Monday, 4 August 2014

Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James

Once Upon a Tower (2013) (Piatkus)
Eloisa James
Grade: A
Genre: historical romance / fairytale re-tellings
Sex scenes: a hot mild
Source: library
Happily Ever After: (1) A Kiss at Midnight, (2) When Beauty Tamed the Beast, (3) The Duke is Mine, (4) The Ugly Duchess, (5) Once Upon a Tower
Romance Reading Challenge 2014: A book based on a fairytale

At her debut ball, Lady Edith Gilchrist became the debutante of the season, despite having a fever so high she had no recollection of any detail – let alone her future husband-to-be. A talent cellist, Edie could be a true star had she been born a male. Nevertheless, her father has indulged her talents, delaying her entry into society so that she can spend hours each day practising. Now, Edie has effectively been sold to the highest bidder and to her dismay, she can’t even remember what her fiancée looks like!

Gowan Stoughton of Craigievar, Duke of Kinross and Chief of Clan MacAulay is a stalwart Scot, fond of efficiency. When he attends the Gilchrist ball to speak to Edie’s father, he decides that he might as well kill two birds with one stone and find himself a wife. His Scottish heritage demands that his wife be just like his ancestors and prioritise order and control above all else; when he meets the calm and beautiful Edie, Gowan has to have her. He soon discovers that Edie isn’t at all as docile and obedient as he believed, and their marriage explodes with the fusion of the pair’s passionate natures …

Eloisa James’ Happily Ever After series have become a firm favourite series for their original take on well-known fairytales, loveable protagonists and secondary characters, beautiful romance stories as well as the requisite happy-ever-after. I really cannot choose between the five books of the series so far – nor do I want to. Once Upon a Tower is a great addition and if you’re a fan of fairytale re-tellings, you need to read this series.

Gowan is one of my favourite types of hero. I haven’t come across a great number of Scots, but he’s definitely the best. Fiercely possessive, Gowan is alpha to the core and it gives me a huge thrill to see him with Edie. They’re both enchanted with each other but have false illusions about the person they’re marrying. Gowan has no idea how to be a good and loving husband. No English woman has ever had the honour of becoming Duchess of Kinross and Gowan holds the view that unlike the Scottish, the English are a lazy, good-for-nothing bunch. Before his marriage, he worked non-stop managing his numerous properties, and sees no reason to change his habits now that he’s hitched. For Edie, her father has indulged her with her music and while she’s just as infatuated with Gowan as he is with her, she doesn’t know how to make room in her life for anything but her cello. Edie hasn’t had a great example to follow from her father and step-mother, and the pair are left to muddle through on their own, leading to some heart-breaking scenes that have their base in the story of Rapunzel. This story probably has the loosest links with its fairytale, but I love it all the same.

Just as I said in my review for The Ugly Duchess, there needed to be a lot more grovelling from Gowan; he was a real ass. Edie’s stepmother Layla did a good job of beating him over the head to make him see sense, but I personally don’t think it was enough. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a hero who I think has grovelled enough to redeem himself. I look forward to the day where I meet that hero. If anyone thinks differently of Once Upon a Tower, then feel free to voice your opinions; otherwise, read this book!

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.

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