Review: My American Duchess by Eloisa James

Review: My American Duchess by Eloisa JamesMy American Duchess by Eloisa James
Published by Avon January 26, 2016
Genres: Romance, Historical Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Audio
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Narrator: Kate Reading
Length: 12 hours 13 minutes
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The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford - an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés.

But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.

The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear: All is fair in love and war.

Last year, at RT, Debbie and I sat in on a panel that featured Eloisa James. Neither of us had read her but we were both quite impressed with her. She was poised and charming and funny. After the panel we both decided we liked her being on our radar. While I didn’t get a chance to read anything by her that year, I happily accepted an ARC from Avon for My American Duchess when it became available.  However, I suck at keeping a reading schedule and only just recently was able to get to this January release. I decided to download the audio and go between that and the ebook.

Best decision I’ve made in quite some time.

Let’s start with the narrator Kate Reading. She was simply great. There is a reason she narrates for the likes of Anne Rice, Brandon Sanderson, Patricia Cornwall and Robert Jordan. She does a wonderful job.

Now let’s talk about the story.

Merry is an American with a healthy fortune who is spending the season in London, looking for a husband. She’s found one in the attractive, polished package of a Duke’s second son. Right off the bat, I loved Merry. She’s a bit brash for London society, she speaks her mind, is smart and witty, but also a bit of a hopeless romantic. As evident by the fact that she’s run away from two previous fiances.

Trent is instantly enamored with Merry and after his first short encounter with her, decides he wants her as his wife. Not for romantic love, something he adamantly does not believe in, but for the mere fact that Merry is a woman who he can respect, who can challenge him and who he could see helping him run home and life. The problem is, Trent is the current Duke and Merry is engaged to his very slightly younger twin brother.

I adored Trent and the steps he took to save Merry from his fortune hunting brother, though they were quite extreme for this day and age. But getting the woman is only half the battle. Merry, being a romantic, will eventually want the storybook love and Trent will struggle with that greatly.

What I loved most about My American Duchess was that the story is almost two stories in one. You have the struggle with Merry being engaged to someone she doesn’t truly love and the resolution to that before you actually get to the real love story between her and Trent.  It was a fun and refreshing plot line.

Outside of the actual plot was James’ wonderful writing style. She showed all of the same things in her story as she did to me in person. Poise, charm and humor. The pacing was spot on and the balance between romance, humor and emotion was – in a word – perfect.

I’ll absolutely be back for more of her titles!

About Eloisa James

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa’s very first book that she “found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar”; later People Magazine raved that “romance writing does not get much better than this.” Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers’ Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.

After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her “double life” is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she’s written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women’s magazines such as More to writers’ journals such as the Romance Writers’ Report.

Eloisa…on her double life:

When I’m not writing novels, I’m a Shakespeare professor. It’s rather like having two lives. The other day I bought a delicious pink suit to tape a television segment on romance; I’ll never wear that suit to teach in, nor even to give a paper at the Shakespeare Association of America conference. It’s like being Superman, with power suits for both lives. Yet the literature professor in me certainly plays into my romances. The Taming of the Duke (April 2006) has obvious Shakespearean resonances, as do many of my novels. I often weave early modern poetry into my work; the same novel might contain bits of Catullus, Shakespeare and anonymous bawdy ballads from the 16th century.

When I rip off my power suit, whether it’s academic or romantic, underneath is the rather tired, chocolate-stained sweatshirt of a mom. Just as I use Shakespeare in my romances, I almost always employ my experiences as a mother. When I wrote about a miscarriage in Midnight Pleasures, I used my own fears of premature birth; when the little girl in Fool For Love threw up and threw up, I described my own daughter, who had that unsavory habit for well over her first year of life.

So I’m a writer, a professor, a mother – and a wife. My husband Alessandro is Italian, born in Florence. We spend the lazy summer months with his mother and sister in Italy. It always strikes me as a huge irony that as a romance writer I find myself married to a knight, a cavaliere, as you say in Italian.

One more thing…I’m a friend. I have girlfriends who are writers and girlfriends who are Shakespeare professors. And I have girlfriends who are romance readers. In fact, we have something of a community going on my website. Please stop by and join the conversation on my readers’ pages.



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