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3.9 out of 5 stars19
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 30 May 2013
Although I have Eloisa James' Fairy Tales series on my TBR list and I prefer not to read series out of order Once Upon a Tower was only the second book in the series I have read, saying it so those who fear not having read the previous books is a prerequisite know that the books can be read as complete standalones.

Once Upon a Tower was my favourite Eloisa James novel to this day. It was fun, sexy with both the heroine and hero being characters I could like.

Edith (yep, had a hard time accepting that such a beautiful fairy-like heroine had such an old name - but was glad to see I wasn't the only one as both the hero and heroine disliked her un-musical name) is a young and beautiful woman who knows her duty: she'll marry the man of her father's choosing and does not have fancy ideas about marriage and romance. It was interesting to see such a rational and level-headed heroine, who accepted her fate and wanted to make the most of it by laying down the rules of their life together once they got married. Edith wanted to maintain her independence and personal space, while her groom had more romantic notions: he wanted to enjoy his wife, he wanted them to share their hearts and bodies, to live happily. Once again the reversal of roles in that Gowan was the more romantic, passionate one while Edith the rational one made for an interesting and rather unusual set-up.

Edie was a very likeable heroine. Though she was innocent she wasn't naive, she had witnessed his father's marriage and knew she didn't want hers to be full of drama and heartache and so she planned to have a rational partnership with no strong feelings and emotions running high. Once again Eloisa James gave us an unusual pairing because Edie's step-mother was a still young and flirty woman in her 30s, and she was the colourful social butterfly to Edie's sedate and serious, rationality. (Edie's only passionate trait was her music, that was the love of her life.)

Gowan was a dream come true, he was a passionate, warm-hearted and honourable man. *sighs* He was a Scottish Duke (yum!), very manly and sexy (double yum!), who remained a virgin, because seeing his parents' marriage deteriorate with countless unfaithful adulterous liaisons he wanted to save the act of lovemaking something true and pure, something that had sense and substance and wanted to share it someone who mattered not just a barmaid. And so he wants to share it with his wife, the woman he came to yearn for and he can't wait to love her the way he wants to.

The problem is that it is painful for Edie and she doesn't enjoy it. What enjoy, she suffers through it and not wanting to cause problems in their newlywed status she fakes her pleasure and perpetuates a lie, which once is unveiled slays Gowan's self-esteem and self-respect.

Verdict: Once Upon a Tower is Eloisa James' retelling of Rapunzel, and although we have the tower and the prince climbing it up (twice) as well as the golden haired maiden, it is very much a story of its own, so bravo to Eloisa James for building her beautiful and witty historical romance around a fairy tale but not letting the fairy tale overpower her story. Both Edie and Gowan were wonderful characters and I loved their interactions, especially the wit and humour in their correspondence, and how their relationship progressed slowly, how they had to get to know each other before falling head first in. At times Edie's stepmother and her drama and tears frustrated me and I would have wished for a different ending/resolution as it wasn't to my taste, but Once Upon a Tower is a lovely fairy tale retelling that I'm sure I'll be re-reading soon.

I give Once Upon a Tower 4.5 stars!

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 6/10 - I loved the story until the very end
Cover: 9/10
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on 28 November 2014
This review was written for 'The Review Diaries'.
You can read the full review here:

I love Eloisa James’ novels. They are witty, clever, and full of fantastic heroes and heroines just waiting to pull you into a slightly more romantic world. Whilst nothing will beat the ‘Desperate Duchesses’ series for me personally, James’ retelling of fairytales as regency romances has been inspired. I adored Cinderella (A Kiss at Midnight) and Beauty & the Beast (When Beauty Tamed the Beast) but there was something about this version of Rapunzel that just didn’t quite do it for me.

I read romance novels for escape when life becomes particularly problematic. I like to know that there is a safe formula that will ensure a happy ending (with a few bumps along the way) and a wonderful hero waiting to sweep the feisty and intelligent heroine off her feet before the last page.

So when I’m faced with a truly unlikeable hero it kinda puts a crimp in my plans.
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on 6 June 2013
I love Eloisa James and her books, but was very disappointed in this much awaited story. The characters (especially that of Gowan) were immature and a little irritating. The characters get together fairly on in the book, and spend much of the remainder of the time annoying each other (and me).

The last few chapters saved this from being 2 stars, and fingers crossed that Eloise's next offering raises the bar again!
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on 1 July 2013
I couldn't make myself finish it as it was so bad. I really do not like the Happy Ever After Series. It's all so contrived
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on 26 September 2013
Eloisa James is one of the best writers of historical novels but with a contemporary twist. Her books are always beautifully written; funny, engaging, intelligent and with enough spice to be hot. Her leading ladies are thoroughly modern in their outlook, so whilst I'm sure that they are not historically correct, they are highly enjoyable. Gowan is just brilliant. What begins as a stuffy, aristocratic character soon becomes a witty and then heart twistingly loveable man. I'm genuinely surprised by some other reviews saying its not up to her usual standards. Whilst not as good as the Ugly Duchess, I thought this much better than Seduced by a Pirate
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on 30 June 2013
But it did enthrall me as much as the last few fairy-tale romances Eloisa has written. Typically of Eloisa it was very romantic and very well written. I'm looking forward to her next offering in this series.However, I would have liked it to have been a little longer. I would have liked a longer period of courtship/wooing between the main characters. This is a personal preference as I found the love scenes a little akward and I think it would have been better if Gowan had romanced Edie more. Although, I know this is what Eloisa was probably trying to achieve in regards to the awkwardness of some of the love scenes. But still this is a very good book, typical of Miss James wonderful style of writing. It's not my favourite of the series but a nonetheless very enjoyable. My favorite is the Duke is Mine :)
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on 25 September 2013
Most of Eloisa James books are based around old stories but this went straight for the story and seemed a bit silly in places.
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on 19 August 2014
The whole story is a little slow which made it a bit difficult to finish. I have read two other Eloisa James books and I didn't enjoy this book as much as the others. The characters were not as engaging and although the story had some interesting parts it sometimes repeated itself. Also the tower did not pay much of a part, only appearing near the end of the book, therefore the story was a bit different to the one I was expecting after reading the title.
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on 16 August 2015
For some reason my blurb calls the male character Rhys but in the book he's called Gowan! Also there are too many America phrases people in Regency Britain wouldn't use peppered throughout the book, like the word "tardy", which spoils it, really. I'd say Eloisa James needs to actually review her books before she published them! That, or learn to do her research properly! Or just stop writing books set in a country she clearly knows nothing about!
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I did like this novel, but I've preferred others in this series. I think it probably didn't help that Rapunzel isn't my favourite of fairy tales, and it did take a while to get to the tower (to the point where I was wondering how it could be based on Rapunzel if she didn't go and live in a tower). I still enjoyed it - I liked the leading characters and the strong role of music throughout.
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