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The Ugly Duchess

(Fairy Tales #4)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  12,017 ratings  ·  1,216 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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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  12,017 ratings  ·  1,216 reviews

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Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Aug 27, 2012 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
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.

Jun 11, 2012 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
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

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
Dec 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: romance, meh, dnf
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
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
Aug 30, 2012 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
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
Jacob Proffitt
Mar 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
While part of a series, each is its own story so you don't really need any of the others to enjoy each one on its own.

At just under 30% I just can't go on. I love Theo, but James is a complete loss. I hate that he blows up so easily. I hate that he's so irresponsible and can't see past his own desires ("I just want to play outdoors and hate all that book stuff even though I'm smart and totally rocked school and all"). But most of all, I hate that his "love" manifests as him being an emotionally
PART 1 : LOVED it! Witty, charming, fun, sweet, passionate and so heartbreaking.

PART 2 : Everything that made the story and characters enjoyable started to fall apart. I didn't care for Theo's (a.k.a Daisy) 'transformation'. She went from a sweet, goofy, lovable mischievous young girl to an aloof, serious, tightly controlled frigid ice queen. I understood her need to want to take control of her life after separating from James but her strict rules on her fashion style and way of life I found tir
Jen Davis
Aug 16, 2012 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
Tanya Sridhar
I was given this book by one of my friends who adores this author. Should have started with a different book I think.

2.5/5 stars.

I truly did NOT enjoy this book. While the writing is solid, everything else falls flat.

A trainwreck is more appropriate I think.

We start with James our hero being convinced by his father to marry Theodora, someone he'd grown up with and almost considered his sister. But then a few chapters later he suddenly realizes that she isn't like his sister at all, he defs ha
Al George
Second time around: lost a star or two


Last book for the Historical Romance Year Long Challenge. Woot. I did it. Last year, I petered out when faced with Time Travel and Bodice Rippers. Can't believe I pulled it off.

What did or didn't work for me? I read this the first time in my earlier HR days. At the time, I thought it was delightful and fun and a wonderful romp. This time? Not so much. I think I've become much harder to please, which kinda sucks, as an aside. And I think I have read really,
Apr 16, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Who wants a hero who starts off kind but weak-willed and ends up cruel and strong-willed?
2.5 stars

When I first started this book I thought the 3.67 average rating was crazy low because I was enjoying the book so much! But then I got to the middle and end and now I think that number is too high. A woman who was so confident despite her acknowledged lack of traditional beauty, turns into a woman who cares too much about fashion and is a complete pushover. A good man who did the wrong thing for the right reasons becomes a complete ass who shows no care for anyone for several years and
Oct 27, 2012 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!
Ririn Aziz
Aug 19, 2012 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
Sha Mslvoe
Jul 08, 2012 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.

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
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was definitely unusual plot structure but I like it a lot. I enjoy the feeling of not knowing where the story is taking me. This book was surprising to the end.
Contrary to the title of the book, I didn’t think this was a retelling in any way of ugly duckling turning into a swan. I though Eloisa James went much deeper into human emotional development then that story line.
This is a romance between two opposites Theo, a responsible, creative, industrious but not so pretty girl and James, bea
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Yes it is cheating! Fucktard cheating loser of a H.

Stupid idiot of a h who takes this Fucktard back.

Sexist bullshit at its best!!!
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 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
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
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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

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.” 24 likes
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