BLOG REVIEW: Once Upon a Tower by Eloise James

19y.o. heroine agrees with the marriage arrangement her father made with 22y.o. Scottish Duke whom she danced with twice at her debut ball but doesn’t remember due to her feverish condition. 
Hero wants her for his wife since the second he laid eyes on her. 
And not even her marriage conditions or her obsession with the cello could change it.  
When heroine sees him again & gets to know him, she doesn’t dispute Hero’s desire for a speedy wedding since the attraction is mutual.
When they are married, however, she realizes how ordered & crowded their life is. Their time together is relegated to bedtime, which proves to be not enjoyable for her at all. 
When Hero finds out she’s been less than honest about their marriage, he leaves her 
and tries to find out if getting more sexual experience may repair what he seems to lack in their marriage.

My kind of romance. This book was a balm to the angst-laden contemporary novels I’ve been reading lately. This James’ book was emotionally satisfying, sexually exciting, and, most of all, had likeable characters that constantly showed their love and respect for each other throughout the book.  Both Hero and heroine were virgins with each other. Hero was a brooding kind of muscular alpha male who was driven by success and order in life. He’d surpass the negative genetic predilections of both his parents (dad was a financially-irresponsible womanizer & mom was a neglectful alcoholic) and made the dwindling family estates thrive within 8 years in his care. He valued and respected himself and others. Thus, he didn’t have sex with other women just to get pleasure & relief and wanted to wait for the right woman to do it with.  He was a man of integrity who believed that how you start is how things will follow.  He desired and valued heroine and treated her as such. He may have been a stickler for order but he was a seething mass of desire for heroine.  He just took his idea of order and control too far and didn’t give himself time to freely spend with her.  He wanted to but didn’t know how.

Heroine was eccentric in her genius and obsession with the cello. She spoke her mind yet was also used to appeasing people with her family peacemaker role. She really didn’t think much of herself and others because her world was the cello. But knowing Hero gave her another interest. She was astonished that he was so enamored with her. She felt valued by him and that’s part of why she felt guilty about telling him about her displeasure when they had sex. Her POV(point of view) about her experience of sex was quite funny yet realistic. She also kept mum about her displeasure with being relegated to slot in his busy schedule. She tried fixing it with her cello-playing but it wasn’t enough. Her cello has ceased to be the be-all and end-all of her world. It showed that Hero had become very important to her. So his critical words upon knowing about how she truly felt about their sexual interactions were demoralizing to her. We get some angst when Hero left her and she’s left to figure out what that meant for their relationship. 

--------------------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if spoilers will spoil your reading-------------------

There was no cheating in this book. Hero did go to the village bar in desperation so he could learn some sexual techniques to please sexually-disatisfied heroine. But he couldn't go through with it. He couldn't bare to touch the barmaid who was willing to do what he wanted with her. He thought of watching the barmaid pleasure herself or even just asking her what pleased her but he didn't do any of these either. He realized that another woman's pleasure was not going to help him with heroine's pleasure.  He set out to learn what personally pleased heroine by talking and experimenting with each other. 

--------------------------------------------------END SPOILERS---------------------------------------------------------

His negative reactions to her honesty didn’t become apparent until he was confronted with them by heroine’s parents. I loved what Hero did to fight for her. His sacrifices showed her how much she meant to him. He was willing to change his life to make her happy because making her happy made him happy. 

My only complaint was how heroine became multi-orgasmic during their first make-up sex after their reunion. It was hard to believe that about sex-aversed heroine who thought sex was painful because her experiences were all painful, thought she could do without it, and tried to avoid it as best she could. It would’ve been more realistic if she had her first orgasm during their first make-up sex and then later became multi-orgasmic. Even a day later. Or their 4th time at it. But not the first try.

I absolutely recommend this book


  1. I enjoy your reviews. witty and informative. Off to get this book. :)

    1. Thanks, Stacy! If you like historical romance, I'm in the middle of writing Meredith Duran's new book (released this coming Tuesday). I think it'll be a 5-star. Posting my review in the next day or so.