Review: The Ugly Duchess

Reviewed by Jen

This book pushed my buttons in a bad way.  I know many people enjoyed it. Most were able to get over the things that got stuck in my craw.  But it did not work for me at all.

I had problems from the very beginning. James and Theodora grew up together. Theo had been taken in as ward of James’ father. They were essentially raised as siblings.  Unfortunately, Daddy Dearest lost all of his money in bad investments and some of Theo’s dowry too. If anyone were to find out, he could go to prison. So he forces James to propose to Theo to hide the crime and legally get his hands her remaining funds.  James cares for Theo and knows what he doing is wrong, but he does it anyway.

I thought this dynamic was kind of squicky. Rather quickly, though, James begins to have less than brotherly feelings towards Theo and their marriage is the real deal.  Until Theo finds out why he proposed.  She is heartbroken and orders him away.  James takes her demand seriously, heading to the high seas, where he spends the next seven years as a pirate.

That’s right. I said SEVEN YEARS.  He leaves her the entire responsibility of running his estate and getting it out from under his father’s debts.  He leaves her to deal with his father’s death alone… and then her own mother’s passing as well. Not to mention that she is left to shoulder the cruel moniker of the “Ugly Duchess,” she was given by all the newspapers from the day they wed.  They had been married only two days before he left her, and her humiliation was heartbreaking.

In her husband’s absence, Theo remakes herself. She ends up very successful and the height of fashion. She moved on with her life, but in a very closed-off way. James broke something inside her and what remained was icy and distant.  It was just as she was preparing to have him declared dead that James returns.  He has decided he wants her back and somehow he thinks he is entitled to it. Despite his lies to get her to marry him. Despite the fact he abandoned her. Despite the mistresses he took while he was gone.

Yes. Mistresses. And he has no problem with the fact that she knows it. He even talks to her about them, about how he considered their marriage over.

This was the point that I was ready to stop reading.  I didn’t even want them to work it out.  I didn’t want him to be redeemed.  I just wanted to rage.  This is not ok. You can’t go around shtupping other women in your randy pirate life then come back and say no other man will ever touch your wife. You can’t consider your marriage over, yet still consider it valid when it suits you.  You can’t make me like you again.

Unfortunately, I can’t say Theo holds onto her anger quite the same way. To the contrary, one nice bath and a couple of hours naked and all seems forgiven. Let’s reiterate the seven years part. And the mistresses part. No. Just no.

Rating: D+

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Ugly Duchess
by Eloisa James
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Avon


  1. I also had lots of trouble with it. Such high expectations and some points I was disgusted with it.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  2. Amen.

    I got sick to my stomach reading this book and the double standard of him sleeping around while she was expected to be alone had me spitting mad.

    She made him grovel some but I never thought it was enough – I didn’t even want them to get back together and he never seemed sorry enough for what he put her through.

    He was upset with his daddy so he became a pirate?? Waaaaa. Asshole lol

    Yes, I still have pent up aggression toward this book.

  3. I’ve been debating about this book and I think you very nicely stated why I won’t enjoy it. I gotta love the characters (even if they are villains) in order for me to like the book. I could sense your frustration so thanks for saving me from the same feelings.

  4. Jeeezus!!! What kinda romantic escape fantasy is this? Noooo, thank you.

  5. I completely understand your rage over this one, that’s IRREDEEMABLE. 7 years?!!! No. Way.

  6. Wow, this book sounds like a hott mess! I am intrigued by the fact that he comes a pirate, but I don’t think that’s enough for me to pick this one up.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.