The Duke Is Mine - Eloisa James Eh, so I’m not sure what happened to Eloisa James with this book. She says in the dedication that she had to scrap 175 pages of the story and had to re-plot. It makes me shudder to think what she had originally written. To be fair, writing wise this book is pretty good for a romance. I read the ebook and didn’t have a problem with sentence structure, grammar or even formatting. My issues were with the story itself. The heroine was meant to be witty and funny, but most times I thought she was obnoxious, selfish and when dealing with her mentally challenged fiancée- a complete bitch.

We are first introduced to Olivia Lytton in the novella Winning the Wallflowers where she appears as Lucy Towerton’s friend. Olivia had some funny lines so I looked forward to her book. Rupert, her fiancée, was also introduced in Winning the Wallflowers. He had some lines and there was an insinuation that he was a bit slow. It was clear that Olivia did not want to marry Rupert and there were some Mean Girl lines thrown in, but nothing really that set off my alarm bells. It wasn’t until a few chapters into The Duke is Mine that it is explained Rupert’s oxygen was cut off at birth, which led to brain damage thus explaining Olivia’s description of his appearance and behavior. Olivia’s perspective was not flattering and for the most part, was down right mean.

Okay, so I get defenders of this book will probably say we should be sympathetic to Olivia because she’s being forced into a loveless marriage with a younger mentally challenged man. Yes, I get that. It’s a bleak future and I don’t blame her for being bitter about it. But many women of her time entered loveless marriages. They dealt with it and cheated on the side. Plus, it was not Rupert’s fault for being the way he is, so nicknaming him the FF (foolish fiancée), the HH (half-wit husband), the BB (brainless betrothed) or MM (mindless mari or marito) was beyond fucked up and uncalled for. This is just not my brand of humor and should not be condoned even in books. I felt sorry for Rupert because he was stuck marrying the OFG (obnoxious fat girl), had a dick for a father and was looked down upon by society.

Defenders will also say that Olivia’s perspective changes in the end. Mmmm, yeah but I felt like her sympathy came more out of the situation changing in her favor. She never apologized for thinking of him in acronyms and it didn’t seem like there was any real regret in how she treated him all those years. I had a hard time buying that she changed. Anyway, by the end I didn’t have much sympathy nor was I any closer to really liking her.

Apart from Olivia’s treatment of Rupert, I just didn’t like her. She was described as being purposely brash with a taste for naughty limericks as a way to combat her overbearing mom. Mom basically trained both daughters to become wives of Dukes in order to uplift the family status. Mom came off as obsessive and constantly quoted from “The Mirror of Compliments: A Complete Academy for the Attaining unto the Art of Being a Lady” written by the Dowager Duchess of Sconce. The Duchess of Sconce happens to be the hero’s, Quin’s, mother. The scenes where Olivia goes toe to toe with the Duchess and quotes her own book at her were amusing. But that’s where it ended. While at the Duchess’ home Olivia still acted obnoxious even without mom present. It was to the point where her sister had to ask her to tame it down so she could have a chance at marriage. Olivia, being the diva she is, excused her behavior as “only funning.” How selfish is that?

Then as if this story couldn’t get any worse James has Quin fall in love lust with Olivia. Georgie, Olivia’s sister, is supposed to be his marriage prospect, but one look at Olivia and Georgie is thrown to the side…as usual. Quin wasn’t much of a likeable hero either. He was a recluse because of a tragedy he suffered, but there wasn’t much to him besides this tragedy. The romance was more physical than anything because they didn’t have any interests in common. Olivia’s biggest hang up was her body, which she described as fat but was actually full figured. Quin loved to reassure that she was perfect. That seemed to be their only commonality.

What struck me was that Olivia didn’t exactly put a stop to the flirtation. Both Quin and Olivia brought up not wanting to hurt either Georgie or Rupert, but that didn’t stop them from flirting or eventually sleeping with each other. Granted, Georgie realizes that Quin is not for her and gives her consent, but Rupert got played…badly. They both try to make amends by trying to save him in the end, but really it was just too late on all levels.

As for this being a Princess and The Pea spinoff…it’s really just barely a spinoff. The mom is choosing a wife for her son and some mattresses are thrown in for good measure…you know, in case you forget this was supposed to be a spinoff. *rolls eyes* Anyway, this review is way longer than anything I intended to write because there was so much wrong with it. I will say that I liked some of the side characters like The Duchess of Sconce and Lucy, but they weren’t enough to hold this story up. The treatment of Rupert for giggles puts this one on the 1 star list and “needs to be burned” shelf.