The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

The Ugly DuchessSetting: Regency 1809-1816

*Book 4 in Eloisa’s Fairy Tales series*

Summary:

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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Review:

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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The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

Setting: Regency 1812

*Book 3 in Eloisa’s Fairy Tales series*

Summary:

Tarquin, the powerful Duke of Sconce, knows perfectly well that the decorous and fashionably slender Georgiana Lytton will make him a proper duchess. So why can’t he stop thinking about her twin sister, the curvy, headstrong, and altogether unconventional Olivia? Not only is Olivia betrothed to another man, but their improper, albeit intoxicating, flirtation makes her unsuitability all the more clear. 

 Determined to make a perfect match, he methodically cuts Olivia from his thoughts, allowing logic and duty to triumph over passion…Until, in his darkest hour, Tarquin begins to question whether perfection has anything to do with love. 

 To win Olivia’s hand he would have to give up all the beliefs he holds most dear, and surrender heart, body and soul…

 Unless it’s already too late.

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Review:

Eloisa James gets better with every new book. This third entry in her Fairy Tales secrets is the best one yet-a very original adapted fairy tale full of drama, humor, passion and adventure.

I don’t know where to start with telling you how amazing this novel was. From the moment it began, I was so hooked. The writing was so funny and witty and the characters grab you with their exaggerated personalities. Olivia was a joy to read, with her bawdy comments and the naughty twinkle in her eye. Yet, she was so easy to relate to, as she isn’t perfect physically-at least not according to Regency standards. The perfect way to describe her would be a ‘juicy peach’ as her sister puts it. She struggles with confidence issues like all of us and that made her even more lovable.

As for Quin-he was an interesting hero as he was not perfect either-having an Aspergers-like problem of not being able to express emotion. I loved reading how these two ‘imperfect’ characters find each other and the novel had me sighing at how perfect they were together. They had such amazing chemistry!

The implementation of the whole Princess and the Pea thing was very cleverly done as well. To my mind, the original fairy tale is one that is very hard to adapt what with the stack of mattresses and the tiny pea the princess can feel through all of them-how to translate that to Regency England? I won’t spoil things for you, I will only say you will be pleasantly surprised by how well it is written in.

The plot itself was brilliantly done and so full of twists, I didn’t quite know where things were going next! It made me laugh, cry and stay up all night just finish it! Out of the three fairy tales, this novel did stray the furthest from the fairy tale it is based on, but the importance of the original moral is still preserved in this wonderful update. This book is an amazing achievement that pushes the boundaries of what can be done in romance and answers that all important question: “Is perfection really that important when it comes to love?”

I can’t wait to read Eloisa’s next! 😀

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

Verdict: Fresh, sexy and fun-A must read! 😀

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

Setting: Regency

*Book 1 in Eloisa’s Fairy Tales series*

Summary:

Miss Kate Daltry doesn’t believe in fairy tales… or happily ever after.

 Forced by her stepmother to attend a ball, Kate meets a prince… and decides he’s anything but charming. A clash of wits and wills ensues, but they both know their irresistible attraction will lead nowhere. For Gabriel is promised to another woman—a princess whose hand in marriage will fulfill his ruthless ambitions.

Gabriel likes his fiancé, which is a welcome turn of events, but he doesn’t love her. Obviously, he should be wooing his bride-to-be, not the witty, impoverished beauty who refuses to fawn over him.

Godmothers and glass slippers notwithstanding, this is one fairy tale in which destiny conspires to destroy any chance that Kate and Gabriel might have a happily ever after.

Unless a prince throws away everything that makes him noble…

Unless a dowry of an unruly heart trumps a fortune…

Unless one kiss at the stroke of midnight changes everything.

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Review:

Eloisa James is simply amazing. I guess I must have judged her too quickly after reading her novel Duchess by Night which was not her best work. This new series of fairy tales is so much more fulfilling, though they are using classic plot elements which have remained popular till now.

But Eloisa succeeds in making these classic stories fresh all over again by inserting some very clever twists and changing certain characters in unexpected ways. Take this book for example. Based on the classic Perrault tale Cinderella, it has for its heroine not your much beloved demure, mistreated, abused family member, but a woman who is a fiery, witty, sharp-tongued, sometimes  very insensitive woman despite her position in her stepmother’s household. The prince is also not as you expect, being not at all ‘charming’ and sometimes behaving in less than honourable ways. These characters were hard to like for me but they worked well as a couple and you could really feel their connection which one of the most important things in a romance. They weren’t perfect-but they were undeniably perfect for each other.

The plot was hilarious and I loved the side characters. Like in When Beauty Tamed the Beast, there were a whole cast of interesting, well thought out characters-the not-so-ugly stepsister and her self-conscious fiancé, and even the naughty ‘fairy’ godmother who was one of my favourites with her bawdy remarks to our heroine.

I also loved the historical edge to it as well, which added to the atmosphere. You can’t help but feel this really could have happen as there are so many facts thrown in. The writing was wonderful-beautiful, witty and humorous. I loved the dialogues and the sex scenes were pretty spicy 😉

The only downer for me was that the hero and the heroine weren’t very likable characters. Other than that, this is a funny, sexy update to a great classic story.

Sensuality Rating: Hot (Love scenes are long and explicit)

Verdict: Want to read a sexier version of Cinderella? Pick this up then! 😀

Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 stars

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

Setting: Regency

*Book 2 in Eloisa’s Fairy Tales series*

Summary:

Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty . . . Naturally, she’s betrothed to a Beast.

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman.

Linnet is not just any woman.

She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love—in just two weeks.

Yet Linnet has no idea of the danger posed to her own heart by a man who may never love her in return.

If she decides to be very wicked indeed . . . what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?

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Review:

“For who could ever learn to love a beast?”

We’re all familiar with the story of Beauty and her Beast and this update by romance veteran Eloisa James does an amazing job of creating a whole new original story that still has all the magic and the core lesson of the original fairy tale, which is things are always more than they appear. This was by far, the best romance I read this year-It was deliciously plotted, hilarious, sexy, deeply touching and downright magical!

Linnet and her Beast, Piers, are both people who are more than their labels-both are deeply intelligent and passionate people who completely deserve each other. Their romance is sweet, spicy, magnetic and will make you laugh, cry and sigh with satisfaction when you reach the end. You will fall in love! 😀 These two delightful characters are surrounded by a cast of well-crafted secondary characters-some hilarious, but all highly entertaining.

The story itself is so well-written and was one of the big strengths of this book. Despite knowing more or less the story of this book, we are given fresh scenes, hilarious scenarios and unpredictable twists. I just couldn’t put it down, it was so addictive! The conversations had to be one of my favorite parts of this book-though they were slightly modern in tone, they were all delightfully witty and some laugh-out-loud hilarious! There was no obvious magic in the book (no enchanted furniture) but there was the best kind of magic-that in the blossoming of love between the two lead characters. 😀

I thought this was an ingenious adaptation of a well-loved fairytale. So if you’re looking for a great, hilarious, witty, deeply touching, well plotted, R-rated fairytale, look no further. And if you’re not, well, pick this book up anyway cause trust me, it’s worth it! 😉

Sensuality Rating: Hot (Love scenes are long and explicit)

Verdict: Absolutely splendid!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Lady Most Likely by Julia Quinn, Connie Brockway and Eloisa James

Setting: Regency

Summary:

Hugh Dunne, the Earl of Briarly, needs a wife—so his sister hands him a list of the very best young ladies on the market. And then, because he refuses to tear himself away from the stables where he trains Arabian racehorses, she invites all those ladies to a house party, along with some other bachelors, of course. So who will Hugh choose? The Botticelli-esque, enchanting Gwendolyn? The outspoken, delightful Katherine? If he doesn’t work fast, he’ll lose those ladies to his closest friends, and then where will he look for a wife? Perhaps, just perhaps, toward a lady who’s not on a market at all, and would require a great deal of persuading…

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Review:

I adored this book! It was light, funny, touching and a true Regency romance! As a reader of previous anthologies, I was slightly cautious about touching this one. The thing is, it’s not really an anthology at all but a novel told in three parts by 3 authors and all connected to each other. A very unique idea and pulled off very well!

I loved the idea of a house party designed to find a suitable wife for the earl and I would love to be in this particular one! Everyone was delightful and nice and this is the kind of romance you’ll want to read if you’re feeling down cause it’s cheerful, charming and happy all the way through. There are no villains or any dark conflict-the only conflict is trying to find the earl a wife before they are all snatched! This is really three short romances in one book, naturally with Hugh’s story happening last.

The ‘guest list’ includes the shy but gorgeous Gwendolyn, the outspoken Katherine, the war hero Neill Oakes, the charming new Earl of Charters, the widow Lady Georgina, and of course the earl himself. The hostess is his sister who is a charming, witty and mischievous matchmaker. I really enjoyed every character in this novel, with my personal favourite being Gwen. I wished her story went on a little longer.

Though each author has their different style of writing, with Julia’s being the most distinctive, it still managed to work and not detract from the story. I felt the style of each author suited each story. My favourite was the first one and the last one. I felt the second one to be too predictable and wanted to race over it. The first story was cute and sweet, while the last one was deep and touching.

This book was over all cute and happy, and there were a lot of aww scenes. The sensuality in this book was slightly spicy which suited the mood. All in all, a very sweet and charming romance!

Sensuality Rating: Warm (Short and not explicit scenes)

Final Verdict: Warm, funny and sweet romance-perfect when you’re feeling down

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Duchess by Night by Eloisa James

Setting-1784, Georgian Period

Summary-

A Mischievous Charade . . .

Harriet, Duchess of Berrow, is tired of her title and the responsibilities that come along with it. Enough with proper tea parties and elegant balls; what Harriet really wants is to attend an outrageous soiree where she can unleash her wildest whims and desires. But to attend such an event—especially if the event in question is Lord Justinian Strange’s rollicking fete, filled with noble rogues and rotters, risqué ladies and illicit lovers—would be certain scandal. That’s why she must disguise herself . . .

Looking forward to a night of uninhibited pleasure, Lord Strange is shocked to discover that beneath the clothes of a no-good rake is the most beautiful woman in the room. Why is a woman like her risking her reputation at his notorious affair? And can he possibly entice her to stay . . . forever?

Review-

This book had a very interesting premise and it started off very well but I felt that somewhere along the middle the buzz just kind of died off. The ending was pretty good though but I think there could have been more romantic and sexual tension between the hero and heroine. It seemed that once Lord Strange discovered Harriet’s identity, everything else just kind of rushed on from there. It would have been better if there had been more tension between the two. A pretty good read but could have been better.

Sensuality-3/5

Plot Rating-3/5

Humor-3/5

Romance-4/5

Final Verdict-Worth a read

Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5

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