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Customer reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
The Ugly Duchess: Number 4 in series (Happy Ever After)
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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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on 21 September 2017
well-satisfied with book and delvery
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on 7 June 2017
Well written and absorbing
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on 11 September 2014
I absolutely loved this book, plenty of romance and the added bonus of a pirate who sees his wife as beautiful even if society doesn't.
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on 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 22 August 2016
I normally love Eloisa James but this book grated on my nerves. The heroine was pathetic, her husband betrayed her, cheated on her and disappeared for 7 years and she instantly forgives him.
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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 1 August 2016
In Eloisa James' fourth Ever After Novel we meet James Ryburn the only son to the Duke of Ashbrook who is forced to marry his closest friend and father's ward Theodora Saxby because his father has embezzled some of her dowry away to save some of the estates. Theodora is un-endowered in the chest area and is sometimes seen as a man even though she wears dresses and has long hair. When her life long friend James proposes to her (albeit kind of forced due to being found in a compromising situated) she couldn't be happier. Even when the papers dub her 'the ugly duchess' she doesn't really mind because her husband loves her... Or so she thought. When she overhears the duke and James talk abut her she learns the truth of her marriage and banishes booth men from her life with James begging her not to.

Seven years later and James has become a notorious pirate on the high seas albeit a humanist and honourable one but nothing can dampen his wish to go home and be with his wife. Whist James has been off playing pirate Theo has been busy making herself the talk of the ton and dragging the failing Ashbrook estates back to profit. When in the house of lords it is to be discussed about the 'death' of James since he'd be gone the required amount of time to pass it ion to his heir he turns up! Completely changed and makes Theo faint! In time he seduces her back into his bed and into her affections.

I give it 4 stars purely because Theo gave in too quickly but then again I think she never did stop loving James. I do like this tale and I'm glad this was the first book that pulled me into this enchanting world Eloisa has created.
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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 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 classic...how long till the next one?! Oh, and make it as long as you like :)
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