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Eloisa James's THE UGLY DUCHESS

 
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Lynda X



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 1446

PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:28 am    Post subject: Eloisa James's THE UGLY DUCHESS Reply with quote

This book has been out for a few weeks, but I finally got it at the library yesterday and read it almost in one sitting (one LONG sitting). It was very well done, with an opening intensity of the duke telling his son that the family is broke (because of his own profligacy) and that he (the son) must marry his best childhood friend to rescue the family. The son is properly outraged, but when his father threatens to impoverish his sisters, he gives in. To make matters worse, Daisy is very thin, unstylishly (for her figure) dressed, and thinks she is ugly, as does everyone around her, except her mother and our hero. I personally love beauty and the beast and ugly duckling stories, and this was a good one.

Eloisa James does an excellent job in portraying the youthfulness of both the h&h (James does not realize when he marries Daisy that he loves her, for example) and their later maturation. Some of the Amazon reviews have criticized James's choice of childhood friends who marry, calling it almost incestuous. I don't agree. Another criticized Daisy's quick willingness to forgive James, but again, I don't agree. Instead, she examines her contribution to their separation and tries to make the best of their relationship. I usually detest romances where the h&h are separated for any length of time, and although this occurs in the book, it is well done and does not go on for too many pages.

I thought the loves scenes were especially well done--tender and funny.

If you want a book with two people who are grounded in love, begun in childhood as best friends who thoroughly know each other, and grow into a marriage that brings out the best in each, this is the book for you.

Grade: B


Last edited by Lynda X on Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:26 am; edited 1 time in total
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Kayne



Joined: 31 Mar 2007
Posts: 892

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 5:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Elisa James's THE UGLY DUTCHESS Reply with quote

I am looking forward to the e-book novella, Seduced by a Pirate, to come out Oct 30th, which is the companion story to the Ugly Duchess. I am intrigued to hear about how Sir Griffin Barry will reunite with his wife.
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jaime



Joined: 23 Sep 2011
Posts: 516

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sad I am afraid I have fallen out of love with Eloisa James' romances. I didn't enjoy this book or the previous one.

The last James romance I liked was the Villiers book. Oh, and her account of her year in Paris with her family - I highly recommend that memoir.
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Eliza



Joined: 21 Aug 2011
Posts: 1133

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Linda X: I enjoyed reading your thoughtful review of the new Eloisa book. I too love Beauty and the Beast, and Ugly Duckling stories. And I'm on the same page as you about the Amazon incestuous comments--thoughts like that for fiction are generally non-starters for me. Actually, the setup for this story was a draw for me--the childhood friends angle which is a personal favorite.

I have to confess though that I'm a very devoted, loyal Eloisa fan. I may like a few of her stories a little more than others perhaps at times, but I always love her writing which is among the best out there IMO, and not just for the story itself, but also for her use of language, her wittiness and humor, warmth and humanity, and the "more" or the "layers" that are always there somewhere. She said this better that I did (of course) in her dedication in Ugly Duchess:

This book is dedicated to the wonderful poet and storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. His plots have given me obvious inspiration, as in this version of his fairy story The Ugly Duckling, but more than that, his ability to weave together joy and philosophical thought inspires every novel I write.

The bolded type says more clearly and simply just what it is that makes me enjoy and admire this author's writing so very much.

@Jaime: I loved the Paris posts while EJ was there, and I do agree the Villiers story is a darned hard feat to top.
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Lynda X



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 1446

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaime and Eliza, what James' book are you talking about? Can you tell us the title and something about it, please?

Eliza, I totally agree with you about books that have some philosophy (and usually believable psychology) in them. I especially admire some of the older Courtney Milan books, especially UNLOCKED, which is only $.99 on Kindle. In it, a man returns, after years of absence when he realized that he inflicted pain and ridicule on a young woman (he was young too), one that, ironically, he really liked. When he returns, he is horrified to see the effects of his casual cruelty. I loved this novella: the romance was great, but even more, Milan's insights into not only the effects of bullying, but also how the victims actually increase it, without their realization.
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bijoux



Joined: 30 Jan 2009
Posts: 395

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this is my favorite of the fairy tale books, though it's not perfect.

I have no problem with the set up, in fact I love it. The first part of the book is terrific. They just feel very real for their age. It's just that by the time we get to them seeing each other again, I have the feeling that the book is practically finished. I would have liked for that segment to have been more developed.

I'm looking forward to Sir Griffin's novella as well. The back story to him and his missus is definitely something I don't read every day. Very Happy
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jaime



Joined: 23 Sep 2011
Posts: 516

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lynda X, I was talking about this book - a lovely read:

http://books.usatoday.com/book/with-%E2%80%98paris-in-love-eloisa-james-describes-a-year-aboard/r682524

Eliza, I have no problem with James' writing - but I haven't liked the couples in her last two romances. Or their stories.
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Eliza



Joined: 21 Aug 2011
Posts: 1133

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Linda X: Actually we were talking about two books, the one jaime answered and one in the Desperate Duchess series.

Eloisa and her family spent a year in Paris, sometimes going back to Italy to be with her husband Alessandro's family near Florence. I haven't read the memoir yet because Eloisa posted nearly every day of her year abroad, and sometimes several times a day. It was so wonderful, like hearing from a friend there or being there yourself, and some of the hijinks that went on were hilarious. And the two professors having time off for themselves was romantic too, I think. I think her daughter Anna now has her own unofficial fan base. LOL Eloisa's two children, already bilingual in English and Italian, both went to French speaking schools for the year.

If you were asking about our reference to Villiers??? He was one of three main characters appearing throughout the six-book Desperate Duchess series. Each book has a a different romantic couple, but two of the series-long characters Jemma and Elijah finish in book 5, and the third character Villiers in book 6. The last two books are of course my favorites but all the books build up to and add to the those last books. All the books can stand alone but I think you miss something by not reading them in order, which are held together with an overarching chess theme that mirrors the "moves" of the main characters. EJ's book page http://eloisajames.com/bookshelf/main.php#desperate gives sample pages of the books if you're interested.

@jaime: I didn't mean to imply that you said anything about EJ's writing. I think book 6, A Duke of Her Own, with Villiers is in a class by itself--an all-time favorite EJ--and a darned hard act to follow IMO. But I was separating storytelling from writing from just my own perspective and perhaps not making the point well enough that while Villiers is a fave story, EJ's writing is always a pleasure for me, all on its own.
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jaime



Joined: 23 Sep 2011
Posts: 516

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eliza, I love Villiers and the character development James gives him throughout the six books in the series. The story line with his children is great fun too - I especially adore his oldest son, I wish James would write a book about him. Smile
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1665

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm almost done with The Ugly Duchess and have exactly the opposite reaction from the reviewer in that I liked the first part much more than the last (after James returns to England). I think EJ is one of the best romance writers around. She's smart, she uses language correctly (no annoying gaffes that pull me out of the story), she's funny, and I actually like the various relationships because the multiple interactions add depth to her heroes and heroines.

What I liked about this book:
o How well she captures just how young Theo/Daisy and James are at the beginning of the book. Their enthusiasm, the strength of their reactions, their inability or unwillingness to explain themselves at the moment of crisis -- these are all signs of youth and inexperience. I liked them both very much and my heart broke for both of them.
o The fact that they grew up in the same household did not bother me and made more realistic the speed with which they fell in love. I can understand, however, why it might bother other people.

What I did not like:
o I felt that Theo might have grown rigid over the years, but I also felt that James just steamrollered over her when he returned, an example of the far too frequent cases where the hero's lust makes him stronger but the heroine's lust just makes her weak in the knees (and everywhere else).
o Couldn't forgive him for never once contacting her the entire time he was away. Feelings of guilt were no excuse, and he had the example of Griffin who at least let his wife know occasionally that he was alive. If anything, you'd think Griffin would be more embarrassed about his marital disaster, and he had far less of an emotional connection to Poppy than James did to Theo.
o And finally, once again we have the hero catting around, gaining "experience", while the heroine remains chaste. I believed in it and thought it perfectly natural for such a young man, but it was just one more way in which James was allowed to gain power over Theo when he returned.
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Leigh



Joined: 29 May 2007
Posts: 2689

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Susan/DC wrote:
I'm almost done with The Ugly Duchess and have exactly the opposite reaction from the reviewer in that I liked the first part much more than the last (after James returns to England). I think EJ is one of the best romance writers around. She's smart, she uses language correctly (no annoying gaffes that pull me out of the story), she's funny, and I actually like the various relationships because the multiple interactions add depth to her heroes and heroines.

What I liked about this book:
o How well she captures just how young Theo/Daisy and James are at the beginning of the book. Their enthusiasm, the strength of their reactions, their inability or unwillingness to explain themselves at the moment of crisis -- these are all signs of youth and inexperience. I liked them both very much and my heart broke for both of them.
o The fact that they grew up in the same household did not bother me and made more realistic the speed with which they fell in love. I can understand, however, why it might bother other people.

What I did not like:
o I felt that Theo might have grown rigid over the years, but I also felt that James just steamrollered over her when he returned, an example of the far too frequent cases where the hero's lust makes him stronger but the heroine's lust just makes her weak in the knees (and everywhere else).
o Couldn't forgive him for never once contacting her the entire time he was away. Feelings of guilt were no excuse, and he had the example of Griffin who at least let his wife know occasionally that he was alive. If anything, you'd think Griffin would be more embarrassed about his marital disaster, and he had far less of an emotional connection to Poppy than James did to Theo.
o And finally, once again we have the hero catting around, gaining "experience", while the heroine remains chaste. I believed in it and thought it perfectly natural for such a young man, but it was just one more way in which James was allowed to gain power over Theo when he returned.


I just knew the other shoe was going to fall - so it made it a little difficult really appreciate their personalities. I do agree that heroine definitely got too rigid.

Glad you enjoyed it, even if not for the same reasons I did. And appreciate your comments.
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Eliza



Joined: 21 Aug 2011
Posts: 1133

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some time has passed since I read the book, and as it turns out, what stuck with me was already well said by Linda X:
--an excellent job in portraying the youthfulness of both the h&h
--the loves scenes were especially well done--tender and funny
--I usually detest romances where the h&h are separated for any length of time, and although this occurs in the book, it is well done and does not go on for too many pages
--two people who are grounded in love, begun in childhood as best friends who thoroughly know each other, and grow into a marriage that brings out the best in each

I also am on the same page as Leigh:
--As someone who at times is easily bored with sex scenes, I tend to adore Ms. James' I think mainly because she has the perfect balance of lust, description, and humor.

I really liked what Susan said:
--How well she captures just how young Theo/Daisy and James are at the beginning of the book. Their enthusiasm, the strength of their reactions, their inability or unwillingness to explain themselves at the moment of crisis -- these are all signs of youth and inexperience. I liked them both very much and my heart broke for both of them.

And like bijoux, this was my favorite of the fairy tale books.

Things that bothered some others didn't bother me in hindsight: the incestuous thing, Daisy's rigidity (her way of coping), what James did or didn't do as a pirate, James' determination to get Daisy back, and Daisy forgiving James (once she really "saw" he was still James). Since the story read like a fairy tale to me, once I suspended belief on the pirate thing, I let go of what went with that. That's saying something for me since generally I'm not drawn to pirate stories.
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1665

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I should add that I actually liked the book more than my initial comments may imply. There was a section right after James returned that I did not care for, as I don't like books where all the power seems to belong to only one of the characters (usually but not always the hero). By the end, however, I thought the book got back on track, and I very much liked the epilogue, where you got a sense of their relationship as that of two partners and where two of their babies come "as a matched set".
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