Wednesday, April 18, 2012
The Duke Is Mine- Eloisa James
I first found Eloisa James when I was working for Hawley Cooke Booksellers. At the time, it was my job to shelve the romance section, which I did, rather unwillingly. I hadn't read romances in years and had developed the mindset that many have toward it, thinking it to be low class garbage. I was an avid staff reviewer and generally had at least one pick in the monthly newsletter, so one of the owners came to me and requested that I start reviewing romances. He said a lawyer friend of his had told him that she always felt like she was being looked down on when she bought them, and he wanted to try to change the perception of them. Well, I couldn't really say no to the man who signed my paychecks, so I looked over the section and took a handful of books home. Honestly, I chose half of them by the covers. One of them was by Eloisa James, and I originally picked it up becasue the cover had a lot of purple on it. Dumb reason, smart move. I was so enthralled, once I started reading it that I went back to work and asked our inventory manager to order at least 3 copies of each of the books this author had out. (I think there were only 3 of 4 at the time)
Anyway, the last few years, Ms James has taken to adapting classic fairy tales to her Regency romance style. The Duke is Mine is the story of Olivia, who by all accounts is NOT the thing, but is doomed to be a duchess because of an agreement made by her father and an old school chum. Her much younger fiancee is hapless, and because of an accident during his birth, viewed as a general, albeit sweet natured, idiot. He insists on being allowed to go of to war before their marriage. Olivia, in turn, is packed off to the countryside with her sister who is now being considered as a prospective bride for another Duke. The problem is that he and Olivia wind up falling in love.
Because it's a romance novel, there is a happy ending. It doesn't get there easily, but is quite satisfactory. And a little bit tear-jerking. I was reading it on my kindle while flying cross-country to visit my cousins, and quite startled the man seated next to me when I started sobbing at what happened to poor Rupert, the original Duke. It doesn't give much away to tell you that he does die, but it's how he dies that made me cry. There are elements of The Princess & The Pea, and I think the Ugly Duckling makes a showing as well. Read it for yourself and see what you think.