ARC Review: The Ugly Duchess by Eloise James

Filed in 3 1/2 Stars , Eloisa James , Review , The HEA Lover Posted on August 16, 2012 @ 3:00 pm 15 comments

Format read: E-ARC from Edelveiss
Release Date: August 28th 2012
Number of pages: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) , Author’s Website


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; it’s scandalized by their separation.

Now James faces the battle of his lifetime, convincing Theo that he loved 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—or War.

My Thoughts:

The Ugly Duchess is the 4th book  in Eloisa James’ Fairy Tales series.  I devoured the previous books and I just couldn’t wait to read this one. To be honest I’m torn. I loved half of the book and not so much the other half.  It just doesn’t make for an easy review. 😉

Theo is an awkward, gangly young woman (teen I should say). She is very thin and her profile is often compared to one of a man. For once I was very happy that the heroine wasn’t considered a beauty. It made for a more challenging love story.  When her childhood friend, James,  the future duke of Ashbrook asks for her hand, she wants to believe he loves her and always has.  When a book starts with a wedding, it can only mean one thing…things will not go well.

James stole my heart from the start. He’s the heir to the duchy but his father has lost everything.  The Duke has even started embezzling money from Theo’s inheritance. To avoid the scandal and save the family name there’s only one thing that can be done. James must marry Theo. It was seriously heartbreaking, because James do care for Theo and he feels very guilty for such a ruse. He wished their union hadn’t started on lies.  I love how passionate he becomes with Theo. He wants her and tries to shelter her when Society brand her The Ugly Duchess.  I was lulled into believing everything would go well, the passion and sparks between them promised a fantastic union. But of course everything goes to hell when Theo hears her Father-in-law  talk about the lies behind their union. Ughhhh my heart ached for James and Theo. When in a rage  Theo asks James to leave the country she never expected he would really leave.

We follow James on a journey to India but which quickly become his journey to becoming a pirate. It was both exciting and painful to see him change and become a completely different man. This was my favorite part of the book. I loved to see him struggle with his guilt, his despair and his hopes. It felt like a real adventure. What a man a becomes!

Here’s to the part I didn’t enjoy so much. Years later, Theo has also become someone else. And I admit I didn’t like much who she became. Theo was a young and naive woman, full of hopes and dreams. When James broke her heart she decided to be her own woman. She starts her own companies, she also embraces her form and she becomes a cold and detached  woman. I didn’t care much for her at that point.  I understand why she would become such a woman but it was harder to like her. There was also way too many references to swans and duckling . It made me dislike her even more that she now considered herself a ‘swan’.

When James and Theo finally reunite,  It just didn’t live up to my hopes. I was hoping for a real struggle and for James to have to slowly woo her back. Oh it was a struggle alright! But something didn’t work for me. Theo changed her mind too fast and too radically.

So as you can see I loved the 1st half of the book. The other half wasn’t bad but it just didn’t live up to the 1st part 😉 It was still a very nice story. I love James and his pirate transformation. I was rooting for him all along.  All being said, I still love Eloisa James’ style. Her books are very hard to put down, I was completely engrossed in the story.

I give The Ugly Duchess 3,5 Stars


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

About Caro The HEA Lover

Caroline is a HEA loving, yarn addicted French who's desperately hoping to get a HEA of her own. If she's not reading then she can be found knitting while listening to Audiobooks or watching Tv shows. Her secret addiction is reading websites that make fun at other people's expense (DYAC, Failbook)! Caroline also blogs at the Secret HEA Society with Susi.

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Join the Discussion
  • blodeuedd August 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Too bad the 2nd part wasn’t as good, still, I’d read it 🙂

    • pattepoilue August 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      It’s still worth it for the first part. And well I have a huge crush of the badass hero *g*

  • Stella August 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Thanks for the lovely and detailed review, now I know why you only gave it 3.5 stars and I’m curious to read it and see how it will fare with me 🙂

    • pattepoilue August 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      I was tempted to give it 4 stars because I devoured the book and it was hard to put down and well awesome hero! But I had too much trouble with the heroine. Still worth reading though *g* Hope you’ll like it

      • Stella August 17, 2012 at 5:25 am

        *sighs* I don’t like it when I don’t like the heroine 🙁

        • pattepoilue August 17, 2012 at 5:28 am

          I didn’t HATE her so don’t worry; Have you read the other books in the series? (book 2 rocked SOOOOOOOOOOO much)

          • Stella August 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm

            Sadly haven’t read that one. I only read Book 3 which was nice but not really memorable or phenomenal. Will have to read Book #2 then 😉

  • pattepoilue August 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    @Stella ohhhh indeed you must ! Loved it *g* looooved loved loved!

  • aurian August 18, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Nice review 🙂 I have some of her books, and even read her in Dutch many years ago. But for now, not calling my name. Though I really do like a strong heroine who can and will take care of herself.

    • pattepoilue August 18, 2012 at 9:35 am

      If there was only 1 books from her to recommend it would be When Beauty Tamed the Beast. Loved that one!

  • Sarah (The Brazen Bookworm) August 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    I’m in the exact same place. As I read the first half, I was convinced the book would be one of EJ’s best. And then…yeesh, I’m not even sure what to say. It really felt like two different books put together, with a too-quick conclusion. And I agree with your comment above – When Beauty Tamed the Beast is one of my all-time fav historical romances.

    • pattepoilue August 21, 2012 at 5:58 am

      It’s reassuring knowing I’m not the only one who felt it was 2 different books. It had a lot of potential, I really love love love the 1st half
      Yes Beauty was the best book *g*

  • eli yanti August 20, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    to be honested, not all from eloise’s books are great. so must selective in buying and reading her book 🙂

    • pattepoilue August 21, 2012 at 6:00 am

      One still has to try to find the great books *g*

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