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Heroine: Theodora ‘Daisy’ Saxby - Heiress, Fashionista
Hero: James Ryburn - Earl, Pirate
Theodora Saxby has been the ward of the Duke of Ashbrook, James' father, since her own father passed away. Growing up together, Theo and James have always had a brother-sister relationship. They were playmates, confidantes, and best friends since childhood. And probably would have remained so, if not for the Duke's spendthrift ways.
The Duke, having squandered away nearly everything not entailed, is in big trouble—out of desperation, he has stolen from Theo's dowry. To avoid scandal and possibly gaol, he forces James to marry Theo. After a battle of wills with his father - and a battle of ethicality versus his growing lust - James gives in.
And thus begins their torrid, angst-riddled, harrowing romance that spans time and distance… and changes both of them forever.
The Theodora of Part One is young and vivacious. She is angular where other girls are curvaceous. Unique-looking, perhaps, instead of beautiful. And completely held back by the ruffles and lace and constant hues of white. For her, marriage equals freedom of dress. If she could only dress herself, she could turn her uniqueness into elegance.
The James of Part One is hot tempered and restless. At nineteen, he is inexperienced in matters of the boudoir and the heart. He has no purpose, no drive, no goals. He's not interested in the ton or their drama. He's a bit of an unmoored boat. Drifting.
Together, the two of them are playful and passionate and curious. Every touch is new, every feeling is multiplied. I loved that they were pretty much on equal footing when it came to sex. Both very green and eager. It was sweet and tender.
And then it isn’t. The middle of the book was… gut-wrenching. There were parts that made my stomach flip and flop and turn sour. It was disheartening how easily they both simply gave up. It felt like Theo completely abandoned and forgot their decade of friendship… and James doesn’t even put up any fight. And it truly wasn’t easy to read about James’ infidelity, no matter how justified or understandable.
Once reunited, the Theodora of Part Two and the James of Part Two are very, very different from the beginning. Theo is now rigid and closed off. Set in her ways and nearly emotionless. James is rough and coarse and in control. Seasoned and scarred by the sea. It was frustrating and rewarding to see them rediscover parts of their past selves. Rediscover their friendship and their passion and their love.
And Eloisa James – hands down – writes the best epilogues. Might sound crazy, but I always look forward to them. This one was no exception. It warmed my heart and put a smile on my face.
The Ugly Duchess is another incredible installment in the Fairy Tales series. It is a sumptuous and sensual tale of young love growing into adult passion—with that special touch of whimsy (James does become a pirate, after all) that the series is known for.
She hesitated. “Is that a reference to the size of his male organ?"
"I'm afraid so."
"I should think small would be a benefit. I'm certain most women would prefer it. They should boast about those nicknames."
A little laugh exploded from his mouth. "Am I to take it that you're sore from last night?"
"Yes," Theo admitted. "I wish you had a periwinkle."
Thoughts While Reading:
35.0% - "Theo's wall of ice is allowing her to say some pretty cruel things."
57.0% - "This is tearing my gut up!"
100.0% - "Eloisa always writes the best epilogues."