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Olivia Lytton, not titled but of 'good stock' has been engaged to be married to a future duke, the son of her father's best friend, from the time she was 5. She cares a great deal for Rupert. He's a sweet, good-natured man, even if he isn't all that he could be mentally-speaking. Which makes her attraction to Tarquin ('Quin'), the Duke of Sconce problematic. The fact that he is the suitor her parents wish for her sister, Georgiana, is even more problematic. But worst of all is the fact that the attraction doesn't seem to be one-sided...

Eloisa James's novels are extremely well-written, engaging, and provide a wealth of accurate and fascinating historical detail. They're romances, but fresh, intelligently written, articulate romances whose author isn't afraid of dealing with some difficult issues... and all without becoming smug/preachy. So for me to find myself not thoroughly enjoying one of these books was a big disappointment.

The fairytale theme as a plot device almost seems tacked on as an afterthought, instead of providing the promised reworking of a classic tale. Indeed, the book seems to be suffering from a bit of an identity crisis, including a departure into romantic adventure territory (in the fashion of The Scarlet Pimpernal) towards the end - a change of scene and pacing which sees some interesting characters and plot lines being thrown by the wayside. A real shame as in earlier novels, such as the Duchess sequence and the Essex sisters novels, an array of secondary characters got to play out various aspects of their stories (e.g. Rafe's alcoholism; Esme and Sebastian's relationship; Tuppy and Carola's revived marriage). To me, this felt as though two novels had been awkwardly and belatedly spliced together and forced. Either had potential if properly seen to fruition - but neither had time to properly play out.

It's not a bad novel, but it's a long way from the best by this writer.
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on 21 April 2012
This is rather a weird read. It has the bawdiness of an eighteenth century novel. All the characters have comic names, and it often decends into farce. I suppose the best description of it would be a romp. I think the author is trying too hard, most of the characters are deliberate caricatures and it is difficult to get engaged in the book. In fact it all very silly and tiresome.
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From the minute she was born it has been Olivia's destiny to become a duchess - she has been promised by her parents to marry Rupert, the future Duke of Canterwick. Alongside her twin sister Georgiana she has been trained to be the perfect duchess but it was always Georgiana who excelled in their classes. Olivia is too loud, too crass and too curvy to be a "proper" lady. She isn't thrilled about being promised to Rupert, he is 5 years younger than her and due to a lack of oxygen at his birth he acts even younger than his age, but he is a nice boy and she does care for him.

Quin is looking for a wife who will be the perfect duchess, after marrying once for love only to have it end in disaster he is now determined to marry for more practical reasons. In fact he is happy to let his mother chose his new wife to make sure he doesn't make the same mistake again. When Georgiana is selected as one of his potential brides and Olivia accompanies her to stay with Quin and his mother things get rather complicated. After all Georgiana is most suited to become his duchess but for some reason Quin can't take his eyes off of Olivia and the attraction definitely isn't one sided.

I never normally read reviews for books that I have on my to read pile but I made a mistake and stumbled across a couple of pretty negative reviews for The Duke is Mine. So Despite the fact that I really loved the first two books in the Happily Ever After series I was wary about even picking this one up. I'm glad I put my reservations to one side though because I did really enjoy the story, I loved the relationship between Olivia and Quin and would have missed out on a treat if I hadn't given it a try. Olivia and Quin are perfect for each other, she brings out his more playful side and teaches him to laugh and have fun again while he helps to tone down her most outlandish behaviour (in public anyway!).

I've seen complaints that Olivia makes fun of Rupert because of the issues with his mental health and I can kind of see where they are coming from. There was a section where she was talking to Georgiana and they were saying some pretty mean things but I think Olivia was just sounding off her disappointment to the person she was closest to. Whenever anyone else spoke of Rupert in front of her she always defended him fiercely so I can forgive her for her private conversations with her twin sister. There was another part that made me slightly uncomfortable but that was down to the actions of Olivia and Rupert's parents who I felt behaved despicably.

Overall I was enjoying the banter between Olivia and Quin far too much to not love the story. The Duke is Mine is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea, it didn't seem to follow the story line of the original tale quite as closely as the first two books did but the main elements were all there and it was enough to make it recognisable. I think Olivia and Quin are actually my favourite couple from the series and I can't wait to get hold of The Ugly Duchess when it is released later this year. If you are a fan of historical romances and you enjoy a good fairytale retelling then you can't go wrong with this series. I'm definitely a fan of Eloisa James and am planning on checking out some of her other series as well as this one.
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on 21 April 2012
I absolutely love these novels I am really enjoying the Authors interpretation of the old fairytales and her development of characters is brilliant. In this book our heroine Kate is engaged to be married to a man she barely knows and is barely into adulthood. He is however a Duke! She is introduced to our hero when her sister is invited to interview to be his wife. The story is excellently written and will keep you well entertained throughout.
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Olivia Lytton's whole life has been tailored to one goal - marriage to a duke. She's always known that one day she will be the Duchess of Canterwick. Except her bridegroom is five years younger than her, and sadly not right in the head. But if he'll make a bad duke, Olivia knows she'll be a worse duchess. She's too buxom, intelligence and witty, not to mention fascinated by bawdy jests. Positively vulgar!

Thankfully her twin sister Georgiana is every inch the lady. Which will make her the perfect match for the Duke of Sconce. Except this cold, intelligent duke can't take his eyes off Olivia - and she feels just the same. But with the duke's mother picking out his bride and Georgie claiming Sconce is perfect, how will Olivia ever find her own happy ending?

Thank goodness! Eloisa James has finally returned to heroes who respect their heroines. I've always loved how EJ's different heroes handled falling in love, until her last three, who all slept with a gently bred, unmarried girl and then refused to marry her. Not so with Quin. True, he spends plenty of time fighting his attraction - with good reason - but once he succumbs, he goes all the way. What a relief.

Elsewhere Olivia is an interesting heroine. I'll admit I found her constant wit pretty boring to begin with. The way she treats Rupert (to his face, at least) made me think differently, and I liked her best when she was defending him to others (less so when she's talking about him with Georgie). I also liked how she brought out a different side in Quin. I didn't like him much at first either, but he definitely grew on me. I loved how his and Olivia's relationship developed.

However, the start is a bit shaky and the end turned into a bit of a farce. It might have contained the fabled mattresses, but after what went on in the middle I found it a little too silly. Then there was Rupert, poor Rupert. I couldn't help wondering and worrying about him throughout the story, which distracted me the whole time. Then there was Georgie of the ever-changing moods. Talk about a personality switch!

So in all, for me this was a mixed bag. A wonderfully romantic middle with an intriguing hero and heroine, but with a slow start and a silly end. Still, it restored my faith in EJ's heroes. Next up, The Ugly Duchess. Should be interesting.
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on 12 September 2012
ok here is the issue i have with this book if we are going for----- doesnt matter how fat you are i love you theme---- fine!!but what clashes by my understanding is, why did the duke who fancied plump, keep himself so fit???? and boasted how he liked to do so????? plus why do the other ladies who are not overweight in this story have to be bashed for not being so ????? and this is a view from a not so thin girl not fat but not thin!!!
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on 8 July 2016
This story is a wonderful retelling of the princess and the pea. Full of forbidden intimacy between a betrothed woman and a duke who's mother has devised the perfect set of tests to find the perfect duchess. The tests aren't to be taken by the older sister, rather the younger. Well written and easily lovable Eloisa James has hit the button right with this retelling. Bring on the next book!
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on 31 December 2011
Amusing Regency variation on the original? I think not.
Unfortunately, the opening chapters of this strained my patience to the breaking point. I rarely leave a book unfinished but this annoyed me on so many levels that I confess I gave up within 24hrs of the sisters' arrival at the Duke of Sconce's country house.
I have enjoyed many of Eloisa James' previous books, as they are light hearted, amusing romps with fairly accurate historical/cultural settings. I also appreciate that it is supposed to be a retelling of a fairy tale but really ...
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on 16 September 2014
Great story. The characters are so real that one can fancy one is present - and would love to interrupt, cheer, or just 'arrr..... there, there....."
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on 29 December 2011
I really enjoyed this book, the third in Eloisa James' Happily Ever After Series, coming after A Kiss At Midnight (Happily Ever After 1), and When Beauty Tamed The Beast (Happily Ever After 2) And with The Ugly Duchess (Ducking) coming next. The book follows the story of Oliva, who is most decidedly not the perfect princess, or duchess, but who has been engaged to be one since birth, her sister Georgiana, who is perfect in every way Olivia is not, and yet still lovely, and Quin, the borderline Aspergers suffering duke, who has shut off his heart to love, and is letting his mother choose his next bride. Which brings the reader to ... the PEA. Without having an actual Pea under several mattresses, this book has both challenges to find the perfect duchess, set by Quins mother, the Dowager Duchess of Sconce, and bumpy mattresses.

While the plot was slightly flawed, with Olivia and Quin only knowing each other for three days before being completely in love, knowing that they want to be together forever, and risk their lives for each other; The characters and the story line in this book were exactly what readers of Eloisa James would expect, warm, funny and draws you in till you cant bear to put the book down for a second! The Happily ever after sequence is not in order, just sharing the common theme of adapting fairy tales with a twist! My favourite being When Beauty Tamed the Beast. Definately worth a read whatever your taste in books, every one loves a happy ever after!
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