The romance binge-read continues! (I'm reading other things, I swear. I'm working through The Goldfinch at a pretty good clip and have a few other things on my radar, too, but sometimes a girl just needs a historical romance to get her through the day.) My American Duchess is Eloisa James' newest book, and I actually forgot it was coming out until Goodreads emailed me about it, so of course I rushed out, purchased it, and read it in one sitting. (All right, two sittings. There was a break for some Jimmy John's in the middle.) The plot follows Merry, an American heiress who has gone to London to find a husband after pretty much ruining her reputation in Boston by jilting not one, but two fiances. The book begins with her accepting the proposal of Fiance #3, Cedric Allardyce, the younger brother of the Duke of Trent. Shortly after, she runs into the Duke himself out on the romantically-dark balcony, and the two are instantly attracted to each other, though they don't know that they're engaged to be relatives soon. Cue mayhem.
This book is a great example of James' wit and charm and her ability to tell a story that, while not exactly ground-breaking (few historical romances are, and when you've written as many as James has, I think you tend to re-tread the ground a bit) is still deliciously good. Merry and Trent have excellent chemistry, of course, and while Trent isn't exactly a stand-out from James' other heroes (who all tend to blur together, after a point...) the story involves not just two people falling in love, but two people building a relationship after they are married. This is actually fairly unusual for historical romance books, which tend to end with or shortly after the marriage or proposal. Merry and Trent, however, go from attracted friends who happen to be married to a genuine couple, and that's an interesting relationship to see grow.
And then there is, of course, the pineapple incident, which was great on its own. Watching Merry fumble her way through British society was great. She has enough grace and charm to do it, but not enough knowledge, grace, and charm to do it without a few snafus, like eating someone's prized, rented pineapple. These serve a triple purpose: humor, letting Merry stand up for herself against the people who will one day be her peers and make sure she doesn't get trampled, and letting Trent swoop in to rescue her/bolster her, at the same time. Having "damsel in distress" moments without making the damsel into a total milquetoast is one of my absolute favorite tropes, and I think James does it well. And Merry has a bulldog! Well, a bulldog mix. But since I have a bulldog, that gave her an extra point in my book automatically. And yes, Merry, his skin really is supposed to be that loose. I mean, come on, how can you not love a face like this?
Overall, another delightful historical romance from James' pen. I can't wait to see what's next!
4 stars out of 5.