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{Read Epub} ⛄ Once Upon a Tower á Once upon a time A duke fell in love Gowan Stoughton of Craigievar, Duke of Kinross, values order and self control above all else So when he meets a lady as serene as she is beautiful, he promptly asks for her hand in marriageWith a lady Edie whose passionate temperament is the opposite of serene had such a high fever at her own debut ball that she didn t notice anyone, not even the notoriously elusive Duke of Kinross When her father accepts his offer she panicsAnd when their marriage night isn t all it could be, she pretendsIn a tower But Edie s inability to hide her feelings makes pretending impossible, and when their marriage implodes, she retreats to a tower locking Gowan outNow Gowan faces his greatest challenge Neither commands nor reason work with his spirited young bride How can he convince her to give him the keys to the tower When she already has the keys to his heart Full disclosure I skimmed very large sections of this book I really wanted to leave it unfinished, but I read a few reviews that mentioned this book getting considerably better once the main couple gets married so I decided to carry on My main problem was that I found the secondary storyline with the Earl and Edie s stepmother to be incredibly tedious I was invested at first, wanting to read about them possibly addressing their problems and working through them towards their own second hap Full disclosure I skimmed very large sections of this book I really wanted to leave it unfinished, but I read a few reviews that mentioned this book getting considerably better once the main couple gets married so I decided to carry on My main problem was that I found the secondary storyline with the Earl and Edie s stepmother to be incredibly tedious I was invested at first, wanting to read about them possibly addressing their problems and working through them towards their own second happy ending, but it took far too long and Layla was too stubborn and melodramatic of a character for me to enjoy it Her character singlehandedly ruined the entire book for me, pretty much Meh.I did like that this featured bad sex because historical romances, as a rule, are rather ridiculous when it comes to newly weds in Regency times having sex for the first time I felt this was a farrealistic portrayal and I appreciated that It did not, however, make up for everything else in the book which was a bit of a mess to me This makes me sad, because I really liked book 1 and 2 of this series Didn t read 3 or 4 because they sounded awful and didn t have many good reviews, but this seemedpromising judging from the blurb Alas I m a huge fan of Eloisa James s Fairy Tales series, each book a delightful, sexy, poignant retelling of a time honored classic fairy tale Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Ugly Duckling, The Princess and the Pea all wonderful stories revisited, their happily ever afters given a lively, fresh twist And now it s Rapunzel s turn to be freed from the tower she s locked herself away in, but can her Prince Not So Charming convince her to let him in, before it s too late On the CoverI m a huge fan of Eloisa James s Fairy Tales series, each book a delightful, sexy, poignant retelling of a time honored classic fairy tale Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Ugly Duckling, The Princess and the Pea all wonderful stories revisited, their happily ever afters given a lively, fresh twist And now it s Rapunzel s turn to be freed from the tower she s locked herself away in, but can her Prince Not So Charming convince her to let him in, before it s too late On the CoverA duke fell in love Gowan Stoughton of Craigievar, Duke of Kinross, values order and self control above all else So when he meets a lady as serene as she is beautiful, he promptly asks for her hand in marriage With a lady Edie whose passionate temperament is the opposite of serene had such a high fever at her own debut ball that she didn t notice anyone, not even the notoriously elusive Duke of Kinross When her father accepts his offer she panics.And when their marriage night isn t all it could be, she pretends In a tower But Edie s inability to hide her feelings makes pretending impossible, and when their marriage implodes, she retreats to a tower locking Gowan out.Now Gowan faces his greatest challenge Neither commands nor reason work with his spirited young bride How can he convince her to give him the keys to the tower When she already has the keys to his heart Truly, I ve enjoyed every single story in this somewhat related but not quite connected series Humor, passion, romance, lessons to be learned all woven together to create not just romance novels, but beautiful love stories Book after book I find myself laughing, sighing, fanning myself, and sometimes even crying and when the story is through, I find myself wanting.I fell head over heels in love with Gowan What an amazing, sexy, Highlander To say I adore him is putting it mildly, though there were moments I wished I could reach through the pages and smack him right upside his gorgeous head Stubborn, yes clueless, definitely But when a man s heart is on the line especially a man afraid of repeating his parent s horrible mistakes there are bound to be issues But what I love most about Gowan is that he thinks things through, works things out, and does whatever he must to make all things right Edie is a fun heroine Innocent but not naive, clueless but not stupid, in her upcoming marriage she wants to avoid the mistakes that her own parents made But when your role model is a step mother who thinks flirting with men and smoking cheroots is the way to get your husband s attention, things are bound to get sticky I truly did love both Edie and Layla, but I wanted to throttle Edie for turning to Layla for advice, given Layla s unorthodox and ineffective methods for wooing a man.Despite those moments when I wanted to do bodily harm to Gowan and Edie, I adored them both Once again, Eloisa James has breathed new life into a classic fairy tale, giving us a story to lose ourselves in with people to love My thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review. I think that Once Upon a Tower is something quite unlike most of the other historical romances I ve ever read In fact, I almost hesitate to call it a romance, even though the hero and heroine DO get their HEA and have to go through hell to get it I can also see why the book has received mixed reviews because some of it makes for uncomfortable reading That doesn t mean that stories have to be comfortable to be enjoyable far from it, but in Once Upon a Tower I think that some of the issues th I think that Once Upon a Tower is something quite unlike most of the other historical romances I ve ever read In fact, I almost hesitate to call it a romance, even though the hero and heroine DO get their HEA and have to go through hell to get it I can also see why the book has received mixed reviews because some of it makes for uncomfortable reading That doesn t mean that stories have to be comfortable to be enjoyable far from it, but in Once Upon a Tower I think that some of the issues that Ms James has touched on are almost too realistic to qualify as romance.That isn t necessarily a condemnation it s just my way of trying to explain my reasons for saying that in some ways, the book didn t feel like a romance.Rather, it s a story about the pitfalls into which a young, inexperienced couple can easily fall when their relationship has no solid foundation other than a strong physical attraction and when they allow their expectations and attitudes towards their marriage to be informed by too many outside influences, past experiences and present examples And because of that the story is at its heart an honest and timeless one.Gowan Stoughton, Duke of Kinross, is twenty two and inherited his title at the age of fourteen He s every inch the duke he was brought up to be, aware of his own consequence and what is due to him, but also incredibly mindful of his duty to the position and his responsibilities to those who depend on him He s a great believer in using every moment of every day a major influence appearing to be his grandmother who spent her time running the ducal households, visiting tenants and filling her life with duty Both his parents drank to excess and Gowan s dedication to his role is as much to prove to himself and others that he is not like his father as it is to do with the fact that running a number of large estates and business concerns takes a lot of time Gowan is a workaholic, and realising that one of his major duties is to ensure the succession, decides it s time to find himself a wife As he has to travel to Brighton on business, he decides to kill two birds with one stone and stop off in London to cast about him for a potential bride Unusually for historical romance, Gowan is a virgin he was betrothed in the cradle to a lady who has since died and believed it would dishonour both him and his fianc e if he were to take a mistress or to engage a courtesan He has also been so busy setting to rights the estates his father almost ran into the ground that he hasn t really had either the time or the inclination for dalliance.But when he meets Lady Edith Edie Gilchrist for the first time, those inclinations change She is the daughter of a good friend of his so it s simply a matter of asking and receiving and the morning after their meeting, they are engaged.The thing is, he has fallen for Edie under a misconception At the ball at which they met, Edie was unwell, and therefore spent most of the evening zoned out and gave the impression of being a very serene young lady who didn t have very much to say for herself, whereas in reality she isn t like that at all Gowan has to leave the morning after the ball, so they don t meet again for a while although fortunately, when they do see each other again, each very much likes what they see and they re both practically to use the vernacular gagging for it.But what we learn about Edie during Gowan s absence tells us already that things are going to be far from smooth sailing for the young couple For one thing, Edie s passion is the cello She s a very talented musician and playing the instrument is practically the only thing in her life She practices for five hours a day, and given Gowan s work ethic and the work that is entailed in running a large household, it s clear that there is going to be conflict ahead about that.And then there is the fact that Edie s father and step mother are dreadfully unhappy in their marriage At the root of the problem is the fact that Layla is unable to have children She feels she has let her husband down and that he is no longer interested in her, so she behaves outrageously, taking up smoking cheroots and flirting with every man within a 50 mile radius As a result, Edie s father has become increasingly cold towards her which of course drives Layla to behave evenoutrageously , and, being fairly close to her step daughter in age, Layla treats Edie as a confidant rather than a daughter, and isn t at all shy about talking about her marital difficulties Immediately after their wedding, Gowan returns to his usual pattern of existence to his ledgers and his interminable discussions with stewards and solicitors, something which both astonishes and annoys Edie to no small degree, and I can t say as I blame her A bride of one day and she s expected to sit in a carriage with her new husband and a bunch of strangers who occupy all his attention Further, it seems he never has a moment alone apart from going to the bathroom he works solidly all day, apart from mealtimes, when he s attended by a butler, a sommelier and several footmen so that the only time he has for Edie is when they re in bed To her credit, she does point out this fact during their journey when she asks to speak to him privately pointing out that privately means without the servants within earshot But Gowan has become so entrenched in his routines and his ways that he fails to see anything odd about spending the journey back to Scotland working when he has his new bride with him The biggest conflict in the story, though, is the one that is born in the marital bed I thought the author s depiction of first time sex in this story was probably one of the most realistic I ve ever read in a romantic novel There are any number of well endowed heroes who bring their virginal ladies to multiple orgasms during their first time together, and any number of virginal ladies who are able to accommodate their lusty stallions with a minimum amount of discomfort Here, Ms James puts what may possibly be arealistic spin on that whole this is never going to work situation as Edie, while having beenthan eager for Gowan s lovemaking, actually finds it doesn t work very well at all, and that intercourse with her hung like a horse Scotsman is very painful Believing that things won t always feel like that, she is still optimistic about the next night but when it s just as bad, she resorts to faking it, having been previously told by a tipsy Layla in a moment reminiscent of Meg Ryan s famous diner scene in When Harry Met Sally that sometimes it s something a woman needs to do The trouble is, once Edie has lied to Gowan in that way, she can t stop, especially given that he tells her how important it is to him that she is finding the experience pleasurable as well as he She knows it s wrong, but can t bear to disappoint him Edie tries over the ensuing days to tell him the truth but is thwarted at almost every turn by the fact that some servant or other is forever intruding upon them.I think that Edie s reticence was very realistic even in our enlightened times, bedroom problems can be a difficult subject to broach, and we have a plethora of books, websites, sex therapists and any number of options for help So it makes sense that a sheltered, well bred young woman in the Regency period would find the whole subject embarrassing and difficult to talk about, especially with the man involved whom she does not yet know very well.After a few days, Gowan begins to sense that all is not well While he believes that Edie is finding pleasure in his bed, he can t help but realise that she is not as carried away by passion as he is, noticing that she is often not there when they re in bed and wondering whether she s running through scores in her head while he s making love to her He becomes angry with himself at his constant craving for her, thinking that she doesn t feel for him with the same intensity he feels for her, and angry at what he sees as her self possession around him He s walking around in a permanent state of seething lust, yet she is completely unaffected.Or so he thinks, because of course, Edie has just the same thoughts as he does She believes he is only willing to spend time with her in bed and has no idea that he can t be in a room with her without wanting to throw her down and shag her senseless.Things are already on the ropes as both Gowan and Edie are unable to talk to each other and resolve these misconceptions Even worse, Gowan begins to believe that he can never compete with Edie s true love her cello, as it s only when she s playing that he sees any real passion in her The breaking point arrives when, having imbibed several glasses of champagne, Edie is finally able to let herself go sufficiently to achieve an orgasm Naturally, Gowan notices the difference, having already realised that the experience of lovemaking hasn t been anywhere near as earth shattering for Edie as it has been for him and the anger and frustration that have been building up inside him for days boil over He is utterly devastated and completely humiliated, not least because he works out that Edie hasn t kept their marital issues to herself and has confided in Layla, who, he thinks has probably told her husband, a very influential man in the circles in which Gowan moves.It s true he says a couple of harsh things to Edie at this point, but in my opinion, they re completely deserved She is distraught, trying to explain to him how awful she felt about lying to him, but too embarrassed to tell him how she really felt After he s stormed out, having told Edie that he wonders now whether he ever really fell in love with her or with the image of the perfect bride he d built up in his mind, Edie decides to move into the tower where she can practice to her heart s content while she waits for her father to arrive to take her back to London.In the weeks Gowan is away having travelled to some of his distant estates Edie somehow wins over the entire household of Craigievar and when Gowan returns, his staff all treat him like a leper They believe he has used his wife ill and have taken her side, although I don t know what she did to deserve their loyalty other than languish and play her cello Gowan has grown up with them and has treated them fairly all his life, yet they turn against him at a moment s notice I wouldn t have blamed him if he d sacked the lot of them I really didn t like the ending Gowan, for all his stuffiness, is a bit of a sweetie on the quiet, and has to endure evenhumiliation at the hands of his in laws when he returns with the intention of trying to save his marriage by having a long overdue and frank conversation with his bride Gowan is thrown from his horse on the ride home, has a couple of broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and possibly a fractured wrist, but he doesn t want to lose any time on his thirty hour ride by resting up When he reaches Craigievar, Layla tears into him over his treatment of Edie, accusing him of destroying her confidence and making her feel like a failure as a woman He takes it all without protest until finally, driven to his own defence, he raises his voice to her, only to be set upon and punched in the face by Gilchrist Bruised, broken and soundly berated, Gowan tries to talk to Edie, but she won t admit him to her tower, so later and here s where that whole Rapunzel thing comes in he risks life and limb to climb up to the window a climb which we ve been told has caused major injury and death to all the others who had tried It would have been a hard enough climb had he been in the picture of health, but with his injuries, it s almost suicidal.Of course, the pair are at last able to talk honestly, admit their insecurities, their culpability for the situation they ve found themselves in and at last have earsplitting, multi orgasmic, hot monkey sex.I ve written a pretty long review here, which is odd given that I have very mixed feelings about the book I think one of my major problems with the story stems from the fact that I really couldn t empathise with Edie at all I m a musician, so I love books with musical heroes and heroines, but I couldn t relate to this one Gowan was far from perfect his workaholism, his inability to see that he needed to adapt to the different rhythms of married life as much as did his bride, his rather unyielding demeanour all served to make him come across as rather a dry stick at times But he did genuinely love Edie and was grateful for his good fortune in finding a woman of her beauty, grace and he d thought passion He was the one who actually tried to adapt by changing his schedules so that she could fit in her cello practice, while I didn t really see Edie doing anything for him to make his life easier.In terms of the ending, I ve read novels sometimes where I ve felt that the hero heroine hasn t grovelled quite enough for the things they ve put their beloved through, but in this case I felt that the grovelling was far too one sided Gowan may well have left Craigevar in a fit of wounded male pique, but the longer he was away, thehe realised how much he loved Edie and that he was prepared to do anything to get a second chance with her But I don t think he deserved the treatment he received at the hands of his staff, his in laws and Edie herself at first It s true that they both admitted their errors when they had their talk, but Gowan still did the bulk of the grovelling.There s a whole sub plot I haven t yet mentioned, which is to do with Gowan s much younger half sister, Susanna but this review is long enough already, and to be honest, I felt as though it was superfluous Once Upon a Tower is a really difficult book to rate I think it has a lot to recommend it in terms of its execution Ms James is a very experienced writer, after all and I think the concept was a good one BUT.I can t say that I felt I was fully engaged by the book I never felt as though I d been drawn in to the story, and I never really connected with either of the protagonists There were places where I felt the story really dragged and I wasn t left with that feeling of oh no, it s over when I finished it.This is one of those times when I m going to rate the book according to how much I enjoyed it, even though I think it hadmerit in terms of the subject matter than my rating would seem to indicate As with Eloisa James many other works, particularly the Duchess series, the supporting cast of characters and their histrionics threaten to overwhelm the main characters and their plot, but thankfully did not in the end Like the rest of her Fairy Tale series, the fairy tale retelling aspect is quite, quite overreaching For the majority of the book, there was nothing in it that could be remotely connected to the Rapunzel tale besides a balcony scene and Gowan s silly fantasies regarding the As with Eloisa James many other works, particularly the Duchess series, the supporting cast of characters and their histrionics threaten to overwhelm the main characters and their plot, but thankfully did not in the end Like the rest of her Fairy Tale series, the fairy tale retelling aspect is quite, quite overreaching For the majority of the book, there was nothing in it that could be remotely connected to the Rapunzel tale besides a balcony scene and Gowan s silly fantasies regarding the loveliness of Edie s hair Ah, darling, he had been telling her, I am looped in the loops of your hair Had he said that aloud He would never do something so imbecilic.There wereShakespearean aspects and references than anything else For lovers of Julia Quinn books, there are quite a few references to her Smythe Smith novels and the Terrible Quartet, but they were by no means intrusive to this book and its plot Their involvement was merely a side nod to Edie s musicality and their lack thereof.I found the summary misleading it implies that Gowan and Edie had no clue what the hell they were getting themselves into when they got into their hasty marriage based off a misleading first impression This was not the case Gowan may have been initially infatuated with the feverish Edie s dreamy debut ball, but afterwards, they had plenty of opportunities to write each other, meet each other, and get to know each other on a muchpersonal basis before their scheduled marriage in several months In fact, they liked each other so much that there were no objections to moving up the wedding date The majority of the complications comes after the marriage, and I enjoyed the unusual qualities of the complications, which concerns a muchrealistic portrayal of sex than any Regency romance I have ever read.If I had to give the book a rating based on the roughly the first half of the book, Once Upon a Tower would have garnered a solid two The book did not get off to a promising start It wasn t bad, but I initially found the main characters interminably dull, and the action was completely monopolized by the melodramatic theatrics of Edie s stepmother Layla and her rocky relationship with Edie s father, the Earl of Chatteris I also found Layla s relationship with Edie unbearable and unrealistic They re not so different in age, Edie and Layla are only seven years apart, so it explains their closeness, but the kind of bedroom details that Layla shares with Edie is incredibly inappropriate given the time and her status as stepmother He still won t bed me, Layla confided over luncheon, a few days later NO I don t want to hear that coming from my stepmother s mouth as if Frenchmen were the only ones able to give a woman pleasure I could tell you She caught herself You wouldn t appreciate the details, as it s your father in question No, Edie said I would not And need I mention the When Harry Met Sally scene Making love is a noisy business, Layla said It is Edie was growingandfascinated, if still confused She hadn t quite imagined it that way.Layla put down her glass, now empty, and tipped back her head A husky, sensual moan poured from her lips She slipped her hands into her hair and tossed her head back and forth Yes, yes, just like thatGiving your stepdaughter the how tos of a wedding night acceptable Telling her how to fake it I don t know about that.Layla s relationship with her husband has deteriorated over the years, mostly due to the tension of not being able to provide him with an heir, and subsequently Layla had taken up smoking and developed a bit of a reckless edge I can empathize with the pain of being barren in an age where being able to provide an heir to a peerage was of the utmost importance, but Layla s actions makes it so difficult for the reader to like her She openly antagonizes her husband, accuses him publicly of having a mistress, and in his daughter s presence, at that She openly flirts with other men to attract her disinterested husband s attention, and humiliates him in the process She is a public drunkard, and an embarrassment to herself, her status, and her husband s position as earl and politician Any sympathy I might have had for the poor Layla was absolutely gone by the middle of the book I really felt that she was the major contributor to much of Gowan and Edie s marital troubles and miscommunication Her subplot was also too easily resolved, given the severe difficulty and the years of growing mistrust, neglect, and miscommunication between her and her husband Thankfully, her stepdaughter Edie s main story is thankfully and rightfully, given that it is her book muchcompelling.Gowan and Edie themselves are likeable, sweet characters Their ages are quite young and close together Edie is 19 and Gowan 22 They are each other s first inways than one Both are similarly inexperienced Gowan is a virgin, so utterly refreshing given the glut of Regency rakes who have bedded half the ton s wives and widows Gowan is nice, rational, and respectful of women Lady Edith will be my duchess, Gowan told him, aware his eyes had gone wintry She will be my better half Why would I stint what she will inherit after my death, or enjoy during my life We Scots don t treat our women with the disrespect you do in this country Even if she and I have naught but a single daughter, that daughter will inherit the majority of my estate Can I get a D AWWWW How sweet is that Brutish, clannish, pillaging highlander Not our Gowan, no He is pure gentleman, handsome, imperfect, rarely patronizing, and I love him for it He and Edie have a good marriage, on the surface, and honestly, given their quick courtship and alliance of minds, I had my doubts on the complexity of this book and how it would develop for another half without boring me out of my mind But then the wedding came I am pleased to tell you that the story line picks up considerably in plot and complexity afterwards.I loved the portrayal of the marriage bed, the insecurities, the lack of confidence The pain, the awkwardness, there are no auto orgasms here I hate it that in just about every Regency novel, the hero is able to bring the innocent virgin to orgasm multiple times with his horse sized appendage with just a twinge of pain It s not like that with Edie and Gowan Edie is conflicted, because her marriage and her husband is so perfect in so many ways she loves the strong column of his neck, his broad shoulders, and the glint of red in his hair The extraordinary brilliance of him The incisiveness that was an integral part of him The way he ruled an empire without raising his voice The way he had bent his life around her passion for music She was lucky She was so lucky, barring that one thing The miscommunication and the feelings of betrayal are realistic portrayed If ever a young couple needed the benefits of marriage counselingso many things that went wrong that could have easily been solved with a simple conversation, but given the context of the time, such conversations, even between husbands and wives, were rare, andoften than not never took place at all When the climax so to speak came, painful words were exchanged, hearts were broken, and I could feel the pain and anger of both parties I couldn t hate either Gowan or Edie for feeling the way they did or behaving the way they did they simply didn t know any better, and their pain was completely understandable We all have been guilty of saying despicable things in the heat of the moment to those we love.This book portrays the act so muchrealistically, and the complications of it are so well written I still highly dislike the other minor characters in the book, although I suppose without Layla complicating the fuck out of things, there would be much less of a story and think the Fairy Tale aspect is overreaching it and the Susannah archowever irritating, the child is not a toy to be passed on, Gowan However, I think it comes close to perfection as a romance that deals with some difficult subjects of a Regency marriage concerning two people learning about love and coming to terms with themselves