I received this book for free from Avon in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Series: Girl Meets Duke #1
Published by Avon on August 22nd 2017
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era
When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…
Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.
His terms are simple:- They will be husband and wife by night only.- No lights, no kissing. - No questions about his battle scars.- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.
But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:- They will have dinner together every evening.- With conversation.- And unlimited teasing.- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…
I was fairly surprised at how much I enjoyed this one, and what a hilariously wicked romance this turned out to be. Now at first I was a little scared, because I didn’t get into the story right away, and since I have struggled with the past couple of her books, I wasn’t sure how I would take The Duchess Deal but I can say, with a relieved sigh, that this book totally worked for me in many ways.
Our story takes off with our heroine, storming into Duke of Ashbury’s home, wearing his ex-intended wedding gown, that she slaved away sewing and then never received her payment, and since she needs to make sure she isn’t living on the street, she demands payment from the Duke of Ashbury. What she doesn’t expect is to meet a man that throws her a curveball with an offer….to marry him instead. Emma Gladstone may have been raised among the gentry, but due to certain circumstances, she was forced to work as a seamstress to support herself. At first, Emma doesn’t think that Ash is serious with his offer…the most eligible bachelor in all of the Ton and he wants to marry someone as low as she is…yeah she doesn’t believe him at first. But then she starts to realize how serious he really is, and against her better judgment, she changes her mind and agrees to marry this mysterious man that only intrigues her, challenges her and makes her want more than just a marriage of convenience.
I have to say within the first chapter, Tessa Dare had me laughing out loud in PUBLIC!! Yeppers…this author had me bursting out in laughter and I wasn’t even ashamed because I was having way too much fun with this book. So let’s talk about our characters first. We have our hero, a scarred Duke, who suffered very painfully in the war and came back not the same. All he needs is an heir and has no interest in passion or love. He puts a shield on himself, he is brooding and grumpy and totally not ready for Emma to battle him with wit and desire. Our hero struggles with some self esteem issues, due to his battle scars. He lives more away from society, everyone from his life previously, has abandoned him. He only has his servants, who have remained devoted to serving him and helping him when he lets them.
Let’s set someting straight, the two of us. You seem to be plotting a campaign of kindness. No doubt with the aim of soothing my tortured soul. It would be a waste of time. My temperament was not created byinjury; it will not be magically healed by sweetness or pet names. Am I making myself clear? Do not harbor any illusions that my scars transformed me into a jaded, ill-tempered wretch.
Our heroine, Emma, hasn’t had it easy. She is a talented seamstress, she grew up as a vicar’s daughter. But when she was a teenager, she thought she was in love, and the man turned out to be a cad, and her father kicked her out of home and his life, and she had to learn to survive on her own. Emma despite her circumstances hasn’t let them drag her down. She is intelligent, has a great sense of humor and her character was very appealing. She fights for what she wants, and I liked that she didn’t just give into Ash’s demands on their marriage…she wants rules of her own.
Charming princes weren’t always what they seemed. Shining armor went out of fashion with the Crusades. And if fairy godmothers existed, hers was running several years late.
Their romance is quite simply superb. It does begin as a simple marriage of convenience with a few twists. Our hero lays out the rules, but then Emma counteracts him with a few rules of her own….eating dinner together with conversation for example. Emma takes pleasure in teasing Ash, and Ash only returns the favor back to her. It was quite interesting to see how this story plays out. At first, they tease each other, and their comebacks were pretty funny to read. Then passion starts to enter into the marriage, and this is where the “simple” arrangement gets complicated. Ash soon starts to realize that Emma is different from any other, and he is becoming more and more intrigued by her. I did like seeing the way that these two got along with each other. With their engaging and highly entertaining bantering, playing badminton (not sure how historically accurate that is, but a fun twist to their relationship. And oh boy the servants…..they were so funny. All the ways they were trying to get Ash and Emma together so they can fall in “love” and their Duke can be happy again. Seeing how much they cared about him pulled me in right away. And then we have the group of very unconventional ladies that Emma becomes friends with….I am so curious about them and hope to see more of them in the future.
The Duchess Deal is a story that will make you laugh and smile from beginning to end….an enchanting and endearing romance to curl your toes!! A SEXY ROMANCE TO CURL YOUR TOES!!