Narrated by Susan Duerden
Theodora Saxby is a plain-Jane girl everyone – the ton, even her mother – has labeled her “ugly” because she isn’t traditionally curvy and beautiful at her coming out ball. James Ryburn, whose father is the Duke of Ashbrook, grew up with Theodora – practically as siblings – but balks when the Duke insists James offer for Theodora to cover the Duke’s gambling debts. James really is fond of his childhood friend he calls Daisy, but only agrees to marry her to keep his father’s scandalous behavior secret.
Knowing this when you start to listen to the book sets you up for the downfall of their relationship. However, you the reader get a small glimpse into how fond James actually is of Daisy – and how protective and even jealous – when he accompanies her to a ball, so it’s no surprise that he is actually eager to wed her. The story takes the usual turn when Daisy overhears the truth 2 days in; the unusual turn is that James leaves the country and turns pirate! That alone had me hooked, as I love a good pirate love story.
Susan Duerden is a pro at the British Regency romance narrative. She has distinctive character voices along with the various accents required, including some great gruff pirate-y dialog. I’m actually not a big fan of the sort of breathy narration she gives love scenes, however.
The story meanders a bit after the Big Secret Reveal that happens very early on in the the book. Theo is labeled “The Ugly Duchess” after her marriage, of course, because she wasn’t a duchess before; she takes control of her life and tries to use the gossip to her advantage; James goes to sea, runs into an old Eton buddy who has turned pirate and joins his gang; there’s some time spent in France. The story wasn’t bad; the writing is good and often humorous; however, I wasn’t amused for long and was glad to finally have them back together and reconciled (not a spoiler! It’s romance! There’s a HEA!)
Book Content: C
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence: Minimal – some pirate action, with wounds and scars and throat-cutting…
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Harper Audio