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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 14 September 2012
CONTAINS SPOILERS When James Ryburn Earl of Islay and heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, is forced by his father the Duke to marry his best friend Theodora Saxby. He is mortified. For Theodora was his father's ward, and had lived in their household with her mother, since the death of her father.

The current Duke, Jame's father had almost bankrupted the estate, and to make matters worse he had even stolen some of Theodoras dowry to fritter away on his hairbrained schemes. Although James struggles with the idea of deceiving Theodora, or as he calls her Daisy. He still goes ahead and marries her. Theodora had not realised that her feelings ran so deep for James until he had kissed her and asked for her hand.

But all good things must come to an end. In this case it is when Theodora overhears the Duke and James arguing, and she discovers why James really married her. Devastated she asks him to leave, and to never return, or she will see that his father goes to prison. But seven years later, just as Theodora was going to have James legally declared dead. Like he proverbial bad penny he returns. Expecting to reclaim his wife and position in society as though nothing had happened.

For the past seven years James had been a pirate "Jack Hawk" and he had not been living a celibate life either.

This book is in two parts, and to be honest it felt like two different stories. The first part I enjoyed, but the scond part was very disappointing, for a big chunk of it is spent on describing the H/h separate lives, I have to be honest and say that I skimmed a lot of that, it was boring. So that left the reader with a few chapters at the end to reunite the two leads. If the author had spent a bit less time on describing their lives apart, and more time on James reappearance, I might have liked this more. As it was the ending felt rushed. I thought Theodora forgave James too quick, it wasn't realistic. I also didnt like his excuse for having more than one mistress during his seven year absence. It was because Theodora told him never to return, but he had! So it did matter.
I usually enjoy this authors books but not so much this time. The story felt unbalanced and it didn't flow. I didn't warm to the characters very much either.
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on 26 October 2013
My interest in this book was piqued by the title as I felt it seemed quite harsh, however, after a bit of Google research, I discovered that the author has written a series of historical romances, of which this is one, and are based on classic fairytales. This one is based on the Ugly Duckling.

This is an historical romance set in the Regency era and I confess it is not a genre I have read before and so I am basing my review on this book alone as I don't have others with which to compare it.

The Ugly Duchess is the story of two childhood friends Theodora Saxby and James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook. Theodora or Theo as she prefers to be referred to does not conform to the society's ideal of beauty at the time. After a surprise proposal from James, which Theodora accepts, she is given the title The Ugly Duchess. She discovers soon after the marriage that James only asked her to marry him under his father's orders. Distraught and humiliated, she throws James out of the marital home and immerses herself in the business she became co-owner of after her marriage. James meanwhile leaves the country and takes to the seas and becomes a pirate/privateer until he returns seven years later.

This was a quick and easy to read book and was rather more steamy than I was expecting from an historical romance! It was fast paced and it was interesting to learn about period details but I am unsure whether some of the language used was too modern and it didn't seem to sit right with the story. I was also a little disappointed at how quickly and easily that Theodora seemed to forgive her husband after his years of desertion. I know that the book was meant to be based on a fairytale but this one was a bit too fantastical for me and I would have preferred something a little more realistic.

It was an entertaining read though and I would like to explore the genre further to see how this book compares with others.
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on 31 August 2012
I was really looking forward to this book, I had it on pre-order. I adored Eloisa James' previous books in this series. I did like this book, with the twists and turns. I did read it all in one sitting and it did keep me gripped. But I felt that the ending was hastily put together to give a happy ending. Theodora and James were great characters, well rounded and believable. They had a great dynamic together. It was a bit weird to hear they had grown up like brother and sister and then suddenly because James' father demanded they marry suddenly they lost the brother/sister bond and it turned romantic. But I got on board with this plot device because of the way it was written.

My biggest problem with this book is the ending. I felt that the characters deserved a much better ending. To me it felt rushed and quickly cobbled together to give it a happy ending. I know it's romance and they always have a happy ending and it was obvious that James was going to come back. The problem I had was that after abandoning Theodora, James came back after 7 years and he was forgiven within 2 days. When he left, he had hurt Theodora and then he stayed away for 7 years having affairs with his "mistresses", he even admitted this to her. Theodora on the other-hand had stayed faithful. So when he came back not only had he hurt her but he had betrayed her as well. But all was forgiven because they had a bath and had sex. He should have had to build back the trust through talking to her and proving himself to her not just through 1 sex scene. I felt that maybe the book was getting too long and the ending was condensed down to make it end sooner.

This could have been a brilliant book, having said all of this it is worth a read and I did enjoy parts of the book!
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on 29 August 2012
I had been eagerly awaiting the release of this book like so many I expect and I was not disappointed, it is a fairytale and not real life, so what if it would unfold a little differently in real life? Eloisa has a way of writing her characters so that they come off the page and into your heart, and I can only say I wanted to hear more and not less of these two.

Both Theo and Jame's story gave insight into their feelings and they both knew they were thrown into a marriage too soon. A marriage that once in, opened their eyes to each other, but lack of self esteem is the root of all evil as they doubted the feelings of the other. In real life, this has a lot to answer for and I think I could have read a more in depth story which looked at how they both grew up during their time apart and allowed time for their journey back to each other. I think however the same end would have to come and you all know they have to make it in the end..

I am now eagerly awaiting another Ms James long till the next one?! Oh, and make it as long as you like :)
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on 13 September 2012
I'm not quite sure what to make of this book. I picked it up after I'd read a book which had disappointed me and was immediately captivated. Theo/Daisy and James were such engaging characters and although their progression from faux brother and sister to a pair of horny love-birds may have bit a bit quick, I thought it worked given that they're very young (she's seventeen, he's nineteen) and that their discovery that they fancied each other was so fast as to be a novelty.

Daisy's anger and sense of betrayal when she finds out that James married her under orders from his father is completely understandable, especially given all the name-calling she's endured since her marriage, and her own insecurities. It also makes sense that she would throw James out on his ear.

That scene was absolutely gut-wrenching and I was desperate to find out how the author was going to fix it and bring them back together.

But that was when things started to fall apart for me. I didn't so much mind the fact that the H&H were separated for a time, but the idea that James became a pirate/privateer, even given the circumstances in which it happened, and then stayed away for seven years just didn't make sense. And then that business with the head-shaving, the tattoo and the re-invention as Jack Hawk... I suppose one's view of that depends on whether one finds shaven-heads and facial tattoos attractive, and personally, I don't. And I'm sure that had an impact on my reaction to the second part of the book.

Things picked up a bit when James and Theo were reunited, but once again, something didn't feel quite right. The reconciliation happened too quickly, I think. After seven years away, Theo has a right to feel angry, and to make James suffer a bit - but she doesn't, and they seem to have resolved everything between them in one night of passion! I would have preferred a longer time-frame and to have seen Theo and James make necessary adjustments in their daily lives, as well as learning how Theo starts to unbend and regain her sense of fun.

The Ugly Duchess feels almost like it's two different stories tacked together. The first part worked really well, but the second was patchy. Overall, a 3.5 star read for me.
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on 4 September 2012
I love Eloisa James novels and own just about all of them, so when I saw the Ugly Duchess was coming out I pre-ordered a copy, and spent a days waiting for my email saying that it had been dispatched...though I knew the book hadn't even been realised yet! So when I did get my copy I set aside the book I was reading and started the Ugly Duchess and too start with I was really into the story, but when James left then returned seven years later it was if she only had so many words to finish the story so seven years worth of anger and history was sorted between Theo and James through one night in bed, and boom they lived happily ever after.

I enjoyed the book, but maybe a over descriptive blurb which had me waiting for adventures on the high seas that didn't appear, and a rushed ending, pushed the Ugly Duchess down my list of "read agains"
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on 15 October 2012
I spotted this book in a supermarket whilst holidaying in Florida and was intrigued by the story's blurb, so checked the price for the Kindle publication, and found that the actual book in the USA was cheaper to buy, so I did! I'm glad I did buy the book, as I would have been very disappointed had I purchased it at its full price for the Kindle edition! As previous reviewers have said, this is a book of two halves. I couldn't put the book down for the 'first' part, but was very disappointed with the 'second' part, which did drag a bit and then, when it came, the ending was rather too rushed for my liking. Still, having said all that, I did enjoy the story-line. One thing that did annoy me though, was the use of the word 'diapers' - very American - instead of 'nappies' - very English!
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on 18 January 2013
I have to agree with other reviewers when I say it was a bit like reading two different books. I know this is supposed to be a sort of fairy tale and they are fantastical and fast paced but I didn't even like the characters in the second half.
The relationship between Theo and James is very sweet and I liked how they got married and how they acted around each other, there is some funny banter with them. In the second half James comes back as a pirate and is constantly described as a huge savage, to be honest Griffen from 'Seduced by a Pirate' is pretty much described in the same way. The ending is nice, a happily ever after, but felt rushed and Theo forgives him too easily. If you like Eloisa James it is worth picking up but I didn't enjoy it as much as her other books.
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on 2 October 2014
I found this book very interesting. Of course once again Eloise delivers a masterpiece in romance, the love that develops between the James and Theodora is gradual and not recognised until pushed together by the duke. I love the strength of Theodora, I admire her for how tough she is, and has to be. The portrayal of James is that of a flawed man - which I love. All to often in romance books the heroes are too good to be true, they lack the human qualities such as making mistakes. James makes mistakes and it develops him as a character worthy of a strong female counterpart.
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on 4 December 2012
This is a great story which demonstrates the old adage pride goes before a fall for our two love birds. In this book Theo our heroine marries her first love and friend but sadly all is not as it seems and she discovers true love was not the reason James married her. The story is then told of their journey to find each other. This book is very well written and the characters well developed. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish and can't wait to read it again.
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