I enjoyed it, but I think many romance readers will like it even more than I did.
Summary via Goodreads:
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; it’s scandalized by their separation.
Now James faces the battle of his lifetime, convincing Theo that he loved 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—or War.
You see, pirates simply don’t appeal to me. If there ever was a pirate that would, I’m sure it would be this one. He has a sense of morality, and he sounds attractive enough (and during his time away as pirate, he grew several inches in every direction. That’s right, he even grew taller). I just like my guys nerdier, I guess.
I very much enjoyed the first part of the novel, as their friendship is set up, as each character is introduced, and as the “Ugly Duckling” connection is made clear.
Even the beginning of the marriage, the reasons for it, and the clear picture they are both too young for it, played well for me.
The reasons for their separation, and what they both did worked as well (as part of the story. Not as something I’d want to experience). It all worked right up until the whole pirate thing.
I did enjoy Theo’s journey, particularly when taken with a bit of fairy tale shine on it. Everything that happened had its roots in who she was at the beginning of the book. No magic wands were employed, she was simply able to become the beautiful swan she’d always been– not by becoming a conventional beauty, but by developing her own style.
But James? Well, I think there are many readers that will enjoy his journey far more than I did.
As always with Eloisa James, the writing was fantastic. As usual, I’ll look forward to her next book.
Narrator: Susan Duerden had a very pleasant voice that fit the story very well. She did a great job with the book.
Production: No issues, no extras.
Print vs. Audio: I do think that Susan Duerden’s narration adds to the fairy tale feel of the book. However, it has the same potential issue for me as most romance audiobooks do– I feel very strange listening to the sexy scenes in public. There are only a few in this particular book, and the timing worked out fine for me this time. That’s the only hesitation I have in recommending audio as the best way to consume this particular book.
I received this book for review from the publisher. Thank you, Harper Audio!