I had a ‘Walking Dead’ moment reading My American Duchess this week. To be clear, there are no zombies, wolves or baseball bats named Lucille, just your hero, heroine, a fat English puppy and a pineapple. But my partner and I have this thing when we watch TV—the remote sits between us and when anything shocking/scandalous/surprising happens, we hit pause and discuss. It can literally take us twice as long as the program’s running time to actually get through it. I’m sure we would drive most people mental, but it’s why he’s my hero. Anyway, I digress.
On Sunday night I was curled up on my couch reading Eloisa James’ latest novel. It was good. Merry, an American heiress, was stubborn and witty and intelligent. She was everything I am in my head—and it was impossible not to like her despite her flaws. The hero was arrogant but kind (let’s face it, that’s an irresistible combination) and the premise was not one I’d read before. I was thoroughly immersed.
I had a vague notion that time was passing and I needed to go to my new job the next day. At some point E kissed me goodnight and went to bed. I continued to read, sucked in until all of a sudden… I wasn’t. In a moment of utter shock I dropped my kindle. My hands flew to my face in a totally cliched, knuckle-biting manner that I didn’t think actually happened in real life and I looked around the room for someone to discuss with.
Most times I enjoy the solitary nature of reading. E is pretty good at listening when I want to talk about a book despite romance novels not being his thing and I get to write these reviews afterwards. But every now and then I come across a book that demands instant dissection and theorising. It happened in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when I stormed downstairs to demand “How dare she…?” and it happened in Game of Thrones, over and over. And usually these conversations are completely unsatisfying, because E hasn’t read it and can’t join me in predicting what is going to happen next, or discussing character motivation or determining what we would do in that situation. It’s at these times, that I wish reading was more like television, although I can’t see E sitting through a film version of My American Duchess (although I have to give him points for sitting through the BBC Pride and Prejudice mini-series).
After two totally unexpected and dramatic twists in the first half of My American Duchess I was expecting an equally dramatic climax—a kidnapping or a near-fatal injury that reveals an ‘aha’ moment of blinding realisation. Instead what I got was a final, big conflict and resolution that was entirely character-based. Their personalities, their backgrounds, their beliefs—all of which were set up perfectly at the beginning of the novel—were ultimately what pulled the two apart. I loved that.
My American Duchess had a lot of sex in it. It was well-written sex, and quite necessary for the plot (there’s nothing worse than pointless sex scenes) but if you’re not a fan of heat in your romance, keep this in mind.
I for one, loved this novel. If you like your romance unique, light-hearted and witty, with imperfect characters and interesting yet totally random bits of historical trivia, this is for you. And if you are also short of people to discuss it with, start of join the discussion in the comment thread.
Until next week…
From the back cover:
The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. He wouldn’t even considerMerry Pelford, a madcap heiress who has made herself infamous by jilting two fiancés.
Besides, Merry is in love with his dissolute younger brother—and this time, the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar.
But as Trent and Merry discover, love has a way of complicating their perfect plans . . .