Friday, January 20, 2012

The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

Things that I liked about this book:
1.  I liked Tarquin -- he's a hero with a handicap (Asperger's).  I liked how he interacted with the world -- and how the world interacted with him.  It's an interesting insight.  I loved that he can't lie (part of his handicap) -- and he says things as he thinks/feels them.

2.  I liked Tarquin's mother -- she wrote a book on manners and is very, very strict.  But one realizes, as the book progresses, that she is a mother protecting her son.  She is wonderfully-layered and multi-faceted.

I love that she knows Tarquin very well and can read him very well.  I think it takes an attentive mother to be able to do this.

3.  I loved Rupert's character -- and he served as an excellent foil for Tarquin.  It was interesting seeing Olivia caught between these two "dukes" (well, a marquess and a duke) -- one expressed emotions so effortlessly ... and so randomly and the other was very self-contained.

4.  I loved Georgiana!  Initially, she is portrayed as the perfect duchess-to-be -- and she seemed so cold and reserved.  As her character unfolds -- (it literally unfolds!) -- we discover a woman who wasn't given many choices and had to do the best she could with what she had.  (The only thing she was ever trained to do was to be a perfect duchess.  And she learned it so well.)  In the end, she discovers herself and what she truly wants.  And she decides to go after it!

Things that I didn't like about this book:
1.  Olivia.  Olivia who talked too much.  Olivia who needed to have the last word on everything.  She seemed like a woman who was just trying to make up for her insecurities about her appearances.  But -- she just talked too much.  And she was too irreverent!  She was thisclose to becoming a flat character with no dimension.

2.  I did not understand Justin's character -- or his purpose in the story.  (Was it really just to add more irreverence?)

3.  The sudden change in tone towards the later part of the story (about what happened to Rupert) also threw me off guard -- the tone, the pace, the whole story shifted entirely.

My parting thoughts:
I felt Eloisa James' most successful retelling of a fairy tale is When Beauty Tamed the Beast -- this story, which is supposed to be a retelling of The Princess and the Pea, didn't seem like it was.  And the elements of that particular fairy tale were included a bit too late in the story.

James focused too much on emphasizing Olivia's "vulgarity" and it tipped the balance of the story too much.

To her credit, the ensemble she created was amazing.  Each one with a distinct voice and character.  (Even Lucy, the dog.)


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