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Once a Duchess (Once A... #1)

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  832 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
Isabelle Lockwood was a duchess, until her husband of only a few months wrongfully divorced her for adultery. Since then she’s been a pariah, living in anonymous exile to escape the prying eyes and wagging tongues of the ton. More than anything, Isabelle longs for a family of her own, and so has to marry again. But society is ruthlessly unforgiving. To clear her name, Isab ...more
ebook, 168 pages
Published October 15th 2012 by Crimson Romance
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,319)
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A young woman is left destitute when her husband divorces her based on the lies of his mother. Her brother, in a fit of anger, stops her allowance.

This made for an interesting read, but I never warmed up to it. The heroes sins were truly unforgivable (in most other books he have would been the villain). The brother was a sorry excuse for a man. The mother-in-law and siblings were self-absorbed, callous, human beings.

The heroine should have run for the hills and found herself a decent man. Thoug
Really liked this one. Strong female characters (characters, plural!), smooth writing, three-dimensional villains.

The first villain is the dowager Duchess of Monthwaite, who never really liked her daughter-in-law Isabelle, so three years ago she Iago'ed it up and told her son that Isabelle was cheating on him. Marshall divorced Isabelle, who was promptly cast out of society, and she eventually had to get a job as a cook in an inn. At the beginning of this book, Marshall and Isabelle run into eac
Dec 11, 2012 preppea rated it it was amazing
Fans of Pride and Prejudice will devour this historical romance that does an amazing job of combining realistic actions/reactions for that era with a modern description of the intimate moments between the characters.

Isabelle Lockwood is a spirited, opinionated and talented woman who grew up without the guidance of a mother to explain what boundaries had to be maintained in a male/female friendship to maintain proper decorum. Though perfectly innocent, her relationship with a childhood friend lea
Amanda "Freckles"
Sep 11, 2012 Amanda "Freckles" rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Truong
Dec 07, 2012 Steven Truong rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and heart-wrenching, a tear-jerker for the heart and soul.
In her debut novel Elizabth Boyce blends the standards of 19th century romance blended with her creativity and ingenuity. The theme of divorced couple is rare in Historical romance, Boyce created a high standard for the sub category for the romance genre. Her heroine Isabella is strong willed and great pride befitting of being Duchess, in the face of adversity and social isolation, she strives with head held and a broken heart t
C. Clark
Nov 01, 2012 C. Clark rated it it was amazing
I'll read anything by Elizabeth Boyce after Once a Dutchess, which is not a remark I make lightly. The writing is alive, intelligent, historically accurate, visual and oh so sensual. The effort Boyce puts into making her writing effortless is apparent, and though my genre of preference is mystery, this is a romance author I intend to follow. She paints worlds I can get lost in, using seamless phrasing and characters that you hear once you've closed the book. Congrats on your debut, Ms. Boyce, an ...more
Sep 07, 2012 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Let me start by saying I don't normally read romance books. I was a bit skeptical, but dove in. Wow! I couldn't put it down. The story was fast-paced, flirty, and had tons of ups and downs. I loved the strong female characters, not something I picture when I think of a romance novel. The characters were interesting and I found myself really caring about what happened to them. All in all, a super fun quick read!
Roanne Araneta
Dec 16, 2012 Roanne Araneta rated it did not like it


/drags down everything/
Oct 16, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Think you aren't a romance type? Think again! This is a Regency romance in the tradition of Austen; it satisfied even this demanding "literary" reader and left me wanting more.

It is such a pleasure to find those gems of historical romance that not only weave a story of love and lust that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but do so with exacting historical detail, brilliant wordsmithing, and thoughtful consideration of the complexities of life for men and women at the time. Elizabeth Boyce has
Sep 11, 2012 Pip rated it really liked it
I literally devoured this book. Every spare minute I had went into reading it because I just couldn't put it down. From the very first page you are pulled into the grasp of the book, never to be let go till the very end. The detail in the book is exquisite, making me feel like I was in there with the characters. I'm a person that gets bored very easily with books but I was delighted to finally read a book that I just couldn't read fast enough because I wanted to know what was going to happen nex ...more
Sep 08, 2012 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
This was a can't-put-down kind of read. I love the heroine - who wouldn't? - and rode the ups and downs with her through the course of the story. Of course, liking her doesn't mean that I always agreed with her, and at times I was a little irritated with her... but that just made it a bit more interesting, knowing that she wasn't behaving exactly as I would. Or maybe she was??
If you are fond of weak, easily-deluded heroes who make you want to take an anvil to their head and equally weak, easily forgiving heroines who are misty-eyed instead of angry when said hero ruins their life, this is the book for you.

If you like a couple whose combined powers of perception, deduction, and general reasoning equal to that of a not particularly bright three-year-old and who can be confounded by a villain who has the cunning of a rather small shrub, this is the book for you.

If you
Shirley Buchanan
Jun 08, 2013 Shirley Buchanan rated it it was amazing
Society can tolerate many things, but divorce is not one of them. Wrongly accused, divorced and disgraced, Isabelle Fairfax Lockwood has changed her name,retired to the country, and is trying to live a nondescript life. Depending entirely on the allowances her brother sends her, she is astounded when he cuts her off.

Relying on her only saleable skill, Isabell becomes the cook at a neighboring inn. After a burn accident to the nightly server, she is pressed into that role as well. Unfortunely, th
Purple Iris
Sep 13, 2012 Purple Iris rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance
I really, really enjoyed this. I am a romance junkie, but historical is usually not my thing. The heroines always seem too sappy and weak. But now I'm thinking maybe I've just been reading the wrong kind of historical romance, because this was great. I loved all the details about the era, the contradictions and tensions between the different groups of people. It all seemed very real and not just background noise for a love story. My favorite characters were Isabelle and Naomi. I could have done ...more
Sep 11, 2012 Clair rated it it was amazing
While romance novels are not usually what I choose to read, I'm a sucker for character driven stories. And Once a Duchess was exactly that! I loved all the strong women in this book! The heroine, Isabelle, was such a lush character, full of strength and charm.

I also really enjoyed the writing in this book. Boyce's words are so artfully chosen. Meaning and descriptions are perfectly conveyed and amplified through the author's lovely writing.

This was a pleasure to read and I devoured the entire b
Monica Tillery
Mar 22, 2013 Monica Tillery rated it it was amazing
I always forget that I love historical romance until I pick one up! Once a Duchess is a beautifully crafted, unique story that I had a hard time putting down. I particularly enjoyed the author's ability to craft a hero who seemed despicable and irredeemable...and then turn it around so the heroine could love him without being a wimp. Elizabeth Boyce has a place on my auto-buy list from now on!
This one did not work for me. I prefer to read historical romances that are somewhat authentic. For example, if the context is regency England then the manners, customs, forms of address should be accurate. It seems to be a trend to put almost modern characters, thinking and speech in "historical" stories these days. 1.5 stars.
T.L. Haddix
No star rating. It was.... fluff. Sometimes you need to read fluff. I personally think the heroine should have just given the hero a big ol' flip off of the bird and walked away at the end with the dough, but that would hardly make it a romance now would it?

It was an interesting premise, not a bad book, but not one I'd go to with the intention of re-reading. Too cliched, and the Duke got off way too lightly for what he did. For my friends who require a lot of logical decisions and adult reactio
Heather Smith
Sep 09, 2012 Heather Smith rated it it was amazing
I loved it! I am looking forward to many, many more works by the brilliant Elizabeth Boyce!
Jonel Boyko
Jun 12, 2015 Jonel Boyko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Boyce’s well written, well edited novel takes centre stage with a great deal of style. She kept me captivated throughout, transporting me back in time. The story and setting was so intricately developed that the world around me dropped away, and I was left firmly in 19th century London ton.

The characters in this novel were remarkable. I thoroughly enjoyed how Boyce delves into the lives of the main characters, both in the past and the present. The in-depth character development allows the reade
Nov 24, 2012 Teresa rated it it was amazing
In "Once a Duchess," Elizabeth Boyce mixes the contradictions that make the best historical fiction: intensity of emotion, lightness of heart, depth of research, and FUN.

Her heroine Isabelle is as clever and courageous as any Amanda Quick bluestocking, but her heart is more raw and real.

Boyce is smart enough to write smart prose that flows smartly. Her voice is mannered, but never stuffy... nor precious, although she does - sparingly! - sprinkle in some sweet wordplay to tease an extra smile or
3 1/2 stars
It's a "getting back together" plot. Stories like this is nothing new in regency romance, but somehow I find myself drawn to the writing. The dialogues felt too modern at times, but still okay. It's well-paced and of proper length too for this kind of story.

I like how the writer tries to portray characters as 3-dimensional: they have hobbies, passion (other than passion for THAT), and none without fault. I like how Marshall did not tumble to life of libertine after the divorce, but pu
Jul 07, 2013 Aishwarya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genteel

The reason this book deserves every bit of applause it gets: Isabelle's firm stance when Marshall apologized.

She didn't fall into his arms, the minute he apologized. There was no immediate exchange of confessions. Isabelle was strong, Isabelle was amazing and she earned everyone's eternal worship.

The reason I didn't give it more than 3 stars: It could have been more.

The story wasn't fleshed out well enough and neither were the characters.

Marshall... I was never really able to feel him as a chara
Lady Beulac
Dec 12, 2012 Lady Beulac rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Newbies to romance; otherwise...hopeless romantics?
Recommended to Lady Beulac by: the misleading 4 star rating
This book...ohhhhh, why?
I was looking forward to reading this exceptionally well rated piece of literature and, my, did it disappoint me. I mean, when do you get something so original-a divorceé duchess and a duke that's crazy about botany but still manages to be sexy-and it ends up so ridiculously clichéd....

This is just crazy killing me. I guess I was expecting to much of novice Elizabeth Boyce, but having an average rating of 4.33, well, that's just not plausible to me. The writing is nice,
Jennifer Milan
If only we women today could have the forgiving and patient heart of Isabelle, the heroine of this story.

Wrongfully accused of infidelity by her mother in law, and divorced by her husband (coward didn't even let her explain but took his mother's side instantly), she makes her way in the world all on her own, without letting bitterness or pride hold her back. Taking a position as a cook in an inn, she unexpectedly runs into her ex on one of his travels while he stays at the inn. Appalled that hi
Apr 03, 2013 Mahala rated it it was amazing

Couldn't put down this book! It didn't seem like a "romance novel" but a great piece of historical fiction. The writing is superb. Within the first pages, you can immediately visualize the characters and settings. I especially enjoyed the strong female characters and the witty male lead. I always enjoy reading novels with historical settings because you learn so much while also being entertained. With settings a little bit Pride and Prejudice and female characters that were a little bit Gone Wit
Michelle Quintana
A love story that is not a typical love story. Set during the early 1800's, shows what happens when a woman is divorced, especially one from nobility. Isabelle marries Marshall at the age of 18 and becomes his duchess when his father passes away. A few months into their marriage, Isabelle is accused by her mother-in-law of having having an affair with her best friend Justin. Marshall never really listens to Isabelle and has a public divorce, destroying Isabelle's reputation. Isabelle is forced t ...more
Kristine Maite Suarez
one of the best historical romance i have ever read!i love everything about this marshall and isabelle still long for each other even after that wrongful divorce; how marshall defended isabelle from the debasement she received from her supposed to be suitor; how isabelle saved the life of marshall and naomi;and so many presents a view of things during those times when divorce is a rare event and the haughty ton looks down severely at the guilty party..definitely a must-read.
Sep 15, 2014 Trea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenges-2014
This book was pleasant, but nothing spectacular. I disagreed with how sensual the book was for the time period, as it would have translated better as a contemporary novel, rather than a historical one. I did like how strong willed Isabelle was and how Marshall actually had to work at both forgiving himself and those he had wronged. I was left wishing there was more to this book. I'll likely read the others, but will have a better idea of where they stand for the future.
Jan 07, 2014 Amy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This may be the worst book I've ever opened. I bought it, on impulse, knowing it might be a mistake. Oh, it was. There is nothing redeemable in the entire volume. Trite plotting, bad writing (including writing that doesn't match the period), characters who are inconsistent, unbelievable and boring. I cannot think of a single kind remark to make. Anyone encouraging this woman to write should have to return their college diplomas.
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