How can she dare to imagine he loves her... when all London calls herThe 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.
I was a bit unsure about how much I was going to enjoy a book where the heroine is constantly referred to as ugly. I think ugliness, as beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and all the ugly duckling stories I've read so far just seem to prove that point. But I am a sucker for angst so I couldn't resist this.
Theodora Saxby, or Theo as she prefers to be called, has a sibling like relationship with the future duke of Ashbrook. When the duke forces his son to court and marry her he is, at first, horrified but soon realises he has more feelings for Theo, or Daisy as he likes to call her, than what he thought. Theo's feelings for James have also developed from a sibling like relationship and they find themselves happily married despite the newspapers calling Theo ugly.
When she discovers that James married her for more than just love she is mad to the point of throwing him out of the house. They spend seven years apart, during which James does his best to forget his marriage and Theo improves the family fortune and becomes an elegant member of society. When they meet again sparks fly as James wants Theo again and she only wants to be free of him.
I really liked the first half of this story. I sometimes have trouble relating to young love but I really liked the relationship between the young James and the young Theo. How they dealt with each other and how they realised how their feelings changed. I did feel James' father was a bit over the top but I suppose that was needed to create the rift between the young lovers.
Seven years apart was also a bit too much. And James becoming a privateer also seemed a bit of s stretch. Not to mention that I wondered if James would really be back if Theo hadn't tried to have him declared dead. But as soon as he got back he was determined to win her back and I liked how he didn't hesitate to use some devious tactics to get her to spend time with him. James seems to have improved, gained in maturity, more than Theo whom I thought was a bit unfair as she was definitely the blameless party in the events and deserved to have overcome her insecurities a lot faster.
Overall this made for an entertaining, quick read much in the same vein of the previous books in this series.