My American Duchess by Eloisa James
Avon: January 26, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
Review Source: Free from publisher.
I’m a more recent member of the Eloisa James fan club, and My American Duchess just solidifies my opinion that James’ writes my kind of historical romance: funny, emotional, character-driven. My American Duchess is all of those things.
Merry Pelford is an American heiress abroad. She’s traveled with her aunt and uncle to London after jilting two fiancés, one of whom sued her for breach of promise. After accepting her third proposal, Merry vows to make it down the aisle. The problem is that she immediately feels misgivings towards her intended groom, the least of which is her troublesome attraction to her future brother-in-law, the Duke of Trent. Trent is rather taken with Merry the moment they meet and vows to marry her, only to discover that his twin brother has beaten him to the punch. Sensing that Merry can reign in his brother, Trent decides to concede defeat, only to realize that he can’t stay away.
Based on the summary alone I was halfway convinced that I wouldn’t like My American Duchess. The whole engaged to another dude while making eyes at his brother wasn’t something that screamed “read me”. But since Eloisa James’ name was on the cover, I cautiously started reading and was delightfully charmed.
What I liked about My American Duchess is the characters of Trent and Merry. Characters are what James’ does well, and there’s no exception in her latest. Trent is your upstanding, sober historical romance hero. He’s busy tending to the estates and cleaning up his brother’s messes. He also didn’t have the best childhood. His mother very obviously favoured his brother, causing a huge rift in the brother’s relationship that has pretty serious repercussions now that the brothers are both wooing the same woman. Readers who fear the dreaded love triangle need not shy away from American Duchess, it’s clear very early on that what Merry feels for Trent is very different from her reaction to his brother and the other fiancés that she’s had.
Unlike Trent, Merry was not a sober heroine. She’s an American in London and feels and occasionally acts like a fish out of water. This is good; she’s the perfect foil for Trent. Merry is also a heroine that’s quick to fall in love. She’s thought herself in love with all of her fiancés, and in that respect she shows her immaturity. However, the author demonstrates that there’s more to Merry than impetuousness and I think it’s this depth of character that makes this romance work. Merry might appear to be fickle but that’s all part of growing up and I love that that’s acknowledged here.
In addition to the great characters in My American Duchess, the romance is also drawn very well. I loved the fact that Trent wasn’t sure about Merry’s feelings for him considering her past relationships, as innocent as they were. I don’t think it’s often that you see uncertainty from the hero in the romance genre and it’s kind of nice to see a hero that’s so vulnerable in a more emotional way. The fact that emotion grounds Trent and Merry’s relationship is something that appeals to me as a romance reader and I think the author really demonstrated how that emotion impacted their relationship. This is my kind of romance, and My American Duchess exceeded my expectations.
So, Eloisa James fangirls rejoice, My American Duchess is another great book from the author. There’s humour and a sense of fun, but this is grounded with a fantastically thought out romance, which is sure to please romance readers of all types.
For another young and impetuous heroine, Anne Barton’s Scandalous Summer Nights is another good follow-up. Lady Olivia has been in love with her brother’s friend for years, when she learns that he’s going to heading to Egypt on an expedition, she makes her move. See my full review here.
Lastly, I think Anna Campbell’s What a Duke Dares is another great similar read. Like Merry, it’s heroine is unconventional and like Trent, Cam is a sober duke who wants to avoid scandal at all costs. If you enjoyed the second half of My American Duchess, where Merry and Trent were married, you will really like Campbell’s historical.