Book Review: ONCE UPON A TOWER by Eloisa James

Eloisa James is one of my favorite authors because I know I can depend on a good story from her. But, alas, it is a truth universally acknowledged that every author, no matter how good, can have a clunker of a book from time to time. Once Upon a Tower, is I'm afraid, Eloisa's clunker. While the book does have many redeeming qualities, it has severe flaws that overcome the good.

Once Upon a Tower is the love story of Lady Edith Gilchrist and Gowan Stoughton, Duke of Kinross. The couple meets at a ball that Edith's father is giving. Gowan is there because he is in need of a no-nonsense wife, even if she is English. Did I forget to mention that Gowan is Scottish? Yummy! Edith is there because, well...it is her father's ball. She is attending the ball despite being sick with a cold. I did enjoy Edith being under the weather because it did lead to the plot gem of Gowan being entranced by Edith and Edith later having absolutely no clue who Gowan was, despite the fact that she agrees to marry Gowan while under the weather. Just the kind of levity I like from Eloisa.

The story starts off good, but slams to a halt once Gowan and Edith marry. Why? Because the big plot device keeping them apart, they're both virgins and the first time wasn't exactly magical, can be solved with a conversation that simply doesn't happen until later in the story. This unfortunately leads to pages and pages of stupidity on both characters fault. It drug on too long, and in the end, really wasn't worth all of the drama. It would have been far more fun for them to have the conversation, and then have them “practice” to get better. The heat was most definitely there between Gowan and Edith!

I found myself drawn in more by the story of Edith's father and step-mother. Their romance is the story of the disappointment that comes with a May/December romance that starts off happy and veers off track by the realization that your partner is not perfect and having infertility problems. Their story, to me, seemed more meaty and more deserving of being the lead couple than Edith and Gowan.

Overall, this wasn't the worst book ever written (Fifty Shades of Grey), but it was not an easy, frothy, fun read that is Eloisa's typical fare. The thing to remember is that a bad book by Eloisa James is better than some of the best books written by other authors. This book is only recommended to Eloisa James' previous readers and admirers. Newbies to Eloisa should start with her older titles, such as Duchess in Love.

2.5 stars out of 4



Book Details:

Once Upon A Tower (Eloisa's Fairy Tales #5)
Eloisa James
Avon Books--June 2013

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