The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James (Fairy Tales #3)
December 27, 2011
Reviewed by May
Favorite Quote: “I’d prefer a goddess who produces her own light rather than merely reflecting that of another.”
Olivia and her twin sister Georgiana have spent their entire lives being groomed to become a Duchess. Basically, their dad was best friends with the Duke of Canterwick at school and the two made a blood oath that Mr. Lytton’s eldest would marry the Duke’s eldest son and become a duchess.
Olivia was born minutes before her (not identical) twin, and thus spent her life thrust into training and all the knowledge one might ever want to know about becoming a Duchess. Unfortunately for Olivia, she neither wants the honor nor is interested in the much younger Marquess (future Duke). Not only is he barely 18, but his birth was a difficult one, and a lack of oxygen and his not breathing when born is believed to have caused some developmental issues. His father is very happy with Olivia however because of her good birthing hips and keen intellect he plans on training her to run the show and for all intents and purposes be the real Duke.
Georgiana has no dowry (all family money was spent on training and hopes of Olivia’s marriage) and no prospects, however the Duke of Sconce is looking for a wife and his mother wants to test and consider her as a second wife for her son. Olivia tags along as she has not much else going on until her fiancé returns from war victorious – a condition that he insisted upon before marrying.
What becomes immediately clear is that this Duke of Sconce is terribly smart, handsome, bright, and everything Olivia could ever dream of.
Justin snorted. “Quin couldn’t write a poem if Shakespeare himself prompted him.”
“I could!” Quin protested. He was feeling rather reckless, drunk on the sparkle in Olivia’s eyes. “My lady is a pink flower, and I’m… I’m a high tower. At least mine rhymes.”
Olivia’s little chuckle sent a rush of heat straight to Quin’s groin. “You surprise me, Your Grace. I hadn’t expected you to exhibit such metaphorical skill. Flowers and towers are surprisingly… evocative.”
If he’d understood her correctly, she had just flipped his pitiful metaphor into something quite erotic.
With the complicated set-up and the obstacles before them I expected a rocky journey for our hero and heroine. I was not sure how the author could write herself out of some of the sticky situations, betrothals, scandals, and all of the road blocks to this couple’s happily ever after.
I felt let down by this book because more than once the couple simply walked around the obstacle, as if it was not even there. This frustrated me as I did not see the point to making it so complicated if the roadblocks were just there for show and would be waltzed around. To explain further would require spoilers, which I do not wish to include in this review. I shall just say that the book, perhaps in true fairy tale form, just avoided that which it did not want to delve deeply into and instead kept charging forward and adding more characters and twists (including a scary bread baking woman whom I didn’t understand the point of) that kept the focus off the real issues at hand.
I also was deeply bothered by Olivia’s sudden changes when it came to her fiancé Rupert. When we are introduced, she is calling him a fool and generally hating him. Then suddenly after a conversation with his father and a scene where the two are shoved into a library (and told to have pre-marital sex, though Rupert doesn’t really get what sex is, nor is he capable) she feels more tender towards him, and defends him to others. She has known him and his limitations her whole life, so I do not understand why she would have the sudden change. When the story opens I believed this finace to be some “dumb man” type based on Olivia’s conversations with her sister. Instead we find out that he is mentally challenged, making Olivia’s mockery of him cruel considering that she will live a wealthy life of a duchess – hardly a hardship considering alternatives for a woman of her station.
Otherwise I really liked Olivia, which made it more upsetting to me that she would have this mean girl streak in her character. Moving past the issue of Rupert, Olivia was funny, smart, and her show-downs with her future mother in law were some of my favorite scenes.
The dowager regained her composure instantly. “Of course I am not frightened by canines. I merely find them to be unnervingly dirty. Given what I have heard of your fiancé, Miss Lytton, I think we can both agree that you may overrule his request. Put the dog in the stables. Begin, in short, as you mean to carry on.”
It was Olivia’s turn to stiffen. “I am quite sure you did not mean to speak of the Marquess of Montsurrey in such a manner, Your Grace.” And then, as the dowager opened her mouth Olivia added, “I myself would be reluctant to incur the censure of disloyalty, but I consider this of no account, since I am certain that you had no intention of making a suggestion that would be a wound to your credit, and give blemish to your courtesy.”
Quin didn’t even bother to untangle that; he could see that a gauntlet had just been tossed onto the flagstones at their feet. His mother held herself as rigidly as a soldier on parade, as did Olivia. They were of approximate heights and seemed to be displaying equal strength of will. And even more unnerving, each lady had a slight smile on her face.
She is no simpering miss, no wallflower. She is totally, uniquely, herself and she simply can not stop herself from a love of life or enjoyment of good jokes and company. Her lack of confidence when it comes to her own body, and how she responds to Quin felt realistic as she has never in her life had someone tell her she is beautiful, or that she is not fat. How he worships her and falls in love with her while charming, felt a bit sudden given his history. This fits with the whole flow of this story though, as we are thrown through this world where actions are swift and explanations lacking.
Now I do not have a strong recollection of all of the details of the original telling of the princess and the pea, however I do believe the author used that as a very general inspiration for this tale. I did indeed laugh out loud more than once and enjoyed my time with this story. The lack of connection emotionally, and the lack of resolution with the conflicts left me less than satisfied overall, and I could not overlook the less than smooth ending and handling of the obstacles in the way of the couple’s marital bliss.