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The Ugly Duchess

Average Rating 4
( 201 )
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(84)

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(65)

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(28)

2 Star

(14)

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(10)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Wonderfully Romantic!

I fell in love with Theo and James! Theo is a warm hearted practical soul who realizes she is never going to fit the set “standard” of English beauty; she just wants to be liked for her own good qualities and wishes her peers would get to know her before dismissing her ...
I fell in love with Theo and James! Theo is a warm hearted practical soul who realizes she is never going to fit the set “standard” of English beauty; she just wants to be liked for her own good qualities and wishes her peers would get to know her before dismissing her for lack of looks. James is Theo’s best friend and one of the only people besides her mother, that doesn’t see her as ugly. In fact, it bothers him greatly when people refer to her in that way. Unfortunately, James is also a confused young man trying to grow out of his father’s shadow; he has watched his father make a mess of their fortunes and generally fail James in every possible way. When James realizes that his father has betrayed his Theo as well, his first instinct is to protect Theo but, unfortunately, he doesn’t know how to betray his own father in the process. Meanwhile, his feelings for Theo are changing as the instinct to protect her grows; he suddenly realizes that he’s thinking of her as more than a friend. Suddenly, both Theo and James are in a mess not of their own making; and in steps his father, to break things even further. Theo feels betrayed and in a fit of heartbreak orders James out of her life; James in a fit of guilt does as she asks and goes. When James left Theo, I was crying for them both! The story develops a wonderful twist at that point; everything hinges on whether or not James can learn to grow up and fight for what he wants, Theo. I loved this book, the characters were well developed and engaging and the story was just wonderfully romantic. I highly recommend The Ugly Duchess!

posted by princessgabby on August 31, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

I love Eloisa James and I have been looking forward to The Ugly

I love Eloisa James and I have been looking forward to The Ugly Duchess release. But compared to most of her books (I've read them all) I found this one disappointing. I think it was partly the way the book was structured and partly that the characters, especially the h...
I love Eloisa James and I have been looking forward to The Ugly Duchess release. But compared to most of her books (I've read them all) I found this one disappointing. I think it was partly the way the book was structured and partly that the characters, especially the heroine, Theo, were hard to empathize with over the course of the entire book. I loved both characters when they were first introduced, but after a whirlwind faux courtship ended by the trite convention of being caught in a compromising position, their marriage lasts a mere two days before Theo throws her husband James out and the characters are separated for 7 years. James' conversion to a pirate was a bit of a stretch for me, even in a fairy tale. Both characters undergo personality changes during their seven year separation, but the description of their experiences during those years and the way they are changed by them was quite truncated. Theo turns into a cold and rigid character, interesting but not endearing. I really didn't understand what the changes to James' personality were. He returns home in the nick of time to prevent his being declared dead and he and Theo are together another couple of days before the story ends (except for the epiloge, of course). The naritive includes less than a week's worth of days over a period of 7 years that the lead characters are together, but experience huge shifts in their feelings and relationship. Didn't work for me. This is not a book I will read and reread as I have several of her others, but no book written by Eloisa James is without its pleasures and much superior to most romances,, so my rating of "good" is relative.

posted by 6027759 on September 2, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2012

    Wonderful read!!

    Cleaverly written romance with a retelling on an old tale. It was sweet, funny, and allowed for a very detailed story all in all. I enjoyed reading this book as well as some of her others. I am so glad we have these gifted writers to rely on for unique story telling. I will be keeping this one for several repeat readings in the future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2012

    Ehhhh

    This book started out really well and then became super unrealistic. You leave your wife for 7 years and expect her to take you back ...plzzzzz. Also Theo's character was likeable in the beginning, but was really prudish in the end. This could have been better.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2012

    If I had known about the pirate aspect of the story I would neve

    If I had known about the pirate aspect of the story I would never have bothered to read this. It was poorly done and as others have said, somewhat ridiculous. I had high hopes for this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2012

    Not her best

    I love this author, truly, but something about thus story is lacking. Each chapter reads as though shes still thinking through the whole story... like this is a draft. First this happens then this, then that. I never got "lost" in this book and thats my favorite part of reading. I have read almost everything else shes written and would recommend them all... i cant say the same thing about the ugly dutchess.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2012

    I enjoyed the story line. Easy, light read. I enjoyed the cont

    I enjoyed the story line. Easy, light read. I enjoyed the contrast between characters james and theo. While the historical aspects agree with timeline, I thought a rogue duke with a tattoo, actively involved in the peerage, reached deep within a creative imagination. Nevertheless, I'm a sucker for a good romance! It's a cute story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2012

    The Best Fairy Tale Ever

    Theo has been raised with James, the Earl of Islay, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, since birth. Unfortunately, her guardian, the Duke of Ashbrook, who was her father's best friend, has absconded with her fortune. The Duchy will be ruined unless drastic measures are taken. It leaves her guardian's son, James, to make amends. However, James sees no resolution to his father's deception except to marry Theo after they are caught in a comprising position.

    Theo and James are married. The ton and press call Theo the Ugly Duchess. Why? Because her manly features don't match the beauty of James. How could James stand to be married to such a person? Theo believes James marries her for love. But, after Theo finds the real reasons for the marriage, she throw James out and repairs the damage her father-in-law has wrought to her inheritance and the estate. James can't face what he's done and disappears for 7 years. Finally, he shows up before being declared legally dead. But who is there to meet him? Theo of 7 years ago or the Countess of Islay, a beauty of refinement and elegance, who has found her own path through the trials and tribulation left in her husband's wake? Only James and Theo will discover if they can overcome all the obstacles of their past romance.

    This is one of Eloisa James's best novels in my opinion. There are so many levels in this novel-one could spend days and days comparing this story to the classics. True clear writing with the spin that only Eloisa James can deliver. The characters and the emotions expressed are deep and timeless.

    Don't wait. If you're a fan of great stories and terrific writing, you need to read this unique story. It's one you will want to read over and over again. James has a way of weaving a story with clear crisp prose that leaves you wanting more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2012

    Excellent

    Loved it. I do not cry over books, but this one almost brought me to tears. I will remember this one for a long time coming...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2012

    Put this heartwarming and sexy story at the head of your TBR list!

    Eloisa James continues her spin on classic fairy tales with this delightful romance based upon the Ugly Duckling story. The main characters, Theo and James, are both really likeable and I loved their honest interactions. The story spans over seven years and the reader really gets to see the characters mature and can fully understand and relate to their motivations, especially Theo's insecurities. One of those books that you will read in one sitting because you just can't put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2012

    This was an enjoyable book with memorable characters and I hig

    This was an enjoyable book with memorable characters and I highly recommend it. I started and completed it in one evening because I just couldn't put it down. Double kudos to Eloisa!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2014

    VMR

    Good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2014

    A Great Read

    Interesting twists on the regency era. A little mystery and excitement to spice the pot.

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  • Posted September 15, 2014

    Once again, Eloisa James captivates me with a lovely and poignan

    Once again, Eloisa James captivates me with a lovely and poignant love story, the fourth romance in her enchanting Fairy Tales series. The young love between two best friends is sorely tested by deceit, mistrust, and a painful separation.
    I love both James and Theo. Their humanity, failings and fragilities, and devotion to each other is one of the best parts about this book. I actually choked up at one point as I felt deeply for both in their own predicaments and deepest fears. I wanted them to find a way to happiness together. This is rather how I recall feeling with both Fitz and Millie in Ravishing the Heiress and Helena and David in Tempting the Bride, both by Sherry Thomas, another consummate storyteller.
    Eloisa James has such a magical way with language—of course, she’s a Shakespeare professor—that her characters, plots, and emotions leap off the page. Her style is energetic, colorful, and such a delight to read; I am charmed every single time.
    The friendship between Theo and James is funny and sweetly endearing. They have been raised together as siblings—James calls her “Daisy”—ever since his father took guardianship of Theo when her own father died. In their formative  years, James’ father depletes the family’s finances—he has even dipped into Theo’s—when he demands that James marry Theo to save their fortunes and reputation.
    James and Theo are very young; she’s seventeen and he is only two years older when they marry. James is sick with guilt over deceiving his dearest friend. Theo has strong physical features that, despite being an heiress, have marked her as physically unattractive in society’s eyes. She persuades James to pretend to court her so that other men will take notice. It works too well. When they realize they love each (even if they don’t really think they do), it’s a magical moment. They are so right for each other.
    “She reached out and took his hand in hers—his familiar, utterly dear hand. ‘You’re right. You are the only one.’” (p54)
    One of my favorite things about this book is how James always loved Daisy. Even when his father demanded he marry her and said dreadful things about her, he felt a deep and true love for her. No mean gossip ever deterred him from his true beliefs. To the very end, he defends and consoles her hurts.
    However, it is no surprise, but I am disappointed that James does not remain faithful to Theo while he’s away. It just is wrong to me when a hero does this after he knows the heroine and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I realize it may seem completely unrealistic, especially since they are separated and he is a man, however, I like to think there are some honorable and true men out there. Witness even the debauched DeVere’s fidelity (granted, of intercourse only) to Diane in Victoria Vane’s naughty Devil DeVere series. I really like James but he let me down.
    I also notice in their love story, that they are kind of alone in their friendship and marriage. James’ father is well-meaning but utterly callous while Theo’s mother wants to marry her off so she can live her own life without worrying about her daughter. So when the truth (or what Theo thinks is the entire truth) comes out, neither of them have anyone else to turn to. I could feel their loneliness and despair.
    The lovely resolution conversation at the end is one of the best I’ve read and brings home the lasting friendship and love between hero and heroine.
    Another Eloisa James romance that will warm your heart.

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  • Posted February 15, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Rachel Book provided by Edelweiss for review Review

    Reviewed by Rachel
    Book provided by Edelweiss for review
    Review originally posted at Romancing the Book


    Let me start off by saying this book was not at all what I expected.  And there are a few mild spoilers in this review.

    Let me explain. James, the heir to the dukedom has been given orders by his nasty father that he needs to marry Daisy or as she likes to refer to herself Theo.

    The problem? She’s like a sister to him, and according to everyone but James, she’s ugly.

    Naturally you can guess where this is going. His father has just enough hanging in the balance that James is forced to marry the girl. But, here’s where things get weird. James actually likes her, potentially loves her, he just feels like he’s betraying his best friend by not being honest.

    They are extremely young (17 and 19) and of course immature in how they handle things. James is a gorgeous man with his whole life ahead of him. Theo is an “ugly” heiress who, the day after her wedding, was titled with “The Ugly Duchess.”

    Days after their wedding, Theo and James enjoy marital bliss, until James father, the current Duke, returns home and ruins the secret sending Theo into fits of despair forcing her to resent James and send him away.

    And there you have your story..well, kind of. You see, Eloisa James divided this book into two parts. The Before and The After. Quite clever if you ask me, because feminine readers will identify with the idea that Theo’s life was ripped in two the minute her best friend walked out of it. She refers to her own life as the before and after. I really appreciated this and found it interesting. Miss James could have EASILY written the entire book based off of the first section and it still would have been amazing. Instead, she gave us a glimpse into the two main characters past and then jumped ahead to the future.

    The middle of the book drags, just slightly, but in a way it needed to in order for us to understand the change in Theo as well as James.

    Theo turns into an icicle, no longer laughing, and a trifle OCD. I’ve noticed lately that Miss James has been bringing in some commonly untalked about issues in her books. Asburgers, being in the last book, and in this one, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. As a former counselor I can say she does this beautifully and really shines light onto how this was dealt with during regency times.

    While Theo is busy getting the estate back on track (thanks to the late duke’s gambling), James is off in the ocean trying to make a man of himself. He gets tattoos, says goodbye to his old name, and convinces himself that Theo never wants to see him again. His plan? To allow her to announce his death after the 7 year waiting period so she can remarry.

    His whole life is based off of guilt. Can you tell?

    Theo, on the other hand, is pouring herself into order and perfection. After more tragedy strikes (don’t want to add too many spoilers!), she decides to start her own fashion and goes to Paris to make a name for herself.

    She truly does become a Swan. And wonder of all wonders? Her long lost husband returns. Albeit, larger (try 30 pounds of extra muscle) w/ scars and that tattoo he wanted so badly. Ah, men.

    As with all Eloisa James books, it ends fantastically and I did have a smile on my face when it was done.

    What I didn’t like? It upset me that I never really knew what Theo looked like. She was often compared to a boy because of her lack of curves. It was also said she had sharp features, but James swore up and down she was beautiful? I get that it doesn’t matter, but I still would have liked to have a picture in my head of what she looked like. Was she ugly because she wasn’t the “thing” during that time period?

    And later, when James returns, you see this broken relationship that screamed for mending. I feel like they didn’t get everything out into the open until the very end and even then I REALLY would have liked James to be more open about how much he loved her during the seven years he was gone. In all honesty, his behavior while he was gone was less than exemplary, BUT, I will say he apologized.

    All in all, I really liked the book. Was it my favorite Eloisa James book? Probably not, but it was still really good. There is some cursing and a few graphic sex scenes. So virgin eyes, beware.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2014

    Honey I'm Home.................................................

    I don't care how ugly or insecure she was. No women in the world would take back a man who shows up after being gone for SEVEN YEARS and tells her he was out pirating and committing adultery. He does explain that any man would have screwed around like him because he considered the marriage over. However he has had a change of heart and decided he does want to be with her after all. Seriously. The world is full of men that say they love the woman their with and proceed to treat her like dirt. This is one of those stories. Add a star if you don't feel sorry for these women.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Pretty good!

    I thought this book was a good read, but not my favorite.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    Great book

    I loved it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2013

    Good

    Good

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  • Posted October 5, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    gain another book well written. I've found I absolutely love Fai

    gain another book well written. I've found I absolutely love Fairy Tales rewritten with a twist and every one of Eloisa James's have made me desperate to not only reread them, but waiting very impatiently for the next book. 




    This one as one can only assume from the title is about the "Ugly Ducking" which in Theo (Daisy's) place is true. In her time many didn't understand the difference between being thin and plump with curves to mean beauty. However James has always loved her, he may not have known it right away but as he states in the book, she's always belonged to him. 




    Thanks to James's father, he forces James to marry Theo. However he knows that marrying her isn't just being forced, but whatever they would have between them would be curses and looked over because of how they came to be. There short marriage falls apart when she discovers the reasons for James marrying her and banishes both James and his father from the house. 




    Seven long years later, James returns to claim his wife after almost dying from a wound. They both have changed but they both still love each other and you can feel that through the pages of the story. Well done again!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2013

    A modern retelling of the fairy tale "THE UGLY DUCKLING"

    This book shows how a woman can change her life. She can become a swan. It also tells us not to run away but confont our problems.
    The story is aneasy and relaxing read.
    Yes I have and I will read other books by Eloise James.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    Liked it!

    This one took a little bit longer to warm up to but the last third of the book was spectacular!

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