by Eloisa James
Pub. Date: Jan. 26, 2016
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.
It's so odd that I have spent the day absorbed in this story, and I am finding that I don't have much to say about it other than... I loved it. Eloisa James is a master at her craft, and I really need to work my way through the rest of her published works. I haven't read one that I didn't like so far. Hopefully I can work my way through the Desperate Duchesses and Essex Sisters this year.
I will start with the heroine, Merry Pelford who is known in America as Mary Mary Quite Contrary for her seemingly fickle nature with betrothals. After her second failed engagement, Merry's aunt and uncle spirit her off to London for a season in the hopes of finding a husband that might stick. But all those snotty nobs in London look on America with disdain. The members of the bon ton are constantly putting down her country, and/or delivering veiled insults to and about Merry and her family. I really liked this heroine. Merry didn't put on airs and treated everyone cordially and with respect no matter their station in society. She was plain-speaking and intelligent. I loved her random factoids about any and everything.
The hero, Octavius Mortimer John Allardyce, Sixth Duke of Trent, was a closed-off fellow. He doesn't believe in romantic love as he sees it as fickle and fleeting. After the death of his parents in a drunk phaeton driving accident, he despairs over the habitual imbibing of his twin brother, Cedric. In the first encounter between Trent and Merry, there is an instant spark between them. They converse and flirt with ease, and Trent likes Merry for all of the ways she is unlike other English ladies. I liked Trent well enough... but the story was all about Merry for me so I was more focused on her.
One of the things I liked best about this book is how the romance was laid out. Don't get me wrong, I like stories where the whole book is about the build-up and the couple gets their HEA and it's The End. However, I always wonder what happens to those couples once their lives have joined together. In My American Duchess, you get the best of both worlds. You have the build up of the relationship for the first half of the book, but then you have married life in the last half. I loved that. I liked seeing Merry and Trent draw closer together in their relationship and work through marital issues. It was also great to see Merry as a duchess and how she won over the duchy tenants with her un-duchess-like behavior. I had a great emotional connection to her character, and may have even shed a few tears on Merry's behalf when she thought her husband may not be capable of love.
My American Duchess starts out as a forbidden attraction, moves on to a bittersweet romance, and ends as a heartwarming love story. I received an advanced copy of this book from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 stars / 3 flames.
A New York Times bestselling author, Eloisa James is a professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but who can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. (Her husband is a honest to goodness Italian knight!) Eloisa’s website offers short stories, extra chapters, and even a guide to shopping in Florence. Visit her at www.eloisajames.com.