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The Ugly Duchess (Fairy Tales #4)

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,359 Ratings  ·  892 Reviews
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
Mass Market Paperback, 334 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Avon (first published January 1st 2012)
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195th out of 2,454 books — 15,879 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 28, 2012 Sneha rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish

The Ugly Duchess is yet another wonderful story in Eloisa James’ Fairy Tales series. In all that it is charming, romantic, witty and sweetly sexy, it’s also heartwarming, poignant and a truly beautiful love story.
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 her
Elis Madison
James Ryburn, Earl of Islay, is informed by his father (a duke) that he has to marry Theodora Saxby, his best friend since they were children. Long ago, Theo's dying father asked the duke to look after Theo and her mother, and she and James have been like siblings ever since.

Seems the duke has the IQ of a radish, and he blew through the entire wealth of the duchy, then embezzled as much of Theo's inheritance as he could lay his hands on. If James isn't the man who marries her, not only will the
Jul 27, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it

Theodora Saxby is not beautiful. But she does possess a fortune. James Ryburn, Earl of Islay, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook is handsome. And in need of a fortune. When James is told by his father that he has gambled away the family's wealth, embezzled from Theo's fortune and that James must marry Theo for her money, James is adamantly against the idea. Afterall, he and Theo have grown up together. He loves her certainly, but in a brotherly fashion.

When Theo finds out that James was forced to ma
Rating: 2.7 stars

The misconception I had when I'd just been one chapter into this book: 5 stars. I know I'm going to give this 5 stars!

*exhales loudly*

This review can also be read on-
The Dark, Delicious and Dreamtastic.

When I started this book- when I was still on the 'Before' part- out of nowhere I had this thought that startled me into stopping, and then smiling for no reason, before I resumed back to reading.


This is my first book by EJ, but I'm intrigued and will be definitely checking out her other work. Of course this follows HCA's 'The Ugly Duckling'. Theodora ( Theo, as she liked to be called and Daisy, as James liked to call her ), was seen as an unattractive woman or at least according to society's standards of that time. Growing up with James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, Theo learned to accept her lot in life but never let it truly get to her.
But marrying her best friend Ja
Aug 29, 2012 Katyana rated it did not like it
Well, this one was a swing and a miss for me, which is a shame, because Eloisa James is usually a ton of fun.

To be fair, second-chance romances are always hard for me to get behind. I have to see some serious change in the characters in order to really buy that it would work out... otherwise, it just feels like they're signing up to be hurt all over again down the road, never having learned their lesson. They're like addicts deciding to try the pipe one last time.

I liked Theo/Daisy a lot. I like
Jess the Romanceaholic
This book broke my heart, in more ways than one.

I wanted, so badly, to love it. In fact, up until a certain part, I was certain I'd be rating it 4.5-5 stars!

Unfortunately, there's so much infidelity that I just couldn't get past it. Yes, he had pretty excuses, but... *queasy*

I LOVED Daisy/Theo. Loved her. And in some ways, I loved James as well. The betrayal early on was absolutely delicious, and up until the point where he dipped his wick in some foreign widow, I was hooked! But the very blat
Dec 09, 2015 Alexa rated it did not like it
DNF @ 50%? 40%? Not sure, I'll check it later.

I should have read the reviews before starting this one... in my defense, I was picking between lots of historical romance books and the fairy tale name plus the blurb made me think I'd like this one.


What the blurb doesn't tell you (and I am not even bothering with spoiler tags here because I want everyone to know how bad this is!) is that our dashing James is gone for seven years. SEVEN YEARS! During which he conveniently forgets about
Duchess Nicole
Buddy read with Karen BookLover 12/16/12

I love Eloisa James, so my opinion may be biased. She's never over the top, and she unapologetically adds content that may or may not be realistic for her preferred Regency time period. But she sure does make me laugh with it! She's never too sexual, but she does write very sensual scenes. For me, she just really writes great ROMANCE stories. Her characters are flawed, they make stupid, stupid, STUPID decisions (James, I'm looking at you), but they are jus
Despite having read many historical romances, Eloisa James was an author I had avoided because none of her synopses appealed to me. This one, though, was one I'd been dallying over for some time and finally decided to give it a read.

The Before part of this novel was wonderful. I wanted to yank James out of the first scene and stop him from doing something dumb, and I felt bad for Theo. I liked them both individually and I loved them together because of how well they played off one another.

I was
10+++ STARS!

The Ugly Duchess is my first from Eloisa James and definitely not the last. I'm gonna do a lot of historical reading this month and the following months. A marathon oF EJ' HR book!!!

From the first sentence until the last of the very love epilogue I'm still hooked with Daisy & James. You'll feel that your on Daisy shoes while reading. You'll feel her insecurities, naivety, passion, & love to her best friend who became her husband for two days. The confrontation part is totall
Aug 31, 2012 Kate rated it it was ok
I find myself torn on Eloisa James's books. On the one hand, she writes engaging characters and the stories of her romances are always enjoyable. For me, her biggest weakness comes when it's time to get down to the plot. That, again, was my biggest issue in The Ugly Duchess, which felt like two different books to me. I very much enjoyed the first 60 or so pages with two best friends who are young sort of falling into a marriage. I even enjoyed the fallout that resulted. But then...piracy. I shou ...more
Jen (Red Hot Books)
Aug 23, 2012 Jen (Red Hot Books) rated it it was ok
This book pushed my buttons in a bad way. I know many people enjoyed it. Most were able to get over the things that got stuck in my craw. But it did not work for me at all.

I had problems from the very beginning. James and Theodora grew up together. Theo had been taken in as ward of James' father. They were essentially raised as siblings. Unfortunately, Daddy Dearest lost all of his money in bad investments and some of Theo's dowry too. If anyone were to find out, he could go to prison. So he for
Sha Mslvoe ♥♥♥
Sep 08, 2012 Sha Mslvoe ♥♥♥ rated it it was amazing
Eloisa James latest debut is a well worth a read. She writes a good romance and this one's no exception. I truly enjoyed this book and I didn't mind the cheating as he thought the marriage was over during they separated. And he always thought his wife didn't want him back.

I forgive all the 7 years they been separated. I forgive James for walked away after she found out her husband married her for her dowry, after she throw him out. I forgive everythings coz I love James and Theo @ Daisy.

4.00 Stars - Historical/Regency Romance

James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook and Theodora Saxby grew up together in the same house, Theo being the ward of the current Duke. All this time, they pretended to be not much but siblings. When James turned 20, he became one of the most handsome eligible bachelors in the peerage and so forth in the ton. But at the same time 17 year Theo was so plain, that many regarded her as simply mannish and downright ugly.

One day the duke revealed his dire fi
Feb 24, 2014 Ririn rated it it was ok
Disappointed. I found myself disliking both the hero and the heroin. To say they are immature is an understatement. At the beginning, well, can put the immaturity due to their young age (the hero was 19 and the heroin was 17 when they got married), but 7 years after that? After all the suppposedly adventures and all that they have to go through? Both of them are still the same people, same characters. The only change that I can detect was their appearance. And I cannot feel the love that should ...more
Shelly Bell
Aug 08, 2012 Shelly Bell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I started crying right at the beginning because when the hero and heroine start off happy, you know something will break them apart. But I was shocked (in a good way) at where the authors took the characters and I loved every minute of this book. James was sensitive and loving at the start and not the traditional hero for a historical romance. I fell in love with him then and there and when he transformed into an alpha male, it was even better. Theo is always beautiful, but it’s when she truly b ...more
Katrina Passick Lumsden
I wasn't terribly impressed with this book. Theodora and James marry young so their impulsiveness can be chalked up to simple immaturity, but I didn't understand these two. If they were best friends, why didn't James just tell Theodora what his father was trying to make him do? And I'm sorry, but seven years? Seven years? That's the longest sulk I've ever heard of.

I couldn't like these two if you paid me to. On top of irritating characters, there was a distinct overabundance of smarm. The sex s
Brittany B.
I was going to read this, but I'm having a hard time,considering the reviews. Infidelity and estrangement aren't my thing. I'm having a hard enough time finishing Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas, and I knew the premise before going in...

I am surprised Eloisa James has written such a storyline... It's just not for me at the moment.
There isn't one thing I didn't love about this book. Which isn't to say that I didn't wish some things were different, (view spoiler). It's sad t ...more
I'm a massive fan of Eloisa James's Happily Ever Afters series, I have enjoyed all of the previous books and novellas so couldn't wait to get started on The Ugly Duchess. Unfortunately I was really disappointed with this book, it just didn't meet up with the standards of the earlier stories and I think that is mainly because I have such an issue with people who cheat on their partners. I'm afraid that this review will contain spoilers because I don't think I can fully explain my issues with the ...more
Jul 17, 2012 Lisarenee rated it really liked it
Notes: I read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of the book.

Once upon a time there was a young heiress and young Earl who were best friends. They could tell the other anything and everything. Their parents had been best friends, as well, and when Theo's father passed, James' father took Theo and her mother in. They were raised as brother and sister living under the same roof. Then one day James' father, the Duke of Ashbrook, did something that would change everything....

“You’ll have to marry her. I
Apr 07, 2016 Lorena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the overall story but I felt it a bit hastily written. Certain parts of the book were rather hurriedly resolved, and I think that it could have been expanded on more and the main characters’ initial relationship should have been more in depth.

The story takes place over several years, which is usually pretty hard to write, because you have to fit a lot of character development into the book, so at times that made the story go along almost too fast and left things out. I didn't really g
Oct 27, 2012 Felicia rated it liked it
Usually I love Eloisa James, but this one didn't really do it for me. Didn't love the protagonist, and there was weird pacing stuff happening, like 5 years going by and then 100 pages of things that were continuous at the end...I'm not sure. Love the author but this one just wasn't my fave!
May 27, 2013 Dawn rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I enjoy fantasy books but there are a few things that are just a turn off and this book is a classic example.

James and Theo have grown up together and are very close. Sadly Theo's dad is an idiot; he has lost all of his money as well as part of Theo's dowry and now he is in danger of going to prison. So James's dad wants James to marry Theo and pretend to be in love this way they can be saved from financial ruin. Meanwhile James who "cares" for Theo and is allegedly really good friends follows t
I'm not quite sure what to make of this book. I picked it up after I'd read a book which had disappointed me and was immediately captivated. Theo/Daisy and James were such engaging characters and although their progression from faux brother and sister to a pair of horny love-birds may have bit a bit quick, I thought it worked given that they're very young (she's seventeen, he's nineteen) and that their discovery that they fancied each other was so fast as to be a novelty.

Daisy's anger and sense
Suzanne (Under the Covers Book blog)
3.5 Stars

Theodora Saxby and James Ryburn, Earl of Islay and next in line for a Dukedom are the match of the season, no one expected the ugly and mannish Theo to bring the handsome James up to scratch, with such a romantic proposal, not even Theo. But she falls in love and they marry...only to be separated two days later when she throws him out after discovering that James, her oldest friend and the man she loves only married her for her dowry.

I find myself a little uncertain if how to rate this
Aug 05, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
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 toget ...more
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Mar 06, 2015 10:11AM  
  • Surrender A Dream
  • Rough Wrangler, Tender Kisses
  • A Perfect Groom (Sterling trilogy, #2)
  • Ravishing the Heiress (Fitzhugh Trilogy, #2)
  • Lord of Temptation (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2)
  • The Lady Most Willing... (Lady Most..., #2)
  • Taken by Desire
  • Bride for a Night
  • A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove, #3)
  • A Highlander Never Surrenders (MacGregors, #2)
  • A Necessary Husband (Necessary, #1)
  • A Gentleman Undone (Blackshear Family, #2)
  • The Education of Mrs. Brimley (Chambers Trilogy, #1)
  • A Notorious Countess Confesses (Pennyroyal Green, #7)
  • A Kiss For Midwinter (Brothers Sinister, #1.5)
  • The Bride's Necklace (Necklace Trilogy, #1)
  • Because You're Mine (Capital Theatre, #2)
  • Thief of Hearts
New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa's very first book that she "found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; later People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Her novels have repeat ...more
More about Eloisa James...

Other Books in the Series

Fairy Tales (5 books)
  • A Kiss at Midnight (Fairy Tales, #1)
  • When Beauty Tamed the Beast (Fairy Tales, #2)
  • The Duke Is Mine (Fairy Tales, #3)
  • Once Upon a Tower (Fairy Tales, #5)

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“My duchess,” James stated, his eyes sweeping the crowd with the air of a man who has ruled the waves. “She is not a swan, because that would imply she had once been an ugly duckling.” 17 likes
“He wanted to grow old with her, or not grow old at all.” 16 likes
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