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
Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N
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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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RERUN Review: Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

RERUN Review: Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie MoningBeyond the Highland Mist by Karen marie Moning
Series: Highlander #1
Published by Dell November 4, 2009
Genres: Romance, Historical Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 375
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon US

He would sell his warrior soul to possess her. . . .

An alluring laird...

He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart—until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm's length—but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve.

A prisoner in time...

She had a perfect "no" on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about following the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne's reservations were no match for Hawk's determination to keep her by his side. . . .

After reading the Fever Series, I was curious as to what Karen Marie Moning’s other novels had to offer. Once again, KMM did not disappoint! The novel heavily relies on time travel and fantasy elements to drive the story. And what a fun and delicious story it was!

Beyond the Highland Mist starts off in the Fae Island of Morar where Fairie Queen Aoibheal, speaks praises about a mortal man named Hawk to her King and Court Fool. Hawk is known throughout his kingdom as a legendary warrior and lover to hundreds (maybe thousands?) of women. She tells of stories about his manhood, that at half-mast would make a stallion envious and at full-mast steals a woman’s mind from her body (yup…already got me gulping). Feeling sick to his stomach with the thought of his Queen lusting after a mere mortal, the Faerie King in a fit of jealousy orders the Court Fool Adam Black to find a way to punish Hawk. Adam muses that the best punishment for Hawk was to bring to upon him a woman who not only would resist his perfect countenance, but also his sexual prowess.

Enter Adrienne de Simone, a twentieth-century woman scorned by an ex-fiancé, who has vowed never to be made a fool of my beautiful men. On one eerie night, she is plucked from her present-time Seattle home, and dropped onto the lap of a sixteenth-century Scottish Laird, Red Comyn. Thinking that Adrienne has been some sort of miracle dropped from the sky, Red Comyn coerces Adrienne to pose as his recently dead daughter, Janet, and marry Sidheach “Hawk” James Lyon Douglas, Laird of Dalkeith Upon-the-Sea, in order to fill an order by King James.

Neither party is keen to the arranged marriage. Hawk even sends his best friend, Grimm, as a proxy to his wedding (I nearly fell out of my seat laughing at the ridiculousness of sending another man to stand in place of the groom). Of course Hawk and Adrienne are instantly attracted to each other (once they finally meet each other), but neither is eager or willing to admit it at the beginning. Immediately after the wedding, someone continually tries to take Adrienne’s life. To make matters worse, Adam Black has decided to place himself in the equation and tries to lure Adrienne from Hawk. The sudden love-triangle elevates Hawk’s bit of jealousy and we are succumbed to Adam and Hawk’s pissing contest throughout the duration of the book.

Beyond the Highland Mist is a wonderful blend of magic, humor, otherworldly things and time travel all wrapped inside a medieval romance. The Faerie world that Moning has created leaves the reader thinking that they are a genuine race who’s magic and allure exceeds every ones expectations. The protagonists are truly multi-dimensional. Hawk is an example of a true alpha-male.He’s handsome, strong, masculine in every way, but has a past that makes him vulnerable. Of course his ways of wooing our heroine was egotistical and barbaric, but then I had to remind myself that, that’s just how things were during the medieval times. Adrienne is beautiful, strong and independent. A woman scorned during her present life, she found it difficult to let her guards down while living in the past. There were times where I found her a little shrewd and too blind of her own feelings, but as a woman I could understand her predicament.

Overall, Beyond the Highland Mist has all the elements of a good romance novel without all the cheesy and greasy aspects of other romance series. It had a great mix of enchantment, sexual tension and good ol’ romance PLUS an endearing and lovely mother-in-law. So if you’re into beautiful men clad kilts, romance and sexual tension then I suggest you pick this book up.

 

 

About Karen marie Moning

Karen Marie Moning was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1964, the daughter of Anthony R. and Janet L. Moning. The family moved to a self-sustaining farm in Indiana when she was six years old, where she spent her youth raising cows, horses, tobacco, corn and other crops with her sisters and brother.

An alum of the Immaculate Conception Academy, at seventeen she attended Purdue University where she completed a BA in Society & Law, with minors in Philosophy, Creative Writing and Theatre, while working full time as a bartender and computer consultant. She intended to go to law school but after an internship with a firm of Criminal Attorneys, decided against it. For the next decade, she worked in insurance, where she wrote intercompany arbitrations and directed commercial litigation. At the age of thirty, she decided it was time to get serious and do what she’d always wanted to do: write fiction novels.

Beyond the Highland Mist was published in 1999 and nominated for two RITA awards. She then published six more novels in her award-winning HIGHLANDER series, and received the RITA Award in 2001 for The Highlander’s Touch.

In 2004, she began writing the #1 New York Times bestselling FEVER series. The books have been optioned twice for potential franchise development by Twentieth Century Fox and DreamWorks Studios, but the rights are currently held by Moning who has expressed a desire to one day see it as a television series. Her novels have been published in over thirty countries. She divides her time between Ohio and Florida and is working on two future projects for Random House Publishing.


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