Elis Madison's Reviews > The Ugly Duchess

The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James
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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 estates fail, but the duke's crimes will be exposed and the family name and titles will be blackened beyond redemption.

James has two problems with this. First, the idea of boinking his Daisy (that's what he calls her) feels a bit incestuous. And second, well, he is attracted to her (in a creepy older brother sorta way), but she's kinda ugly. From Theo's own perspective, we're told that she looks like a boy. A boy whose mother unfortunately insists on dressing her in pastel frills and pearls. Reading her self- description, I envisioned this:



Anyway, James gets drunk and slobbers all over her at a ball and gets caught in the act. The betrothal is announced and before you know it she gets the appellation "The Ugly Duchess." While the kiss that got them in this fix was nice, the wedding night was kind of



To be fair, James (the hero) was only 20 years old and probably too stupid inexperienced to make the bridal night pleasant (or at least less unpleasant) for Theo. But they get past it, and even start to discover



…at least until James's dad strolls in to find Theo's head in James' lap. A flustered Theo excuses herself but stays just outside the door to eavesdrop as the plonker duke congratulates James for going through with "the plan." And yes, even tho both parties to the conversation know what "plan" he refers to, the duke does lay it all out again in excruciating detail. By wedding the "ugly duchess," James has A) protected his father's misuse of Theo's funds, B) gained access to Theo's entire inheritance, and the added bonus is C) the ugly girl is so grateful that she'll freely provide the "special attention" most gentlemen must pay whores for. As long as the lights are out, who cares what she looks like?

That moment changes everything.

Theo's all



And she tells James (the hero) and his dad to



So everybody goes their separate ways to reinvent themselves.

James reinvents himself as a


Theo sulks awhile, but eventually reinvents herself as a


Turns out that she actually looks more like

(her, not him)

Meanwhile the duke reinvents himself as a


Just when I thought I'd be stuck reading 300+ pages of "loves-me-loves-me-not" angst, James serves up a little side order of



And hey, since his wife told him to go eff himself, he might as well



James, unfortunately, doesn't gain any brain cells while he's away playing pirate and man-candy, so when he decides it's time to sort things out with his Daisy there was a time or two I wanted to tell him to



But the denouement is sweet and pleasing, and the story as a whole was satisfying (a couple tears, and some decent grins). This one gets three stars.

My rating system:

One star-- Blows (skip it)
Two stars--Didn't stink (if it sounds interesting, buy it used)
Three stars--Liked it (recommended—pick it up next time you're looking for a good read)
Four stars--Loved it (make a special trip)
Five stars--Grrrrrowr! (Nuff said)
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Reading Progress

09/03/2012 ""It's just a bosom, James."

"

Comments (showing 1-26 of 26) (26 new)

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Jill Lol! You do the best reviews, Elis! I liked this one a little more than you but agree with you on your review.


message 2: by Karla (new)

Karla So does the h beat herself up on how repulsively disgustingly bucket of mudworms ugly she is to gain reader sympathy? That shit drives me nuts!


Keri Elis, seriously funny review! I rated it a bit higher, but you covered all the points of the book well. Love the pictures!

Karla Daisy doesn't beat herself up, IMO, in her own mind she has always considered herself to be stylish and once she gets to pick her own clothes, she is. I never thought her "ugly" I just felt she wasn't English blond pretty.


message 4: by Karla (new)

Karla That's sounds more digestible than the usual. That moron Callie in Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake worked my last nerve with her "Alas, I'm an ugly fat water buffalo" routine.


Elis Madison I guess I must be a tough rater. LOL. Assuming that ANYTHING that finds its way into a big-house publisher's catalog is top-notch, that means the curve is pretty high to start with. 3 stars, in that context, is like a solid B in a Harvard class. So I definitely liked the book. A lot. 5 stars are the ones that totally blissed me out--not many that I feel that strongly about, and 4 stars is for books that fall somewhere in between.

Anyway, no I don't think the heroine veers into self-pity. Well, a little when she finds out about "the plan." James is the one who goes off to eat worms--for quite a long time.

I had only read one of EJ's books before. Any others of hers you'd highly recommend?


message 6: by Karla (new)

Karla I'm leery abt reading any EJ after that Beauty and the Beast one, a DNF because the first 50 pages were a bunch of wordy nothing. I have no idea if that's just her schtick or what.


Keri I love everything she writes and a bit of a fangurl, so I am not really the one to ask. But some of her standouts for me were A Duke of Her Own(I love bad boy Villiars.) This Duchess of Mine and An Affair Before Christmas (The bath scene was delicious.)


Elis Madison Thanks! Next time I go book-hunting...


Elis Madison OK! Just added a half star because... well, here comes another 3 star review, and this one shouldn't be in quite the same class...


Steamywindows♥♫ Oh I loved your review Elis! ...actually snorted at you humorous pics. I really had a reservation about this one but love EJ. Villiers most certainly tops the EJ hero list for me and he was a bit of a wanker. Great review...SW


message 11: by Elis (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elis Madison Steamywindows♥♫ wrote: "Oh I loved your review Elis! ...actually snorted at you humorous pics. I really had a reservation about this one but love EJ. Villiers most certainly tops the EJ hero list for me and he was a bit..."

Thanks! It's a good read. Definitely pick it up next time you see it.


Mandy I LOVE Eloisa James' novels. Haven't read the Beauty and the Beast one, but these fairytale ones don't actually seem to follow her usual style. Read the duchess ones; they are lovely. :-)


Mandy If I was going to recommend a few of her top, I'd say "The Taming of the Duke", "Enchanting Pleasures", and really, the entire "Desperate Duchess" series. Yes, the Duke of Villiers is also my favorite. Anyway, I guarantee if you read all of those, you will want to read all the rest. :-)


message 14: by Elis (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elis Madison Thanks for the tip, Mandy! Now I know what to look for my next big book buy!


message 15: by Alethia (new)

Alethia Moua This was awesome! Totally had similar thoughts while reading this book too!


message 16: by Elis (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elis Madison Alethia wrote: "This was awesome! Totally had similar thoughts while reading this book too!"

Thanks!


Viohlet OMG This review was awesome. Tears in my eyes from laughing so much.


message 18: by Elis (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elis Madison Nymphetamosa wrote: "OMG This review was awesome. Tears in my eyes from laughing so much."

Thank you!! It was a fun read!


message 19: by Elis (last edited Oct 21, 2012 12:48PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elis Madison YIKES! I'm really glad I hadn't seen this painting, sometimes titled The Ugly Duchess, before reading this book. Probably would've ruined it for me! (Do not view until you read the book!)


Viohlet Elis wrote: "YIKES! I'm really glad I hadn't seen this painting, sometimes titled The Ugly Duchess, before reading this book. Probably would've ruined it for me! (Do not view until you read the book!)"

LOL


message 21: by Elis (last edited Oct 21, 2012 05:09PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elis Madison True story: They think he might have modeled it on a real woman who had Paget's Disease... If true, my heart breaks for the poor woman. And thank the Lord there are treatments today.


message 22: by Elis (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elis Madison Had to repost some of the images.


message 23: by Jac (new)

Jac Gossett Best Review EVER! :)


message 24: by Elis (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elis Madison Thanks SO MUCH!!


Cjboyle Great review. Felt much the same as I read this book, however could not have done a review as well as you. I give the book 3 stars (passable) but your review 5 stars (brilliant).


message 26: by Elis (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elis Madison Thank you. I'm still having trouble with the 1-5 star rating scheme. I did enjoy this book. I guess I just figure that with traditionally published books, the "average" is pretty darned good, since publishers' standards are extremely high, for the most part.


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