The Ugly Duchess is the fourth book in the Fairy Tales series by Eloisa James. As with the previous books in the series this one follows the romantic...more The Ugly Duchess is the fourth book in the Fairy Tales series by Eloisa James. As with the previous books in the series this one follows the romantic escapades between two people with a fairy tale twist - this one being The Ugly Duckling. I picked this up because I am knee deep in Gothic literature and I needed a quick distraction. This was a great read to throw into the mix.
Theodora is not beautiful, but she is striking in a handsome way. What she has going for her is a large inheritance. When longtime friend James Ryburn proposes to her Theo thinks her luck has finally turned, until she learns the truth after their wedding. James only married her because his father was embezzling money from Theo's inheritance to settle his exorbitant gambling debts. Theo's heart is crushed and she throws James out, vowing to fix the damage to her estate and never be reliant on a man again.
Years later Theo is a successful business woman and the talk of the town. Meanwhile, James has become a seafaring pirate desperate to escape his mistakes. She is waiting for the seven year anniversary of his disappearance to legally claim him dead. However, Theo is in for the biggest surprise of her life.
I enjoyed this one quite a lot. It's romance, so there are the expected tropes and trite situational dialogue to expect, but it was still a fun read. It was exactly what I needed at the time that I read it, and that's all you can ask for a book. I really enjoyed the characters - Theo was opinionated and feisty. James became very interesting as he grew up. It was a really good coming of age story for the both of them. The fairy tale element was minimal, but it did allow for some character development on Theo's part. It felt like a great comment on women and self esteem and complexes developed from feeling underwhelming in the looks department. The metaphor was very obvious, but well done. I won't pretend it's perfect. However, it was entertaining on a long car ride.
Well, that's the last of the Eloisa James Fairy Tales books. The Duke is Mine follows the tale of The Princess and the Pea... for the record, it's the...more
Well, that's the last of the Eloisa James Fairy Tales books. The Duke is Mine follows the tale of The Princess and the Pea... for the record, it's the loosest adaptation of a fairy tale retelling I have read. That said, much of the book is good.
Olivia Lytton is betrothed to the future Duke of Canterwick, Rupert. Rupert is not all there and his Father hopes that Olivia will be able to provide many sons. Olivia is a larger girl and that is what attracted the proposal in the first place - the possibility of children in the bargain. Meanwhile, Olivia's twin sister, Georgiana, has marital pursuits of her own. She must go to the Duke of Sconce estate to engage in a friendly test for his hand. Tarquin, called Quin, is an unemotional man. He is in complete control of his actions, but when it comes to his desires... well, all it takes is the introduction of the Lytton sisters to undermine him; specifically the Lytton sister which he is not supposed to be attracted to... Olivia. Quin is fascinated by her; her mind, her body, and her beauty. He thinks she's the most stunning woman he has ever met. This complicates everything.
Much of this book was pretty interesting and I was prepared to give it a four... and then the last 50 pages happened, and she lost me. There's a really weak "must do this" plot line that I felt did not work with the previous part of the book. That is also where James introduces the only element that hearkens back to the original fairy tale. To go that long and then finally put in the bit from Princess and the Pea feels tacked on. It feels like James said last minute "Oh yeah, I gotta make this book Princess and the Pea!" As a romance book without that element it would have been a more solid book. However, trying to add it last minute is not a good idea. It needed more up front to make it work.
I did love that Olivia wasn't your standard cookie cutter heroine. She tells bawdy jokes, she's a bigger girl and though she has her issues about it she owns it in the end. I also like that James did not have her gorging on food throughout the whole book to further the point of her weight. She simply was bigger and that's ok. He liked her for it... and there needs to be more books with this idea in mind. That big girls need love too.
Robin LaFevers has written a very cool book. Grave Mercy is the start of a new young adult trilogy set in 15th century Brittany... that's in France fo...more
Robin LaFevers has written a very cool book. Grave Mercy is the start of a new young adult trilogy set in 15th century Brittany... that's in France for those of us (myself included) who do not remember our late Middle Ages/Northern Renaissance History. It follows young Ismae as she escapes the shackles of an arranged marriage and finds purpose for herself... as an assassin in the service of God.
Ismae is a chosen of the God of Death, Mortain. Training in a convent with other women like her Ismae hones the skills of her trade, becoming intimate with different weapons, poisons, and, most importantly, politics. When she is assigned to a young man who is the bastard half brother of Anne of Brittany Ismae's journey takes her into the heart of the royal court where intrigue knows no limits... and danger lurks behind every door.
Ismae is a great character. She struggles with a lot during the course of this book and overcomes many of the trappings of her time. This book is also a fascinating look at many of the things going on during this period of European History; the fervor of Christianity verses the downfall of Pagan beliefs as well as the place of women in society (and as monarchs) being two of the most notable. The historic aspect of this book is rich and detailed. The plot between Ismae and her potential love interest was also consuming.
Unfortunately for much of the book the plot focuses on these things and doesn't give enough time on Ismae as a harbinger of death... which I very much loved. My biggest gripe with this book is really that I wanted to see her practicing her art more throughout the book. For a book with an assassin as a main character I felt she didn't kill enough to suit my bloodthirsty taste. There was a lot of sitting and waiting... and waiting... and drama building...and more waiting. It set my teeth on edge in a bad way. I felt that the flavour of this book could have used a bit more spice.
That said, it's a damned decent read and worth wading through the occasional morass moments. I dug the hell out of this idea. I hope that the next book proves just as promising.