by Tessa Dare
Series: Girl Meets Duke #1
Published on August 22, 2017 by Avon
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
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…
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For an author whose work I’ve seen time and again in the stores but never picked up, I’m just wondering what was wrong with me?! I grabbed The Duchess Deal on a whim, just happened to be looking for a historical romance that night, and couldn’t put it down.
This book starts off a bit rough. You’re given very little background information and thrust right into the thick of things without much to go off of in terms of the characters, their personalities, and their desires. I wasn’t really a fan of how the romance began with the duke simply pursing Emma because “she would do.” That whole mentality rubbed me the wrong way but I will say he grew out of it and I warmed up to his character more later on.
I think the humor is what ultimately sold me. Throughout the book and the rushed marriage of convenience, the Duke of Ashbury only wants to be called “Duke” or “Ashbury” by his new wife and she’ll have none of that. She spends many scenes coming up with new and ridiculous pet names for her husband that had me cracking up more often than not, especially when she got her new “misfit” friends to help her out.
That was another strength: the secondary characters. I didn’t feel like anyone was just thrown into the story to be a plot device or another body in the room. I definitely hope to see Emma’s friends again as each had their own quirks that made them unique and interesting. I wanted to know more!
But Emma wasn’t a slouch of a heroine. She held her own and I liked that she stood up for herself, whether through direct confrontation or in other ways that made her point known. And her duke’s vigilante justice habits were a bit amusing but overall he was definitely the broken hero in need of saving and I felt like that trope was played up a bit. It did give Emma the chance to be the one in charge, though, which I liked. Sometimes I feel like male leads in romances are too dominating and that it’s the only role authors see them in but Dare gave her duke more vulnerability and it worked.
Was this book far-fetched? Absolutely. The entire situation definitely needed to be taken with a good dose of lightheartedness. The Duchess Deal is not for someone looking for a more realistic take on Victorian London with ton drama. It’s about two people thrown into a crazy situation and is just a fun read perfect for when you’re looking for something light and humorous!