18 March 2012

The Duke is Mine (Eloisa James)

So I'm finishing up Eloisa James's "Princess and the Pea" riff, The Duke is Mine, and our orange tabby kitten (Brains is her name! Middle name Amelia, after fellow ginger Pond) starts chomping on the back cover! "NO," I admonish. "Books are not for eating. Undaunted, she takes another bite, leaving delicate little fang marks on the last few pages. The thing is, Little Miss Feisty has never chewed on a book before. Can't blame her, though--I sort of wanted to eat it up myself. This book is yummy.

The ingredients:
  • Olivia Lytton, reciter of dirty limericks, overindulger in meat pies, betrothed from her childhood to the son of her father's friend, the Duke of Canterwick. She's rebelled at every step by her parents' lifelong quest to make a perfect duchess out of her.
  • Said betrothed, Rupert, brain-damaged by lack of oxygen at his birth and hence not exactly the mate Olivia dreams of. (Rupert is a really risky character, especially for the genre, and especially during an early scene where the two's respective parents more or less force them to attempt intercourse to cement their engagement. It's a sign of James's talent that he's ultimately a nuanced and sympathetic character, though he's not the official hero.)
  • Olivia's twin sister, Georgiana, who took to heart the "duchification" lessons of their youth, and is sweet, polite, and struggling to make men notice her. Her lack of family and fortune will be remedied by Olivia's marriage--at least that's the plan.
  • Tarquin, Duke of Sconce (sconce sconce sconce! I wonder if there's a Duke of Wainscoting or an Earl of Crown Molding lurking about), wounded by his first wife's infidelity and the death of their son. He's allowing his formidable mother (ah, the formidable mother trope! I loves 'em. Not in real life) to choose his next spouse--she believes Georgiana will fit the bill, but Quin has immediate hot pants for Olivia, who shows up on his doorstep in a rainstorm.
And those hot pants just get hotter. There's a scene in a treehouse that I started reading over lunch at work--I was interrupted by back-to-the-salt-mines duties and was ever so distracted at the register that afternoon! The passion is paired with a lot of torment, of course, as Olivia risks her engagement and her sister's love, and Quin worries that her tempestuous nature and unwillingness to toe the lines of polite society warn that she'll be a repeat of his disastrous first marriage. These obstacles have satisfying conclusions . . . and there's a scene in a meadow of bluebells that makes the treehouse look positively prim.

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