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Editor’s Note

“A Winning Romance...”

Shakespearean influence abounds in this Regency-period romance. As the duckling-turned-swan heroine wins her prince’s heart, she’ll win yours too.
Scribd Editor

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.

Topics: London, Folk and Fairy Tales, Pirates, Second Chances, Friends to Lovers, Betrayal, Retellings, and Marriage of Convenience

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062197962
List price: $7.99
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horrible story. awful H. more
Relatively okay.

Another case for excusing men who are stupid, cheat on their wives, enjoy themselves to perdition and then expect all those things they aren't and never gave from their wives.

Of course, the woman forgives, forgets and is never bothered, finding an excuse for unfaithful and untrustworthy behaviour.more
loved the plot. Hate the characters. more
The middle got a little far-fetched with the pirate stuff (and I think we know how much I love pirates) but on the whole it was enjoyable. The structure was a little unusual but it worked for the story.more
Marriage matches for money are commonplace among the upper class. Except that Theodora Saxby thought she was being married for love and friendship... she grew up with James Ryburn, after all. But only hours after their speedy marriage she learns the truth: James only wanted her dowry. James flees, and suddenly she's the laughingstock of society.Years pass, the duckling turns into a swan, and James returns.... but can he convince his left-behind bride that he really does love her?I like James, but I resisted reading this for quite a while. The plot sounded tired and trite and didn't really appeal. Good thing I changed my mind. Theo's a kick, rigid as she is, and James turns out to be a bright boy after all.more
Technically, I should have hated this book. It has two of my most hated pet peeves in it. A lengthy separation between the main characters and adultery. Plus, I found the hero to be a bit pathetic at times, especially in the beginning and the heroine became a bit rigid and cold.

So, having said all that... I actually liked this book. Color me shocked! I think it must be a testament to Eloisa James's writing that I was able to enjoy a book with so many things I normally would hate.

This book is separated into two sections: Before and After. Before is how James and Theo come to be married. I enjoyed this portion quite a bit. It was refreshing to see a hero come into a marriage with extremely limited sexual experience. He and Theo were on pretty even ground. I also really enjoyed the banter between them.

The After portion starts after the moment that Theo realizes James's father pushed him in to marrying her. She sends him away and tells him never to return. And he actually leaves. (Hence why I wasn't a big fan of him.) James ends up becoming a pirate and Theo takes over running his estate... (not very plausible, but I went with it.) What follows is a rather angsty seven years. I honestly didn't see how they would ever work things out and so perhaps that is what made it so nice when they finally did.

In the end it was two extremely imperfect people that made MANY mistakes and somehow found out they were perfect for each other. So despite the fact that I wasn't a wholehearted fan of either of them, I still couldn't help relishing the fact that they found their way back to one another.more
I loved this book. It is written in two parts, with the first being up through the beginning of their marriage and the second after their separation and reuniting. Theo and James had grown up together as James's father is Theo's guardian. They were friends first and foremost. James has always cared for Theo but when he is ordered to marry her by his father, who has embezzled her dowry, he fears that it will destroy their friendship. Theo doesn't realize that what she feels for him is love until he kisses her for the first time, and then is so happy that they will marry. Everything goes along great until she finds out why James married her. At that point she throws him out of the house and tells him she never wants to see him again. Theo has always had some self esteem problems because she is not pretty. This gets worse when she is called "The Ugly Duchess" by the tabloids. James was in love with Theo from the time he was a teenager but didn't expect to do anything about it quite yet. He was furious with his father who had nearly bankrupted them with his idiotic investments and then his theft of Theo's inheritance. At only twenty years old, he doesn't have the ability to stand up to his father and goes through with the marriage. When it all blows up he is devastated, does as Theo asks and leaves England completely. I loved the way that they were so obviously in love with each other. James never agreed with the opinion that Theo was ugly, he always saw her as beautiful, though he could not convince her of that fact. They also made a perfect pair to plan how to make the estate profitable again. Theo is incredibly intelligent and frightfully organized. James has trouble concentrating on indoor things like accounts and so on (ADD?), but has an incredible ability to relate to people and see what needs to be done on the land.The second half of the book deals with their separation and reuniting. I won't say too much, so I don't give things away. Theo copes with her heartbreak by becoming even more organized and rather rigid. I wanted to shake her at times to wake her up. She has had to grow up rather quickly to deal with the fallout. James's departure also caused some real maturing on his part. He has had to learn to control his own temper and also to be able to do things he avoided before. He finally realizes that he still loves Theo and wants to win her back. The second half deals with his efforts, some of which are funny and some of which are romantic. I loved the man he became and how he won his duchess back.more
Loved this book. Great combination of strong heroine, but with her own insecurities, and a crazy, mixed-up hero. Fun, romantic story with lots of drama and misunderstandings. Very fun beach read.more
Split in two parts. Not entirely successful.more
I took another chance on a historical romance and this one was a delight. The characters of Daisy and Theo were strong and different and their story, while typical in the boy meets girl, boy marries girl under false pretenses,etc. plot, did have enough differences to make for compelling reading.Daisy was not a great beauty - at least to those who didn't really get to know her but she showed them. Theo knew soon after he married her for her money that she WAS the girl for him but didn't know how to tell her. Their time apart was slow reading for the most part but once they got back together the book really started to sing again. Although, one does love a dashing pirate now and then.I've not read any other of Ms. James's books but I am sure they would make for fun, fast reads just as this one did. I wouldn't hesitate to pick one up when I wanted an escape from the modern world and its worries.more
Read all 13 reviews

Reviews

horrible story. awful H. more
Relatively okay.

Another case for excusing men who are stupid, cheat on their wives, enjoy themselves to perdition and then expect all those things they aren't and never gave from their wives.

Of course, the woman forgives, forgets and is never bothered, finding an excuse for unfaithful and untrustworthy behaviour.more
loved the plot. Hate the characters. more
The middle got a little far-fetched with the pirate stuff (and I think we know how much I love pirates) but on the whole it was enjoyable. The structure was a little unusual but it worked for the story.more
Marriage matches for money are commonplace among the upper class. Except that Theodora Saxby thought she was being married for love and friendship... she grew up with James Ryburn, after all. But only hours after their speedy marriage she learns the truth: James only wanted her dowry. James flees, and suddenly she's the laughingstock of society.Years pass, the duckling turns into a swan, and James returns.... but can he convince his left-behind bride that he really does love her?I like James, but I resisted reading this for quite a while. The plot sounded tired and trite and didn't really appeal. Good thing I changed my mind. Theo's a kick, rigid as she is, and James turns out to be a bright boy after all.more
Technically, I should have hated this book. It has two of my most hated pet peeves in it. A lengthy separation between the main characters and adultery. Plus, I found the hero to be a bit pathetic at times, especially in the beginning and the heroine became a bit rigid and cold.

So, having said all that... I actually liked this book. Color me shocked! I think it must be a testament to Eloisa James's writing that I was able to enjoy a book with so many things I normally would hate.

This book is separated into two sections: Before and After. Before is how James and Theo come to be married. I enjoyed this portion quite a bit. It was refreshing to see a hero come into a marriage with extremely limited sexual experience. He and Theo were on pretty even ground. I also really enjoyed the banter between them.

The After portion starts after the moment that Theo realizes James's father pushed him in to marrying her. She sends him away and tells him never to return. And he actually leaves. (Hence why I wasn't a big fan of him.) James ends up becoming a pirate and Theo takes over running his estate... (not very plausible, but I went with it.) What follows is a rather angsty seven years. I honestly didn't see how they would ever work things out and so perhaps that is what made it so nice when they finally did.

In the end it was two extremely imperfect people that made MANY mistakes and somehow found out they were perfect for each other. So despite the fact that I wasn't a wholehearted fan of either of them, I still couldn't help relishing the fact that they found their way back to one another.more
I loved this book. It is written in two parts, with the first being up through the beginning of their marriage and the second after their separation and reuniting. Theo and James had grown up together as James's father is Theo's guardian. They were friends first and foremost. James has always cared for Theo but when he is ordered to marry her by his father, who has embezzled her dowry, he fears that it will destroy their friendship. Theo doesn't realize that what she feels for him is love until he kisses her for the first time, and then is so happy that they will marry. Everything goes along great until she finds out why James married her. At that point she throws him out of the house and tells him she never wants to see him again. Theo has always had some self esteem problems because she is not pretty. This gets worse when she is called "The Ugly Duchess" by the tabloids. James was in love with Theo from the time he was a teenager but didn't expect to do anything about it quite yet. He was furious with his father who had nearly bankrupted them with his idiotic investments and then his theft of Theo's inheritance. At only twenty years old, he doesn't have the ability to stand up to his father and goes through with the marriage. When it all blows up he is devastated, does as Theo asks and leaves England completely. I loved the way that they were so obviously in love with each other. James never agreed with the opinion that Theo was ugly, he always saw her as beautiful, though he could not convince her of that fact. They also made a perfect pair to plan how to make the estate profitable again. Theo is incredibly intelligent and frightfully organized. James has trouble concentrating on indoor things like accounts and so on (ADD?), but has an incredible ability to relate to people and see what needs to be done on the land.The second half of the book deals with their separation and reuniting. I won't say too much, so I don't give things away. Theo copes with her heartbreak by becoming even more organized and rather rigid. I wanted to shake her at times to wake her up. She has had to grow up rather quickly to deal with the fallout. James's departure also caused some real maturing on his part. He has had to learn to control his own temper and also to be able to do things he avoided before. He finally realizes that he still loves Theo and wants to win her back. The second half deals with his efforts, some of which are funny and some of which are romantic. I loved the man he became and how he won his duchess back.more
Loved this book. Great combination of strong heroine, but with her own insecurities, and a crazy, mixed-up hero. Fun, romantic story with lots of drama and misunderstandings. Very fun beach read.more
Split in two parts. Not entirely successful.more
I took another chance on a historical romance and this one was a delight. The characters of Daisy and Theo were strong and different and their story, while typical in the boy meets girl, boy marries girl under false pretenses,etc. plot, did have enough differences to make for compelling reading.Daisy was not a great beauty - at least to those who didn't really get to know her but she showed them. Theo knew soon after he married her for her money that she WAS the girl for him but didn't know how to tell her. Their time apart was slow reading for the most part but once they got back together the book really started to sing again. Although, one does love a dashing pirate now and then.I've not read any other of Ms. James's books but I am sure they would make for fun, fast reads just as this one did. I wouldn't hesitate to pick one up when I wanted an escape from the modern world and its worries.more
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