This Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

January 16, 2012
Shallow is as Shallow Does

By the way, there are definite major spoilers in this one!  I suspect when Eloisa James pulled up a chair and dipped her pen in some ink to write This Duke is Mine, it was not with the intent to spark heated discussions among members of the romance community.  Let me tell you, when I started to read this book, I found my distaste-o-ramater going off.  On the other hand, there were also  moments that caused me to reflect on the world of romance.  And, I'm not sure that this is a good thing when entering the world of escapism.

So, let's take a look at This Duke is Mine and some of the things that had me wondering if I was going to finish this book.  Most of the problem surrounds our heroine, Olivia.  Let's put a few facts on the table, Olivia is a twin to Georgina.  Olivia is fat, Georgina is skinny...and they both have issues with how they perceive themselves.  Georgina is going to be inspected for possible wifey duties by the mother of our hero, Quin (this is the tie in with The Princess and the Pea.)  Olivia is going to go with Georgina for support/chaperone/whatever.  And while there Olivia will fall in lust with Quin and vise versa.  Nothing there to be offensive...maybe.  Oh wait, I forgot one thing.  Rupert!  Rupert is Olivia's fiance.  They have been engaged or promised since childhood...however, before they can be an official couple Rupert is going off to fight against the French and become a hero.  Now, it is with Rupert that the problem arises.  Rupert is a nice guy, he's honest, he's sweet...he also suffered some brain damage when he was born.  He didn't receive enough oxygen, so, he is what we would call now as mentally challenged.  All of this is made clear in the first few 50 or so pages.  Now, I will be honest...if I put myself in Olivia's shoes I would have a few qualms about spending the rest of my life with someone like Rupert.  However, what I cannot accept and what I found totally distasteful was Olivia snarky, sarcastic, belittling comments about Rupert.  They were just downright nasty.  She reminded me of some of the bullies that inhabited the high school halls of my old alma mater.  Every chance she had, she made some kind of disparaging comment - mainly to her sister.  I believe the comments were supposed to be funny, but they were not.  I love sarcasms, quips and banter.  Nothing better, and I even enjoy seeing people taken down a peg or two.  However, those people usually can take care of themselves...they are not some innocent guy who just can't see things the way others can.  I was surprised that someone who has some insecurities herself would be so cruel when it came to the shortcomings of others.  She is fat after all.  You know how I know she's fat?  I'm told she's fat 500 gazillion times over the course of this story.

There was a wonderful scene between Rupert and Olivia.  It was a consummate-non-consummate scene.  He was just not able to perform - however - they sat on the bed and talked.  And, he recited this little poem that was just lovely.  Olivia was very understanding and I thought "oh good, she's finally winning some points with me."  However, the next scene she is with her sister giggling about Rupert and his "stalk of celery."  She lost her points.

Rupert's portrayal in this book also had me pondering.  Not only is he represented as being dim-witted, he is also physically repulsive.  He has a nose like a potato and a fat mouth that doesn't close.  I can only assume that he drools.  I'm not sure why it was necessary to paint him as a physically ugly person, but it made me wonder.  Our we in Romanceland really that shallow?  Must all of our heroes be handsome?  And, although Rupert wasn't the hero in the book, (maybe he should have been) - what if he had looked like Brad Pitt?  Would that have made any kind of difference?  When was the last time in a romance book the hero had a paunchy stomach or thinning hair?  Or even was not as smart as our heroes must be?  I know there are some out there - mostly on Laura Kinsale's bookshelf - but aren't those great!  Maybe it's time to take a look at what makes a hero.

Back to the This Duke is Mine.  Was there anything in it that I liked?  Well, actually yes.  When they finally were all together (except Rupert) and Quin's mother was testing the women.  There was some wonderful bantering between his mother and's funny when the protagonist are evenly matched.  I also liked the Georgina character, she seemed to have more depth then her sister and I was hoping that Quin would chose her...of course, he didn't.  Quin was a typical hero, with some baggage that made him into a rather cold character - unless he's looking at Olivia's giant melon's then he's hot.  However, I did enjoy the middle of the book.  And, then they go to France to retrieve Rupert.  The French trip seemed odd, and didn't really fit with the rest of the story.  Almost as if it had been added just to up the word count.

By the end of the story, Olivia had redeemed herself - sort of.  However, her redemption came through the guise of others, not through anything she did.  She is given permission by her sister to become Quin's love match.  She never at any time approached Georgina and said "Hey, I'm in lust with this guy.  I know you are supposed to have him, but you are not really interested in him."  But no, it is Georgina who says all of that.  And, then there is Rupert.  He dies.  So, once again Olivia does not have to make amends to anyone.  She is off the hook, foot-loose and fancy free.  Rupert's death was another issue with me.  I thought it was a mistake to kill off Rupert.  I would have been happier with everyone involved in this story if there had been some kind of confrontation between Rupert, Olivia and Quin.  Instead we have a weird French farce baker thing thrown in - what was that all about?

So, yes, I was disappointed with this book and the disappointment was mainly due to the very unlikeable heroine.  The writing, the words, the secondary characters were all good.  The second half of the book is what saved The Duke is Mine from a lower rating.  The heroine was too much of a closet bully for my taste.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Hot


Melissa said...

Thank you for the review so I don't waste my time on this book. I love Eloisa James, so I can't understand her creating such despicable characters. Reading your review evoked antagonistic feelings towards the characters, so I couldn't imagine what actually reading the book would make me feel (possibly throwing the book at the wall).

Anonymous said...

I tried to read this book last night. I purchased it solely because at the end of Winning the Wallflowers, there was a misleading plug for this book about what happens with Olivia and Rupert. I was thrilled at the idea of an unconventional love story between the two, and so to avoid spoilers, didn't ready the book description. I started skimming the book, hoping it would surprise me and put Georgina with Quin. I couldn't finish the book, and I even requested a refund. I am glad to see it wasn't just me who was so disappointed.

SidneyKay said...

Anony: I loved Ms. James duchess series. I'm a big fan of her trying to do different things with romance writing. However, sometimes pushing the envelope doesn't work. I feel she should have went with Rupert, even with all of his problems. That would have been a great romance.

Did you get your refund?

Melissa said...

Remember how I said I wouldn't waste time on this book, well I forgot and checked it out. 50 pages in, I suddenly realized where the story was going and recalled your review. That was the end of my reading non-enjoyment.