The Ugly Duchess
March 18, 1809, is a day that James Ryburn will remember as his Ides of March because that is the day his father ordered him to marry the heiress, Theodora Saxby, in order to rescue their bankrupt estate. Theo is tall, thin, and has a boyish figure. Society has nicknamed her the Ugly Duckling. Fortunately, James, who was raised with Theodora, doesn’t see her that way; to him she will always be his beloved Daisy. But what would a love story be without conflict, and there is plenty here, beginning the day after the wedding. There is a seven-year separation during which Theo restores the family’s fortune with her business acumen and James acquires a fortune through piracy, or rather, privateering. Of course, all ends well.
Eloisa James is a good storyteller. In Theodora, she has given the reader a wonderful character, one to whom most women, at least, can relate. As a hero, James is likable, and the way his character changes to overcome adversity is entirely believable.