Author: Eloisa James

October 28, 2016

Review | The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

Review | The Duke is Mine by Eloisa JamesThe Duke Is Mine by Eloisa James
Series: Fairy Tales, #3
Publisher: Avon, December 2011
Pages: 367
Format: Paperback
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Destiny will be decided between the sheets in this all-new tale of The Princess and the Pea.
For Olivia Lytton, betrothal to the Duke of Canterwick—hardly a Prince Charming—feels more like a curse than a happily-ever-after. At least his noble status will help her sister, Georgiana, secure an engagement with the brooding, handsome Tarquin, Duke of Sconce, a perfect match for her in every way . . . every way but one. Tarquin has fallen in love with Olivia. Quin never puts passion before reason. And reason says that Georgiana is his ideal bride. But the sensual, fiery, strong-willed Olivia ignites an unknown longing in him—a desire they are both powerless to resist. When a scandalous affair begins, they risk losing everything—Olivia's engagement, her sister's friendship, and their own fragile love. Only one thing can save them—and it awaits in the bedroom, where a magnificent mattress holds life-changing answers to the greatest romantic riddle of all.

I’m not sure how I feel about The Duke is Mine. After falling for James’ other installments in the series, I was ready to love Olivia and her duke’s story. That isn’t quite what happened.

The other novels in the Fairy Tale series started with a bang, but The Duke is Mine took a long time to start. A long time. After reading page after page of dialogue between Olivia and her twin sister, Georgiana, I felt my interest waning. Then at Quin’s lackluster introduction to the story, I checked GoodReads to see if this installment was a dud. Surprisingly, reviewers raved about it. So I kept reading.

Although I am glad I kept reading, I wished The Duke is Mine picked up the pace much earlier. Until Olivia and Georgiana arrive at Quin’s home for his mother’s marriage competition (what else to call it?), the story slogged. It’s at Quin’s family home that both he and Olivia come alive.

All this said I loved Olivia’s feisty nature. She is stubborn as a mule but luckily more charming. Standing up to Quin’s mother, especially when she made no qualm about her perception of Olivia and her fiancee, must have been difficult, but she did it without a second thought. Her ability to find the fun in life was a quality lacking in not only Quin but society as a whole at the time.

Quin, on the other hand, needed to come alive much earlier to make a lasting impact. He was stuffy, aloof, and a little cold. Thankfully, James switches the narration between the two of them, giving us a chance to remember why we’re cheering for him. As his story comes out, it’s easier to see his kind, protective nature, but it would have been nice to have some explanation for his attitude earlier on.

My other issue with The Duke is Mine is the cheating. Olivia is engaged to another man. Quin’s mother has all but announced his betrothal to Olivia’s sister. It made it hard to hope for their romance when they were potentially hurting so many other people. I liked how James handled part of the situation, but View Spoiler ».

The romance was there, creating tension and atmosphere throughout the book. There were moments I loved and others I didn’t. The Duke is Mine might not have been my favorite of the series, but I enjoyed the rest.

3 Stars

Posted October 28, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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June 12, 2016

Review | My American Duchess by Eloisa James

Review | My American Duchess by Eloisa JamesMy American Duchess by Eloisa James
Publisher: Avon, January 2016
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
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The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford - an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés.
But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.
The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear: All is fair in love and war.

An accidental clandestine meeting with a dark stranger on a balcony. Twins caught up in a mix of rivalry and family drama. An American heiress who just can’t play by the ton‘s societal rules as much as she tries. When the Duke of Trent falls heads over heels for the mysterious American woman at the ball, he has no idea he’s just fallen in love with his twin brother’s new fiancee. But Merry isn’t just any heiress – she’s the one that could save them all.

For some novels to work, the reader must be willing to suspend a reality a little and believe what the rational mind wouldn’t. My American Duchess is not one of the stories. Sure, the chance meeting in the darkness of the balcony may have been a little contrived, but it’s James’ characters that brought it to life. Throughout the story each character transformation is made more real because of how her characters perceive and react to it.

I didn’t expect to like Merry, but after she determinedly frees a puppy in the park, I knew we were kindred spirits. Her stubborn, direct nature and blunt observations made me laugh and contrasted to the other fluffy ladies in the story. It’s the two brothers of the story that provide the most intriguing character journeys. Cedric, the younger twin, is what I would call a dandy. He’s all too interested in his own looks, appearances of others, and extremely judgmental, but charming. His brother, Trent, is his opposite. Broody, aloof, and slightly arrogant, Trent does his best to stay away from Merry, but he can’t shake his attraction to her. Watching how the two different men dealt with their relationship with the American heiress was fascinating.

I loved how the romance, while incredibly steamy, didn’t consist of just sex scenes. It had a mixture of anger, lust, and getting to truly know the other person as a whole, not just “wife” and “husband.” The dive into the dynamics of their marriage caught me much more than the initial courtship.

My American Duchess is a winner, both historical romance and otherwise. I loved everything about this book.

5 Stars

Posted June 12, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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January 13, 2016

Review | A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

Review | A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa JamesA Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James
Series: Fairy Tales #1
Publisher: Avon, July 2010
Pages: 370
Format: Paperback
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Miss Kate Daltry doesn't believe in fairy tales . . . or happily ever after.
Forced by her stepmother to attend a ball, Kate meets a prince... and decides he's anything but charming. A clash of wits and wills ensues, but they both know their irresistible attraction will lead nowhere. For Gabriel is promised to another woman—a princess whose hand in marriage will fulfill his ruthless ambitions.
Gabriel likes his fiancee, which is a welcome turn of events, but he doesn't love her. Obviously, he should be wooing his bride-to-be, not the witty, impoverished beauty who refuses to fawn over him.
Godmothers and glass slippers notwithstanding, this is one fairy tale in which destiny conspires to destroy any chance that Kate and Gabriel might have a happily ever after.
Unless a prince throws away everything that makes him noble...
Unless a dowry of an unruly heart trumps a fortune...
Unless one kiss at the stroke of midnight changes everything.

I wasn’t sure I would like A Kiss at Midnight when Kate’s stepmother announces her plan for Kate to impersonate her sister at her fiancee’s family ball. The idea seemed so ridiculous, especially when Mariana (stepmother) announced that Kate would don her sister’s wigs and take her dogs to complete her disguise. The fact that Kate and her sister don’t resemble each other at all doesn’t matter…?


It was a relief when Gabriel saw through her disguise almost instantly. If the whole novel was based on him believing this farce, I’m not sure I could have handled it. 


As for Gabriel, he is your typical heart-stopping tall, dark and handsome hero with royal blood. I didn’t quite understand his fascination with archaeology – it felt like that particular characteristic was thrown in to make him something beyond tall, dark and handsome. 


Kate herself was your typical (I hate that word, but it fits) Cinderella character with a little extra personality thrown in. She was stubborn (but not stubborn enough to reject the impersonation ploy), but not enough so to be engaging. 


The romance disappointed me on two levels and all in one scene: their love scene was just weird. I’ve never read anything like it, and hope not to do so again. Without giving anything away, it painted Kate as a malleable, spineless woman and Gabriel as an equally spineless man. Not the characters I’d hoped for in a fairy tale romance.


All this said, I loved the ending scene. James finally returned to the fairy tale magic and pushed her characters beyond. 


This wasn’t the fairy tale I hoped for: I wanted more character depth, a stronger plot, and a real romance scene, not…that. Although it didn’t quite make up for it, it ended well.

 

2 Stars

Posted January 13, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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December 21, 2015

Review | Three Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa James

Review | Three Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa JamesThree Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa James
Series: Desperate Duchesses #7
Publisher: Avon, March 2014
Pages: 376
Format: Paperback
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Having made a fortune, Thorn Dautry, the powerful bastard son of a duke, decides that he needs a wife. But to marry a lady, Thorn must acquire a gleaming, civilized façade, the specialty of Lady Xenobia India.
Exquisite, head-strong, and independent, India vows to make Thorn marriageable in just three weeks.
But neither Thorn nor India anticipate the forbidden passion that explodes between them.
Thorn will stop at nothing to make India his. Failure is not an option.
But there is only one thing that will make India his—the one thing Thorn can't afford to lose...
His fierce and lawless heart.

 

I had two distinct reactions to Three Weeks With Lady X.
 
What the hell?
 
and 
 
Oh, that was kinda cute
 
 
Let’s break it down.
 
 
What the hell?
 
The novel opens with a marriage proposal. Xenobia India St. Clair (my first wth) is staring at a  sweaty, odd peer of the realm who is kinda sorta offering marriage (yes, those are the correct terms), when his mother comes in the room and chases him away. India (thankfully she goes by India because I don’t know if I can bring myself to type Xenobia again) has created a business and reputation for interior design, which I found intriguing. Rarely does a woman have the means and ambition to create a life for herself in historical romances. This balanced India’s weird obsession with correct grammar out (second wth).
 
The opening scenes for Thorn just feel forced. It’s like James is trying to give us as much background as possible in this conversation with Vander, his longtime buddy, before thrusting him face first into the plot. It felt like I was being talked to about these two characters, not like I was there. 
 
Then Thorn turns out to be Tobias? A better intro to that particular plot point would have saved me paging back in the book to see if I missed something (third wth). 
 
The romance was fun after they had their first…encounter (I don’t know what else to call it that’s fairly PG), but in the beginning, it was just a bit awkward. Both lusted after the other, but spent half the time arguing, so it was hard to figure out what was going on.  
 
 
Oh, that was kinda cute.
 
Thorn discovers that a buddy from his past has named him guardian of his daughter, a girl named Rose (who is the sole reason I kept reading at a few points). Society was scandalized that he suddenly had a child, but I loved that he defended her. 
 
As India remodels Thorn’s new country estate for his intended (not betrothed, mind you), they wrote each other letters that were kinda cute. It created a banter and expectation for when they were back together. 
 
The romance really took after in the last third of the book, bringing the fairly complicated plot to a climax, and rather quickly. I wish there was there was more closure for the other characters involved besides India and Thorn – it would have felt so much more satisfying in the end. 
 
At the end of the day, this isn’t a reread for me. It felt too awkward and a bit forced in the beginning for me to fall into it, and when the pieces started to click, I wasn’t invested enough to think anything more than “That was kinda cute.”
 
3 Stars

Posted December 21, 2015 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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November 5, 2015

Review | When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

Review | When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa JamesWhen Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
Series: Fairy Tales,
Publisher: Avon, January 2011
Pages: 372
Format: Paperback
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Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty . . . Naturally, she's betrothed to a Beast.

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman.
Linnet is not just any woman.

She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love—in just two weeks.

Yet Linnet has no idea of the danger posed to her own heart by a man who may never love her in return.

If she decides to be very wicked indeed . . . what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?

I was in the mood for some light, fluffy romance when I picked up the book from the library. After getting hooked on Lyon’s The Collectors’ Society, I was in a fairy tale kind of mood, and the title got my attention. To be honest, I didn’t expect a lot from When Beauty Tamed the Beast. A little romance, a little drama, thank you ma’am. 

Um. No. 

This is not your typical historical romance novel. 

This is brilliant

I read this book in a day. One 24 hour period. All due to the magic of James’s characters. 

Linnet is not the fluffy heroine we’ve all come to know and (mostly) love. She’s kind of sarcastic, likes to tease, and isn’t so concerned with what proper society thinks of her, due to the fact said society thinks she’s pregnant with a prince’s child. Her sarcasm and wit as she battles with Piers is much more fun to read than the faint-hearted maidens that faint away all the time.

Piers, however, stole the show. With a quarter of the book left, I realized abruptly that Piers is Dr. House. Yes. A cranky, snarky, lovable doctor, complete with a cane and a limp. I already loved his character’s sarcasm, but with that revelation, I was in love. 

The narration was lovely: engaging and funny, but could turn serious when the drama ensued (and boy, did it). The side plot of Piers’ family relationships was nice, but the story would have been full without them. Linnet and Piers had such a strong chemistry, one that kept the story moving at a frantic pace and kept me reading well into the night.

5 Stars

Posted November 5, 2015 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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