‘My American Duchess’ by Eloisa James

mad ejSTORY: The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford— an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés.

But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.

The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear:

All’s fair in love and war.

REVIEW: London – 1803

Miss Merry Pelford is a lovely, young American woman. Having lost her parents at a young age, she has been brought up in Boston by her loving aunt and uncle. A wealthy young woman, she has now come to London in search of a husband. She has been engaged twice before, but both relationships ended quickly. It appears that Merry realized that she just did not truly love these men.

The Duke of Trent inherited his title some years when his parents were killed in a carriage accident. His dedication to duty and running of his estates consumes his time. While he realizes that one day he will have to marry, he is in no hurry to do so. He knows that he has yet to meet the perfect woman who will challenge him intelligently instead of the usual retinue of missish young ladies he encounters at soirees. He is also quite concerned about his younger twin brother, Cedric. The man spends too much money and is, quite simply, a drunk. He is good at concealing it from the public. He acts rather normal when out in society, but becomes very drunk when he returns home every night. Trent has no patience with Cedric’s heavy alcohol consumption as his father had been drinking when he was driving the carriage when their fatal accident occurred.

Just now, Lord Cedric Allardyce has asked for Merry Pelford’s hand in marriage. The man is quite handsome, well dressed, and full of flowery language but she is unaware of the person he really is. He realizes that she is a very rich heiress and he lusts after her money. Merry is quite smitten with him and accepts. But before the engagement can be announced, Merry meets another man the same evening with whom she has a delightful conversation and to whom she is attracted. He is none other than the Duke of Trent. They don’t know one another’s names at the time they converse. The Duke is so taken with Merry that he decides he wants to learn her name and is sure that she is the one he wants to marry. When he sees her later, he is shocked to find that she had earlier agreed to marry Cedric and she realizes that once again, she has been very foolish and said yes to a proposal when she shouldn’t have.

We see how the attraction between Merry and Trent has caught fire and just cannot be denied. But Cedric shows his true colors with the threats he makes to Merry if she tries to call off the engagement. She has no other choice but to go through with the wedding.

How can Merry stand to live with a man as evil as Cedric?

This is where the story gets interesting. I liked Merry very much. Her American ways and her intelligence are refreshing and fun. Trent has not known any love from his parents in his life so he doesn’t know what love is. How can he find happiness in his life? Cedric is portrayed perfectly as the evil, jealous twin. However, I can’t help but hope he has a comeuppance in his future that will help him mend his ways. Trent was hard to like. I felt like Merry gives it all in the story and Trent just takes. But maybe I’m wrong. Do read this book and be sure to write a review with your opinion.

Connie for b2b

‘Paris in Love’ by Eloisa James

pil ejSTORY: n 2009, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James took a leap that many people dream about: she sold her house, took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moved her family to Paris. Paris in Love: A Memoir chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

With no classes to teach, no committee meetings to attend, no lawn to mow or cars to park, Eloisa revels in the ordinary pleasures of life—discovering corner museums that tourists overlook, chronicling Frenchwomen’s sartorial triumphs, walking from one end of Paris to another. She copes with her Italian husband’s notions of quality time; her two hilarious children, ages eleven and fifteen, as they navigate schools—not to mention puberty—in a foreign language; and her mother-in-law Marina’s raised eyebrow in the kitchen (even as Marina overfeeds Milo, the family dog).

Paris in Love invites the reader into the life of a most enchanting family, framed by la ville de l’amour.

REVIEW: I absolutely loved this book especially as it mirrored so much of what I experienced while living in Paris for six years.

The unique little vignettes that Ms. James wrote brought smiles and memories to me. For anyone who has lived in Paris or hopes to just visit there some day, this little gem is must reading.

Ms. James has included lots of addresses for buying all sorts of things and for eating out. When you do get to take that trip to Paris, take along a copy of this great book and your travel guide. You will then be fully prepared for an adventure of a lifetime.

Connie for b2b

‘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.