loves a wallflower who has a core of hidden strength. And poor Theo has to put up with alot, not being the usual stunning, flawless heroine that’s as common as dances in these novels. We can all relate to her not being the model of perfection one normally reads about, but her personality makes up for it–she’s bold, funny and wonderfully caring, you can’t help but root for her! It’s just too bad James, our hero, really just wasn’t good enough for her. He up and disappears from her life for nearly seven years in the middle of the book and doesn’t even bother trying to win her love until the seven years is up!

We know from the start he was forced to marry her for her money and of course he ends up falling for her (in the space of just one day-REALLY?) and things are great until she realizes what she thinks he wanted from her. They predictably fight and she tells him to basically get the hell out of life. Which he does. For SEVEN whole years. And he becomes a pirate, of all things. I can’t help feeling the whole situation would have been solved in a minute if he only had the guts to tell her he loved her from the start! Or even just sent her a letter!

And when the core hinge on which the whole plot is based on is that flimsy, you really can’t find much to enjoy without suspending your belief that this went on for so long. Of course Eloisa’s signature witty style was there and even though the book was enjoyable to read in that alot of scenes were hilarious, it doesn’t quite make for the fact that the plot just kinda… well, disappointed. For a big chunk of time in the middle, the hero and heroine aren’t even on the same continent!

And when they finally do meet, so much for groveling. Won’t give away much but honestly, if it was that easy for him to be forgiven they should have done that 150+ pages ago!

I tried to like this book, I really did. Only thing that kept me reading was the writing. I would still recommend Eloisa James because the rest of this series was amazing! I appreciate the fact she tried to do something different but she could have found a better reason to separate them for so long.

Sensuality Rating: HOT! (Love scenes are long and explicit)

Verdict: Give this one a skip… unless you’re a diehard fan

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I read this novel and while it had some interesting parts, I felt it dragged in others. Quite frankly, I only finished the novel because it was by Eloisa James. I’m sure there are others who would like it better than I did. Everyone has different opinions. Bottom line is Eloisa James is a great author who has written many wonderful novels. This one just wasn’t my favorite.

    • Yes, that was why I got through it, otherwise I would have stopped halfway through!

  2. I wrote a review on Amazon about this book a few months ago about my disappointment with this book. Theo wasn’t really ugly–the whole thing about the ton making fun of her seemed contrived. What I disliked the most is that the hero and heroine were supposed to be such great friends growing up and they they both treated each other like dirt, never giving each other time to explain things. I expected more from Eloisa James because I had read “When Beauty Tamed the Beast,” and loved it.

    • Agreed! Thanks for reading my post! 🙂

  3. I am reading this series but it is rather hit and miss. I didn’t like “A Kiss at Midnight” but loved “When Beauty Tamed the Beast”. I have still to read “The Duke is Mine” and this one.

    • The Duke is Mine was wonderful! The heroine was just too lovable!

      • That’s really good to hear.

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