Dec 20 2011 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Eloisa James’s The Duke Is Mine (Dec. 27, 2011)

The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

The Duke is Mine
Eloisa James
Avon, December 27, 2011, $7.99

For Olivia Lytton, betrothal to the Duke of Canterwick—hardly a Prince Charming—feels more like a curse than a happily-ever-after. At least his noble status will help her sister, Georgiana, secure an engagement with the brooding, handsome Tarquin, Duke of Sconce, a perfect match for her in every way . . . every way but one. Tarquin has fallen in love with Olivia.

Quin never puts passion before reason. And reason says that Georgiana is his ideal bride. But the sensual, fiery, strong-willed Olivia ignites an unknown longing in him— a desire they are both powerless to resist. When a scandalous affair begins, they risk losing everything—Olivia’s engagement, her sister’s friendship, and their own fragile love. Only one thing can save them—and it awaits in the bedroom, where a magnificent mattress holds life-changing answers to the greatest romantic riddle of all.

The Duke is Mine is the third in Eloisa James’s Fairy Tale novels, this one inspired by “The Princess and the Pea.” It involves one heroine and two dukes (but I will say no more—you should read the book to find out what that’s all about).

Olivia Lytton has been raised to be a duchess, a process she and her twin sister refer to as “being duchified.” She is not, however, particularly happy about her status as an incipient duchess, nor is she likely to follow the precepts of The Mirror of Compliments: A Complete Academy for the Attaining unto the Art of Being a Lady, her mother’s bible for duchification.

In fact, the bride-to-be was liable, in moments of despair, to attribute her engagement to a curse. “Perhaps our parents forgot to ask a powerful fairy to my christening,” she told her sister.

In fact, humor (Olivia’s and the author’s) is a highlight of this book. Olivia has learned all of her mother’s precepts, but resists them as best she can.

’Dignity, virtue, affability and bearing,’” Mrs. Lytton recited over and over, turning it into a nursery rhyme. Georgiana would glance at the glass, checking her dignified bearing and affable expression. Olivia would sing back to her mother, “Debility, vanity, absurdity and…brainlessness!”

When encouraged by her mother and the father of her betrothed to seal the deal before said betrothed goes off to war, Olivia is resigned, but not happy. Her sister suggests, 

“You’ll have to think of tomorrow as a trial, like Hercules cleaning out the Aegean Stables.”

And Olivia responds,

“I’d rather muck out the stables than seduce a man who’s a head shorter and light as thistledown.”

And later,

“Rupert the Raging Satyr,” Olivia said thoughtfully, “I can just see him skipping through the forest on his frisky little hooves.”

This book is not all about the humor, however. Olivia is a kind and loving person, if not completely duchified. She and her less-than-bright intended agree to fake the seduction and he goes off to war to cover himself in glory. Olivia goes off with her sister and Lady Cecily Bumtrinket to meet another duke, for whom her sister might be an appropriate duchess.

Both girls and the second duke go through a series of tests (none of which actually involve a pea). Unfortunately, this duke falls in love with the wrong sister and spends the night with her in a tree house, which Olivia later characterizes as “the battering ram episode.”

Love, in the end, conquers all and humor wins over prudish aphorisms and almost everyone lives happily ever after.


Myretta is the co-founder and current manager of The Republic of Pemberley, a pretty big Jane Austen web site. She is also a writer of Historical Romance. You can find her at her website, www.myrettarobens.com and on Twitter @Myretta.

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Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
One thing I'm not sure anyone does better than James is clever, but not in a snarky way--clever in a self-deprecating, but also witty, way. I am very much looking forward to reading this. She can be counted on for plenty of delicious scenes. Thanks!
Ruth Atkinson
2. RuthA
Eloisa James is one of the best. This book was so much fun. Loved the fact that the heroine wasn't the "diamond of the first water". Loved Olivia's relationships with the other characters. Loved that I both laughed and cried while reading this book. Ms. James is a genius in the historical romance field. She shows a whole different side of her writing in these Fairy Tale themed stories. Another 5 stars for Eloisa James.
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