This is an Official Review by an Eye On Romance Official Reviewer
for Ugly Duchess, The
Date of Review: 07/08/12
The story of the Ugly Duckling is one that all of us know. We love the redemption of the duckling growing into a beautiful swan despite the torments he suffers. Eloisa James takes this timeless classic and turns it into a romantic tale set in Regency England. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but looked forward to the adventure.
James Ryburn, Earl of Islay, doesn’t know what to do when his father calls him into his library and announces that James must marry his father’s ward in order to save the family fortunes. James knows that his father is a gambler who cannot hold onto money, but never expected that he would be forced to marry his best friend whom he considers a sister. James agrees know that everything will fall apart when his bride learns the truth. What James doesn’t know is the depth of feeling he has for her or the lengths he will go to in order to protect her and make her happy.
Theodora Saxby knows that she is no beauty. She accepts that her profile is just a little too masculine and that the gowns her mother puts her in make the contrast even more apparent. She lives for the day when she can make her own choices about what she wears. Theo, as she prefers to be called, just needs to find the perfect husband to allow her that freedom. Theo doesn’t expect her best friend to propose to her or to enjoy his kisses so much.
Theodora is a strongly opinionated young woman who knows her own mind. James is a young man trying to figure out his place while dealing with a temper and his father’s demands. Both of these characters are quite young at the beginning of the story. Theodora is only 17 and James is 19. Their respective ages and innocence play a role in how the story unfolds.
Knowing that the secret of James’ proposal to Theodora couldn’t remain a secret forever and trying to figure out what would happen when she learned of it kept me reading. I wanted to know how the secret would be revealed and exactly what would happen when it was. After all, there is no doubt from the very beginning that it will be revealed. We also see the depth of friendship and caring these two characters have for each other which make one wonder if the betrayal is more hurtful or more easily forgiven.
I enjoyed the premise of this story more than the actual execution of it. The idea of a young woman who isn’t thought to be conventionally pretty finding love and learning how beautiful she is appealed to me. I thought this story would go in such a different direction from the way that it actually went. I can understand the choices that Ms. James made in writing the story, but I didn’t want the events to unfold in the manner in which they did. I am trying not to give too much of the plot away for those who haven’t read the story yet. Suffice it to say, I loved the beginning and the ending, but found the middle to be a little tedious and drawn out.