THE DUKE IS MINE – Eloisa James
Avon Books
ISBN-13:  978-0-06-202128-1
January 2012
Historical Romance

London, England – 1812

Miss Olivia Mayfield Lytton and her twin sister Georgiana have been trained since they were born to be the wives of someone from the aristocracy.  The training, lessons and rules of propriety they have been taught all their lives are what the sisters call “duchification”.  As the older twin, Olivia has been promised to her father's college friend's son, even though Olivia is twenty-three and Rupert, the next Duke of Canterwick, is only eighteen and was damaged by a lack of oxygen at birth, making him slightly simple, or as some people say, have scrambled eggs for brains.  But Rupert is sweet, and before Olivia and Rupert sign their formal betrothal agreement, her mother tells her Rupert wants to go to war against the French and gain glory for his family name.  Also suggested is if Olivia was to get in “some way” before he leaves, if he died in France , she and her child would be set for life.  Unfortunately, Rupert's soggy stalk of celery can't do the job, though they leave all the parents thinking Rupert's line could be continued if something happens to him.

Miles away in Kent, Tarquin Brook-Chatfield, Duke of Sconce is listening to his mother going through all the attributes his future wife must have.  In fact, Her Grace, the Dowager Duchess of Sconce, wrote the book The Mirror of Compliments: a Complete Academy for the Attaining unto the Art of Being a Lady , a book that Olivia's mother constantly quotes to her daughters as the answer for any questions on etiquette and acting in public.  Tarquin made a very bad first marriage, marrying for love, and watched his wife turn to other men time after time, and eventually die while trying to run away with a lover.  All he asks is that she doesn't giggle, and he expects he'll have a normal society marriage with little affection for his wife.  In fact, his mother has invited two eligible women to come for a visit.  Georgiana is one of the suggested women, and her sister Olivia goes along for company.  But when a woman with a smart mouth shows up at his front door, it's as if they can read each other's minds.  When their coach turns over in the rain Olivia found her way to Quin's house and soon receives a kiss from a man she's strangely drawn to.

Despite Olivia's attraction to Quin, she learns her sister Georgiana actually likes him and feels a connection.  There's no way Olivia can try to steal Quin away from her, especially since she is betrothed to Rupert.  Quin and the two women his mother has chosen gradually get to know each other, but he is still attracted to Olivia.  Should he try to convince her to leave Rupert?  Olivia has a hard decision to make, especially when her future has been a lifelong project for her family.

Eloisa James has written THE DUKE IS MINE from the points of view of Olivia and Quin.  Each of them knows about disappointment:  Quin in his first marriage and Olivia as she realizes her marriage will be more like a mother and son; she will probably be the force behind Rupert when he becomes the Duke of Canterwick someday.  She has no affection, love or passion to look forward to, but that is the way she was raised, to be the wife of a duke.

There are many secondary characters that fit the story to precision.  There're Olivia and Georgiana's parents, who have spent all their lives and money preparing their daughters for good marriages.  Quin's mother is also looking to continue the line by getting her son to make a successful marriage.  Also are various members of Rupert's company of soldiers in France and Quin's cousin Justin, though young, is certainly one-of-a-kind.

THE DUKE IS MINE is one of Eloisa James's books based on fairy tales.  This book is based on the Princess and the Pea, and you'll enjoy how Ms. James weaves that fairy tale into her story.  She has written several other books with intertwined fairy tales, so try a slightly different historical romance and pick up THE DUKE IS MINE this month and enjoy a relatively modern rendition of a well-known tale.

Carolyn Crisher