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Review: The Duke is Mine, Eloisa James

the duke is mineCarrying on with her series inspired by fairy tales, The Duke Is Mine puts a twist on the tale of the Princess and the Pea with this historical romance. Tarquin, the Duke of Sconce, is seeking the perfect bride – or at least his mother is on his behalf. Miss Olivia Lytton – not even a lady – is hardly the perfect choice, particularly as she’s been betrothed to another duke since her birth. While Olivia’s sister Georgiana fits the bill, Tarquin can’t take his eyes from curvy, funny Olivia – but how can they surmount her betrothal and his mother’s expectations in order to be together?

I liked the concept behind this book a lot, but it was one of those where too many obstacles fell away from the couple’s feet almost effortlessly so they could be together. In fact, I think it may be the first romance by Eloisa James I’ve had problems with, because I ordinarily love her books.

Let me explain; it’s not that I didn’t have a good time with this book. In fact, I flat out loved the first two thirds. It’s impossible not to feel for Olivia, a girl who describes herself as fat and loud and who tries to suck in her stomach so she doesn’t offend anyone, simply because she doesn’t fit the willow-thin, mouth-shut society-dictated stereotype. To make things worse, she’s not particularly fond of her future husband, but she considers herself resigned to her fate. In Tarquin’s eyes, she is curvy, hilarious, and immediately attractive. She’s a breath of fresh air amidst a crowd of stick-thin debutantes, one of the only romance heroines I’ve read about who does actually have a healthy amount on her bones and is decidedly not a wallflower.

After the couple do fall in love and all secrets are revealed, though, I really started to get frustrated with it. I felt as though all the romantic layers had fallen away so the couple could be together with an incredibly contrived situation to remove any problems. Obviously, many romance novels do this, but good ones shouldn’t make it so obvious.┬áIt’s the case of a perfectly good romance spoiled by the addition of a subplot that does incorporate the fairy tale but otherwise seems far, far too convenient. I wanted the couple to face what they’d done and come out stronger, not just escape without anyone ever actually realizing what had happened.

Anyway, if that’s what you go in expecting, I know you’ll enjoy this book; and for what it’s worth, it may have been my mood that made this so irritating to me at the time. But for a book that started out so well, I ended up disappointed. I’d recommend the other two fairy tale books instead, or at least to start, before you venture into reading The Duke Is Mine. Eloisa James really is a fantastic author, and it would be a shame to miss out on the rest of her work.

All book links to external sites are affiliate links. I received this book for free for review from Netgalley.

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5 comments to Review: The Duke is Mine, Eloisa James

  • I also don’t like it when a book peels away layers of difficulty too easily and makes situations fit into prescribed little boxes that may or may not be well deserved. I like the premise of this one, and I love that it stars a plus sized heroine, but after reading your reactions, I am not sure if I would read this one. Thanks for sharing your candid reflections on it with us. I appreciated it very much!

  • Wow, based on the cover, I would NEVER imagine this had anything to do with a fairy tale! It looks pretty risque on the cover- is it?

    • Meghan

      Yes, it does have its share of risque scenes, as pretty much all romances do. What I like about Eloisa James’s books is that she goes one step further and really rounds out her books with clever, creative additions. The fairy tale series is a great example of this. She’s a professor of Shakespeare as well as a romance novelist and you can tell.

  • I’ve heard so many different opinions about this book, it’s like there are several versions out there!

  • This book and this author both sound like something I need to check out. Even if there were som problems with an abrupt and too simplistic ending, the book does sounds like a breath of very entertaining fresh air.