Monday, January 2, 2012

The Duke is Mine, by Eloisa James

I love books that take their cues from fairy tales, and The Duke is Mine is one of those novels.  Using the idea of the Princess and the Pea, Eloisa James has created her own entertaining version of the classic fairy tale, with an additional twist here and there.

Olivia Lytton has been betrothed to Rupert, the future Duke of Canterwick since before she was born.  All her life has been dedicated to molding her and her twin sister Georgiana, into the perfect and proper duchess.  The problem, however, is that Olivia is witty, smart, and loves a good vulgar joke, while Georgiana is the epitome of virtue and propriety; better duchess material.  It is well known throughout the ton that dear Rupert is mostly addle brained, having stopped breathing at birth.  But before she can come to terms with being a duchess, Rupert decides he needs to bring glory to the Canterwick name on the battlefield, and leaves for France.  Olivia, though having spent most of her life ridiculing Rupert for his short-comings, becomes painfully aware of just how special Rupert is when they are forced together in order to ensure the future of the dukedom, or so their parents believe.  A chance invitation to the estate of the Duke of Sconce, issued by the dowager duchess in order to find her son a proper wife.  Georgiana, to be specific.

Quin, the Duke of Sconce lost his first wife and son while she was fleeing England with her lover.  Since then, Quin has sworn off all emotion, choosing to allow his life to revolve around mathematics (ick) and letting his mother choose his bride.  All was going as planned until Olivia arrives at the manor late at night, after their carriage turns over in the rain.  Immediate sparks fly when the two meet, and Olivia tries desperately not to succumb to her feelings for the man that is for all intents and purposes meant for her sister.  The dowager duchess takes an immediate dislike to Olivia, and instantly chooses Georgiana for her son's bride.  But who does Quin choose for himself?  A rendezvous in a tree house, and a trip across the channel to France to rescue a wounded war hero allow Quin to realize that the wall around his heart that went up with the betrayal of his first wife and death of his son was slowly crumbling as he battled his demons in order to have Olivia.

It's been awhile since I've been able to read anything for my own enjoyment, and not something on a syllabus, and I'm so glad I started with Eloisa James.  Time after time, she has proved her uncanny ability to create characters that you can relate with and cheer on until the very end.  Even her most despicable characters end up being likable (for the most part) at the end.  The Duke is Mine is a hilarious, sometimes bawdy, fresh take on the beloved story of the Princess and the Pea, and one you should pick up as soon as possible!