My review cross-posted from Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/new-reviews/once-upon-a-tower-by-eloisa-james
Gowan Stoughton, Duke of Kinross, believes in order, discipline, and not wasting time. Which is why when he is captivated by the serene, beautiful Lady Edith Gilchrist, Gowan asks her father for Edith’s hand the very next day. What he doesn’t know is that Edie isn’t exactly the picture of demure grace she presented the night they met — being incredibly sick with the flu will dampen anyone’s personality. Nevertheless, Gowan is taken with Edie and he’s determined to make their marriage a success.
Edie’s first and only love has always been the cello, but her attraction to Gowan makes her yearn for something more. However, their burgeoning romance is very nearly crushed by a disastrous wedding night. To keep her new husband happy, Edie pretends their marriage is all that she dreams it would be. But when her secret is revealed, Gowan is furious. Like a fairytale princess of old, Edie locks herself in a tower and it’s up to her handsome husband to convince her they can have the happily ever after stories are made of.
Edie is no Rapunzel, but Once Upon a Tower does have a happy ending worthy of the best fairytale. Once again, Eloisa James has charmed me by delivering memorable characters and a story I couldn’t put down. Edie and Gowan are two bright, young protagonists who are clearly made for one another. However, they’re both products of their upbringing and that, along with their combined inexperience, leads to a rocky start for their marriage. Ms. James made the obstacles keeping Edie and Gowan at odds believable and, what’s more, I felt for both of them, Gowan in particular. While Edie has a wonderful mother-figure in the form of Layla (her scene-stealing delight of a stepmother), Gowan never has had anyone to confide in about personal matters, which simply broke my heart. I mentioned Layla briefly, but it’d be a crime to write about Once Upon a Tower without noting that Edie’s father and stepmother have a wonderful subplot that’s every bit as engaging as the main storyline. Because I cared so much for the characters in Once Upon a Tower, I actually liked their faults as much as I did their wit and intelligence (this goes from Edie and Gowan down to Gowan’s factor, Bardolph).
Once Upon a Tower is the fifth book in the Eloisa’s Fairy Tales series, but as no other characters from the series appear, it can easily be read as a standalone. Unlike the other novels in the series, however, Once Upon a Tower doesn’t owe much to its fairytale inspiration. In fact, there’s more Romeo and Juliet in the story than Rapunzel, which isn’t a complaint, simply a note. It also bears mentioning that some familiar faces from Julia Quinn’s Smythe-Smith quartet appear. As I am also a fan of Ms. Quinn’s, this was a treat for me and I’m hoping to see a character or two of Ms. James’s make cameos in Ms. Quinn’s books.
Ms. James’s books never fail to entertain and Once Upon a Tower is no exception. I adored Edie, Gowan, and Layla and I’m looking forward to revisiting them soon.