There’s a funny (not really funny haha, but in hindsight, it’s kind of funny) story behind my reading of this book. I decided I was going to listen to an audiobook on my way to work since my commute is about 2 hours round trip. Why not listen to a romance audiobook? Why not listen to a romance one that has had some really great reviews? Hence, The Ugly Duchess. I was downloading it for offline mode on Scribd and then realized I had to leave the house at that very moment. What I forgot to do was turn off my data. So when I reached the bus stop (which is 2 minutes away), I realized that I had downloaded 356mb of it and used as much in data.
I’m going to be totally honest that a big part of my finishing this audiobook was to see whether this book was worth having only 100MB of data left for the next 15 days. And you know what, it really was. While I wouldn’t do the same thing again, I’d gladly repeat the experience of reading/listening to The Ugly Duchess again.
Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to go through because I briefly read the summary and forgot it along the way. But wow, there were so many book feels I felt compelled to tweet to Eloisa James about it. (And yes, the book feels were good!!!!)
One of my catnip tropes is the arranged marriage trope and the friends since childhood trope. I didn’t know how I felt about it being combined, but it turned out pretty well in The Ugly Duchess. What I really liked was having the before and after part. It was interesting getting to know Theo/Daisy and James as young adults. In most books with broken marriages, we usually are only hinted at of how things used to be. Or if the author is merciful, they’ll give us a flashback. Sometimes, a flashback isn’t even necessary at all. Reading about what led to the current state of the marriage in a chronological fashion was new to me, definitely. There were a few moments during the before part where I just wanted to know what was going to happen next. I knew their marriage was going to have huge problems, I could guess why they were going to have problems, but for most of the before part, I didn’t know when it was going to happen. It was frustrating. It was great.
(Side note: I got to the newlyweds discovering each other scene when I just got off the bus and was walking to work. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t listen to it while walking through a parking lot haha. There’s something different about hearing the words “velvety hardness” as opposed to reading them.)
I also thought that the characterization was off the charts in The Ugly Duchess. Is this common with Eloisa James books because clearly, I got to check more of her books out. I disliked James’ dad severely, but towards the end I felt sorry for him. Everything was his fault, but he was portrayed to be very human. A horrible one, but he had his moments clearly. James’ personality annoyed me a bit though. He reminded me of Hamlet, but instead of just procrastinating, he did opposite of what he first thought he should do. WHY JAMES WHY. It gave me a lot of frustration and my mother was looking at me weirdly whenever I’d yell out at James, as I was listening to this audiobook.
Theo, while not my favourite heroine ever, was pretty great on her own. Girl had some business skills and look at her, she made James’ estate filthy rich. I need to have a gif of Nicki Minaj and Beyonce clapping or approving on hand for moments like this, clearly. Despite her insecurities with her looks, she knew just how smart and resourceful and stylish she really was, and I thought that was great. Also, it’s sad how true it is that us women can be very mean to each other, especially about our looks. We need to stop that immediately. But I digress. I definitely enjoyed reading about Theo and how she matured over the years. It was wonderful reading/hearing about her come to herself and her own sense of style. I definitely thought she was the more logical and rational of the two. I just kept getting frustrated at James and his decision making skills.
Lastly, one of the things I really liked was how there were some parts of the book that came full circle. My favourite was Theo describing how she liked James’ physique in the before part, because men like James in the after part scared her. I thought that was brilliant and I wonder if James remembered that part haha.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Ugly Duchess. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that really pulled me in like this. I had a good book hang over and it was only the arrival of my new computer (yess video games) that kind of pulled me out of it. Not completely though, I can still recall some of James’ questionable life choices 3 days after haha. So, if you’re looking for a good book to suck you in, I highly suggest The Ugly Duchess. It was a superb experience.
(I read the last few chapters because I thought the audiobook was going too slow for me haha. But are most romance heroines always breathless in audiobooks?)