- Title: The Ugly Duchess
- Classification: Adult Fiction
- Genre: Historical Romance
- Format: Paperback, 384 pages
- Publisher: Avon (August 28, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 0062021737
- ISBN-13: 978-0062021731
Once upon a time there was a young heiress and young Earl who were best friends. They could tell the other anything and everything. Their parents had been best friends, as well, and when Theo's father passed, James' father took Theo and her mother in. They were raised as brother and sister living under the same roof. Then one day James' father, the Duke of Ashbrook, did something that would change everything....
“You’ll have to marry her. I don’t care if you think of her as a sister: from now on, she’s the Golden Fleece to you.”
“What have you done?” James spat the words. A terrible feeling of dread was spreading through his limbs.
They say secrets have a way of revealing themselves at the most inconvenient moments and that is what James was afraid of when he decided to go through with his father's plans to marry Daisy (aka Theo). So as you can guess that's precisely what happened. But this secret wasn't revealed in a normal way. It was revealed in such an embarrassing and humiliating way that it could scar a person. It also left James and his father packing and Theo's heart breaking in its wake.
James truly cared for Theo and would never wish to do anything to hurt her. At first he refused to give in to his father's plan, but once he realized the extent of what his father had done, he reluctantly gave in. He'd planned to disclose all to Theo eventually, but sometimes things don't work out as planned. Additionally, Theodora Saxby didn't live up to the standard mitigated by the ton for beauty--her face was too angular, her chin too strong and her nose too long. It was for those reasons that shortly after their marriage, the papers declared her 'The Ugly Duchess'. So two days into her marriage she felt betrayed, used, humiliated, ugly and abandoned as she lost not only her husband, but her best friend as well.
This was a great story, but I kept wishing the time between the couple splitting and being reunited was shorter. Seven years is a long time. Additionally, some people may take issue with the fact that while married but separated, one of the two has an affair.
I liked how Theodora and James reinvented themselves during their separation, each growing up a little. Theo became a woman to be admired while James became a pirate and gained a better sense of himself and what he wanted. I believe it was his pirate nature as along with other events that finally made him decide to invade Theo's world and try to plunder the bounty of her heart. Let me just say I loved the way he went about it.
I loved the chemistry between Theo and James. It sizzled and scorched the pages as passion encapsulated the two. Hmm...perhaps I should have used a different metaphor that tied in the pirate theme? How about James shivered Theo's timbers. *smirk* I must say the man had me swooning.
While pirates have been around for a long time in romances I can't help but wonder if this marks the beginning of a new invasion of them into our romances? This is the second or third romance I've recently read with a pirate hero. I'm definitely crossing my fingers.
Overall I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. The book had me hooked from start to finish and left me smiling in its wake. I loved the way Ms. James tied the Ugly Duckling story into this book and made it her own. I loved both James and Theo and wanted to throttle James' father. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.
Order of the series (reading in order not required) :