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The Ugly Duchess (Fairy Tales) Mass Market Paperback – August 28, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 322 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


James's patented clever dialogue and complex characters make the unusual situation completely believable from setup to denouement Publishers Weekly (starred) Expertly infuses her latest fairy-tale love story with just the right ratio of tart wit and sensuality to create a hopelessly and hopefully romantic tale that will have James's fans swooning with delight Booklist (starred) With the latest in her fabulous fairy-tale series, James' twist on the Ugly Duckling sweeps readers into an uplifting love story with just the right amount of poignancy, tenderness, sensuality and pure romance to make readers sigh... Kudos to James for encouraging us all to be ourselves and grab what life has to offer RT Book Reviews The Ugly Duchess is a refreshing addition to the series. James always seems to write books that are 'unputdownable', but this book stood out ... this book will stay on my shelf as I can always count on Eloisa James to deliver a nice warm read, that leaves you with the belief that there is a 'Happily Ever After' ... Book Chick City --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

How can she dare to imagine he loves her . . . when all London calls her The Ugly Duchess?

Theodora Saxby is the last woman anyone expects the gorgeous James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, to marry. But after a romantic proposal before the prince himself, even practical Theo finds herself convinced of her soon-to-be duke's passion.

Still, the tabloids give the marriage six months.

Theo would have given it a lifetime . . . until she discovers that James desired not her heart, and certainly not her countenance, but her dowry.

Society was shocked by their wedding . . . and is scandalized by their separation.

Now James faces the battle of his life, convincing Theo that he loves the duckling who blossomed into the swan.

And Theo will quickly find that, for a man with the soul of a pirate, All's Fair in Love—and War.

If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $1.99 (Save 67%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.

Product Details

  • Series: Fairy Tales (Book 4)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; Original edition (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780062021731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062021731
  • ASIN: 0062021737
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (322 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A reviewer from USA Today wrote that she "found herself devouring [Eloisa's] book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Eloisa wrote her first novel after graduating from Harvard, but alas, it was rejected by every possible publisher. After she got a couple more degrees and a job as a Shakespeare professor, she tried again, with much greater success. Over twenty best-sellers later, she teaches Shakespeare in the English Department at Fordham University in New York City. She's also the mother of two children and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight.

For info about books, visit www.eloisajames.com Or ask a question on Facebook (where Eloisa spends entirely too much time): https://www.facebook.com/eloisajames And then drop in on her very romantic, very Eloisa Tumblr blog, a labor of love: http://eloisajames.tumblr.com

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book pushed my buttons in a bad way. I know many people enjoyed it. Most were able to get over the things that got stuck in my craw. But it did not work for me at all.

I had problems from the very beginning. James and Theodora grew up together. Theo had been taken in as ward of James' father. They were essentially raised as siblings. Unfortunately, Daddy Dearest lost all of his money in bad investments and some of Theo's dowry too. If anyone were to find out, he could go to prison. So he forces James to propose to Theo to hide the crime and legally get his hands her remaining funds. James cares for Theo and knows what he doing is wrong, but he does it anyway.

I thought this dynamic was kind of squicky. Rather quickly, though, James begins to have less than brotherly feelings towards Theo and their marriage is the real deal. Until Theo finds out why he proposed. She is heartbroken and orders him away. James takes her demand seriously, heading to the high seas, where he spends the next seven years as a pirate.

That's right. I said SEVEN YEARS. He leaves her the entire responsibility of running his estate and getting it out from under his father's debts. He leaves her to deal with his father's death alone... and then her own mother's passing as well. Not to mention that she is left to shoulder the cruel moniker of the "Ugly Duchess," she was given by all the newspapers from the day they wed. They had been married only two days before he left her, and her humiliation was heartbreaking.

In her husband's absence, Theo remakes herself. She ends up very successful and the height of fashion. She moved on with her life, but in a very closed-off way. James broke something inside her and what remained was icy and distant.
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I had to buy the "Ugly Duchess" the moment I could. I love Eloisa James's novels, as a rule. I did not love this one. Once the hero started lying and whimping out, I started losing the romance. Then she tells him to leave. And he does. For seven years.

I couldn't stand the long part in "Jane Eyre" where she goes wandering around with her distant cousins. I usually skip that part because when the heroine isn't with the hero, or even in the near vicinity hoping to catch a glimpse, romance novels get boring fast. This one went south in a hurry. I never thought, in a million years, Eloisa James could get boring. She did. The whole pirate thing was a dud. Even worse? Dying as one pirate and becoming...another pirate. Yep. That was really strange. And getting me nowhere close to a romance with our poor "ugly" heroine. No, she did not grow into a swan. That was major disappointment number two.

There is that great moment in when Audrey Hepburn walks in to the ball in "My Fair Lady" and she is a princess in the eyes of everyone. In "The Ugly Duchess," we have a chance for the same moment. But no, the crowd still thinks she's ugly. So ugly they rudely tell her how ugly she still is...after all those years of fashion work and new hair style and confidence, her husband still has to beat up everyone who calls his wife a dog. Not what I want from a romance novel. I want my swan to be a swan. To win them over with her style. So what if her features are strong? Angelica Huston has carried it off.

Then, on top of the fact that the pirate has lost his singing voice from a cut throat, which I have no idea why was necessary or part of the plot, he has decided to wear lots of brocade and gold cuffs. He also has decided that sex is a cure for a seven year gap in a two day marriage.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I was anticipating this release from James for the better part of a year. I pre-ordered it as soon as I read the description. But it was a horrible disappointment. 3 main issues:

1. Hero-Heroine were separated for something like 70 pages! Living separate lives across 7 years. Could have been more pages (I didn't count, because I skipped most of them), could have been less (it FELT like it was half the novel). I'm an avid romance reader and it's like a huge no-no to separate the main protagonists for so long with no interaction whatsoever.

2. As the 2 characters developed apart from each other over 7 years, essentially turning into different people, it stretches beyond belief that they would still be in love with each other after so long with so much between them, as essentially two strangers. I'd stopped rooting for them 10 pages into reading about their separation.

3. The final chapters of their reunion defies reality! Suddenly, after so long, as two strangers, sex solves everything. In one night. Just a couple of days after the husband returns after a 7-year absence.

Truly I expected so much more from James. I don't think I will ever buy another of her novels after this one.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have been "fairy-taled" to death now, Ms James, and yet we still have the Rapunzel story in TWO TO TANGLE coming summer of 2013. More fool I if I read that, because, ever since her retelling of "The Princess and the Pea" in The Duke Is Mine, I've had the feeling that Eloisa James (aka Mary Bly, tenured associate professor of English Literature at Fordham University) is laughing at her readers all the way to the bank. And we keep coming back for more of her abuse.

Now, I don't mind that the story is unrealistic. If you're reading the retelling of a fairy tale, why on earth would you expect realism? I do mind the vagueness of the underlying fairy tales in James' books, especially in the last two. She's pretty loosey-goosey with the stories.

The writing is quite entertaining. Eloisa James is one of our better romance writers, more's the pity. So this is well written and kinda fun to read, but, holy heck, the two main characters...did they really deserve a story? Hero James and heroine Theo grew up together and were really tight best friends. Until the day James' irresponsible father reveals he has appropriated much of Theo's funds to pay off his own debts and now needs James to marry Theo to keep this little problem in the family.

So they marry and it turns out they just may love each other. But 2 days after the wedding Theo finds out James was compelled to marry her and, angry, hurt and upset, she throws him out, saying she never wants to see him again. OK, here the problems began for me. James takes her at her word. He doesn't try to make things right. He just up and leaves for seven flipping years!
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