THE UGLY DUCHESS – Eloisa James
The Fairy Tale Series , Book 4
ISBN: 978-0-06-202173-1 (Print)
ISBN: 978-0-06-219796-2 (eBook)
London, the High Seas, Paris, and England Again; 1809 to 1817
As ward of the Duke of Ashbrook, Theodora Saxby grew up side-by-side with the duke's son and heir, Lord James Ryburn. They were best friends…until the duke ordered his son to marry Theo. James was horrified! He was not yet twenty years old and looked upon Theo as a sister! But did he have a choice? Ashbrook had paupered the estate and even raided Theo's funds that he was supposed to be safeguarding.
Theo was neither pretty nor dainty; some might consider her strong profile mannish. Unfortunately, her mother made matters worse—with all good intentions—by dressing her in frills and froufrou. That mattered not at all to James; it was having to pretend a different sort of love for her that flooded him with guilt, but he fortified himself, kissed her at a ball, and the wedding soon followed. Matters might have worked out but for two things, the gossip sheets and the ton began calling Theo The Ugly Duchess , and the duke opened his cynical mouth. Even after a glorious two days of marriage when friendship turned into something more, Theo's heart broke when she overheard the reason for James's proposal… he only took an ugly bride for her money!
The duke, his son, and Theo are strong personalities. Besides having a fierce temper, the duke is highly insensitive. James controls his temper better than his sire, but his feelings of guilt over the hurt he's caused Theo (whom he affectionately calls Daisy) weigh heavily on his conscience. While Theo's self-confidence has never been strong because of her looks, she's bright and talented, but her heartbreak took over and she ordered James to go, saying she never wants to see him again . Their trading ship happened to be in harbor, so James wasted no time leaving England's shores behind.
While in the tale of the Ugly Duckling it takes only a short time for nature to turn the “duckling” into a swan, it's going to take years of effort and anguish for any happy ending to be possible for THE UGLY DUCHESS. It's tempting to go on and on, for THE UGLY DUCHESS is a moving and dramatic story on two fronts as Theo and James are separated, but that wouldn't be fair to reader or author. Just know that it is written with intelligence and wit by Ms. James's incomparable pen. (Her sensuous love scenes are among the few I don't skip over in a hurry to get back to character and plot.)
Even though it may be hard at times on an empathic reader, THE UGLY DUCHESS more than repays persevering. And it deserves special recommendation. That's why I'm giving it one of RRT's rare Perfect 10s. For more titles in this and other series, check out the author's website at HTTP://eloisajames.com .