‘The Ugly Duchess’ by Eloisa James

TUD EJSTORY: 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 six months.

Theo would have given it a lifetime…until she discovers that James desired not her heart, and certainly not her countenance, but her dowry. Society was shocked by their wedding; it’s scandalized by their separation.

Now James faces the battle of his lifetime, convincing Theo that he loved the duckling who blossomed into the swan.

And Theo will quickly find that for a man with the soul of a pirate, All’s Fair in Love—or War.

REVIEW: It appears that Ms. James is well on her way to give us her take on many fairy tales most of us have grown up with. After A Kiss at Midnight’ [her take on Cinderella], When Beauty Tamed the Beast [her take on The Beauty and the Beast] andThe Duke is Mine [her take on The Princess and the Pea] we’re now on The Ugly Duchess [her take on The Ugly Duckling] and coming in May 2013, Once Upon A Tower’ which will be her take on Rapunzel.

Personally, I found out that I’m not such a fan of authors relying on ‘tried and true’ stories to give them a spring-board for retelling of them. It’s like taking a much-loved movie and remaking it over and over making me wonder if anyone out there has or can come up with an original idea.

That said I am here to tell you that Ms. James had managed, despite the predictability and underlying thread through this series, to surprise me with a fresh, entertaining and compelling retelling of each fairy tale story so far.

If you’ve never read this author, picking up any of these stories will give you a pretty good idea as to her writing and voice. Both are very good and this story is no different.

I liked the characterization of both hero and the heroine, decant pace and that which this author excels the most in, the dialogue. As for the plot development, after much deliberation with myself and deeper look at the motivation of both characters, I decided that it was plausible for these young people to be rash at the start of their romance and act according to their assumptions of each other. After all, what would a fairy tale be without suspending our beliefs and give into believing Eloisa’s wonderful story weaving?

And now I find myself looking forward to Ms. James’ take on Rapunzel and her May 2013 release of  ‘Once Upon a Tower’ which is a“…version of Rapunzel (though she says there’s a little Romeo and Juliet thrown in as well).”

Now how can I say NO to that?!

*Book provided by AVON through EDELWEISS.

‘The Lady Most Willing: A Novel in Three Parts’ by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James & Connie Brockway

TLMW JQ EJ CBSTORY: At the behest of three of the most talented historical romance authors writing today, you are cordially invited to a ball. No, a party. No . . . a kidnapping.

Taran Ferguson, laird of his clan, is determined that his ancient (if not so honorable) birthright be secured before he dies. When both his nephews refuse to wed, the old reprobate takes matters into his own hands: he raids a ball and makes off with four likely brides . . .

Miss Marilla Chisholm—the bonniest lass in Scotland, and an heiress to boot.

Miss Fiona Chisholm—her older sister, another fine choice (but for that tiny stain on her reputation).

Lady Cecily Tarleton—true, she’s an English beauty, but very, very rich.

Miss Catriona Burns—without name or fortune, clearly someone made a mistake.

Oh, yes. And one very irate duke.

Because somewhere there must be one lady most willing to love a Scottish lord.

REVIEW: This collaborative story is the second one for these three bestselling authors and as of now it’s been for 2 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

If you’ve not read the previous collaborative work from these women, then you might not realize that this is one continuing story through the book, woven by all three authors. This kind of collaboration doesn’t happen often because all three stories must align seamlessly in order for the book, as a whole, to be fully enjoyed.

I am sorry to say that I found that in this case they didn’t. If I can tell which parts were written by Julia and Eloisa, being more familiar with their work, then the collaboration wasn’t a full success, in my opinion. The story in itself, as predictable as I found it, wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as I expected, especially coming from the authors I have such great respect and love for.

All three stories left me in want of something more, something a bit deeper, a bit meaningful and less predictable. The writing was good, plot so-so and pace varied from author to author, which in the end wasn’t a bad thing. Maybe that’s why in the end of it, I was left conflicted about which parts I liked and which left me cold.

My conclusion was, despite good and familiar writing of the two authors I greatly admire, I enjoyed it less  because all three stories felt rushed thus the book felt incomplete even though everyone reached their happy ending. Don’t misunderstand me. I liked it, I just didn’t love it.

Book provided by Avon through Edelweiss.