15 December, 2011
Review: The Duke Is Mine by Eloisa James
Well. I like the cover.
That sounds brutal, doesn't it? I really liked the book too. In fact I loved the book, I adored the book, I was raving about the book, except when I wasn't. There is a definite pea in this novel, and I was princess enough to find it irritating. Let's make a list of the wonderful things about The Duke Is Mine.
* Olivia has body image issues that are not papered over by a makeover, a weight loss or a new corset.
* Duke the First is the best special needs hero since Pamela Morsi wrote Simple Jess.
* Duke the Second reminded me of a number of engineers I know. His inability to process or recognize emotions easily was spot on perfect.
* The sibling dynamic between Olivia and her sister was real, touching and true.
* This book should have been epic. People should read it.
Now the sadness. Some of the character names are nonsensical. One, maybe. Two or three and you've lost me. A Justin Bieber tribute. A family of Bumtrinkets. Olivia loves limericks and scatalogical humor. A dog is named for the the heroine of Winning The Wallflower. How do I take the main characters seriously if we're going to move in and out of farce? Any of these elements are fine, but bundle them together and it's a different book. The balance of whimsy and weight slipped around too often. Toward the very end of the book I was ready to forgive all. At a strong emotional point the book took a sudden turn for single act theater. Olivia is placed in mortal danger by a slapstick troupe. Why? So we could work in the Princess and Pea plot with a side car of emotional realization.
If coming to understand what you feel for someone required having a near mortal event most hospitals would offer weddings. They don't. The entire I didn't realize how much I loved him / her until they were bleeding to death in front of me thing is played out. I'm tired of reading a book while mentally ticking off how many pages we have until one of them is abducted, shot, suffocated, drowned, diseased - oh the list goes on. It's like there is a how-to-unite-your-couple-guide somewhere detailing the exact degree of peril needed to trigger emotional response. Adding to the frustration is knowing the emotional catharsis could have been provided by the events already underway. The Duke Is Mine felt like channel surfing between Masterpiece Theater, Comedy Central, and Lifetime Docudramas. Someone needed to grab the remote and make a decision.