February 19, 2016
What did women do before AZO?
Yes, while reading Eloisa James' latest book, My American Duchess, my mind did wander
down ye ol' bladder infection trail - I blame Eloisa. After all, I've learned a ton of stuff about history from romance books. What did women do without AZO or antibiotics?
Regardless of me wandering down a medical history path, I loved My American Duchess and I highly recommend it. It seemed to me the book was written in two sections: before and after the wedding. I have heard others talking about how much they enjoy the before the wedding portion, but I found the after the wedding part of this book totally amazing. Ms. James has given us a wonderful view of a romance which continues after they walk down the aisle. Watching this couple as they sort through their feelings and journey over some bumps was awesome.
Our heroine, Merry Pelford, has been engaged before. In fact when this story begins she is in the act of accepting her third proposal. She thinks she is in love. But, Merry is rather young and falls in love rather easily. It is only after she becomes better acquainted with her fiancés that she becomes disenchanted with them. It’s understandable that this should happen before the wedding. One would not want to be stuck with someone incompatible forever – would one? Anyway, because she has broken off a number of engagements she has earned the rather scandalous reputation of being a jilt. So now she has arrived in England hoping her luck will change and she will find a man who will love her for herself and not just her vast wealth. She thinks she has found him in the person of Lord Cedric. He is a prince charming. When this story begins Cedric is in the process of proposing to Merry. However, it isn't long after Merry's acceptance of Cedric's proposal that Cedric is off to the card room, leaving Merry behind - alone. Well Merry wanders out onto the balcony to ponder her feelings and stumbles across a stranger. A handsome stranger. Merry and this stranger embark on a slight bout of flirtation. They banter, they laugh, and they charm each other. Merry is disturbed by her reaction to the stranger, especially since she thinks she is in love with Cedric. Merry isn’t the only one affected by this encounter; the stranger is enchanted with Merry. Well, the stranger turns out to be Octavius Mortimer John Allardyce, the sixth Duke of Trent and also the twin brother of - ta ta ta dah: Cedric. Oh dear, what a conundrum.
The only reason Trent is at the party is because he is chasing after his brother Cedric. You see, Cedric as absconded with the family heirloom ring which is to be passed down from one Duchess to the next. That means it should go to Trent's bride not Cedric. Cedric has only done the stealing to irritate Trent. For some reason Trent and Cedric have a rather contentious relationship. More on that later.
Gush! Someone stop me from gushing! The more I write my thoughts down the happier I become with this book. All kinds of feel-good descriptive words come to the forefront: amazing, wonderful, fun, fascinating, and wonderful. I will be the first to admit, I usually am a little skeptical of glowing reviews. But I really do think this is a wonderful book with two delightful people finding their way to a HEA. Merry is a charming heroine. We get to see her grow and understand herself. She is such a natural woman, unassuming and really not made for a pretentious society. But in the end she finds her place. Trent on the other hand is one of those stuffy guys who is bowled over by the brightness of Merry, he just cannot resist her. It was wonderful watching his inner struggle with love - and boy did he resist. One of the things I liked about Ms. James' book was the pacing. Trent was befuddled for just the right amount of time before he was able to admit his love for Merry. He was such a stuffed shirt and Merry was just right for him. In fact Merry and Trent were a wonderful couple, they brought out the best in each other.
It was also during Trent and Merry’s married life that I wondered how women used to handle bladder infections. I was concerned for Merry’s health, because if anyone should have developed a bladder infection during the first few days of her marriage Merry should have. If you read this book, you will figure out what I’m talking about. I feel for you, Merry. Zowie!
How I wish that I could give this book a higher rating. I loved every minute of Trent and Merry’s scenes. The marriage portion of the book was an amazing piece of writing. But I had an issue with Cedric.
Cedric and Trent. I loved Trent. But, Cedric and Trent brought out the worst in each other. I found Cedric to be a very irritating character. At first I found his obnoxious behavior rather humorous, but then he became almost hateful. I believe he was deliberately written to be irritating. He found all kinds of things wrong with Merry. He was embarrassed by her lack of town bronze, he was embarrassed by her outspokenness, and he wanted her to change to fit into his lofty ideas of society. Cedric treated Merry atrociously and it didn't take Merry long to come to the conclusion that she had made a big mistake. This part was ok with me. I understand Ms. James writing of Cedric as a weasel. But somewhere between the middle of the book and the end Cedric had some kind of epiphany and turned into a fairy-godmother of sorts, working his magic to bring Merry and Trent together. We the reader are not party to any of Cedric's do-gooding, we just get to read a letter at the end where he refers to it. I would have liked to have been a party to Cedric's redemption. It would have been nice to see Trent and his brother arrive at some kind of understanding. As it was, I felt as if I was missing something. The book would have felt more complete if we had been allowed in to see the brothers arriving at some kind of sibling back-patting scene. An aw-shucks moment would have been appreciated. Maybe Ms. James plans to have this scene in another book, don't know. The problem with that is by the time the other books comes out, I will not remember what's going on.
Gush alert! For me, My American Duchess is one of Eloisa James' better books. While the writing in the beginning part of the book is wonderful, nothing can beat Ms. James’ take on Trent and Merry’s marriage. There is some superb writing in the marriage part!
Time/Place: Early 1800s