on August 22nd 2017
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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…
~~Reviewed by Amy~~
The only thing better than a romance that sweeps you off your feet is one that is also so much fun to read. If The Duchess Deal, the 1st in Tessa Dare’s Girl Meets Duke series is any indication, this series is one that promises to truly engage readers, transporting them to another world, giggling and snorting all the way.
The Duke of Ashbury returned from Waterloo physically scarred. His fiancé was repulsed by him and his friends deserted him. He’d become a brooding, menacing man with a bitterness that tempted him to lash out at everyone. In short, he was an ass. And he enjoyed it. He would have continued to live alone except for the fact that he needed an heir so his estates didn’t pass on to a worthless cousin. He needed “a woman of childbearing age and respectable lineage, in urgent need of money, willing to share a bed with a scarred horror of a man. In short, someone desperate”.
Emma Gladstone was the daughter of a vicar. After an indiscretion, her father had chosen to protect appearances rather than protect her and had cast her out. She’d traveled to London and had spent the last 6 years supporting herself as a seamstress. Needing to collect fees for a wedding gown that had never been collected, Emma had no choice but to go the ex-groom, the Duke of Ashbury, to collect her payment. When instead of paying for the gown, he suggests they marry, Emma was shocked. What an absurd proposition! They knew next to nothing of each other and what little they did know of each other, they didn’t like. Emma found the duke cynical, condescending, and rude. And she was definitely going to marry him.
Emma would be crazy to turn down such a chance at security. And so they were wed. Ash’s demands were simple: they’d be husband and wife by night only, no lights, no kisses, no questions about his scars, and once she was pregnant, they were done. Emma had her own demands as well. They would dine together and there would be conversation. A simple enough agreement. What they didn’t count on was the attraction they would feel for one another. This was a marriage of convenience. Pleasure wasn’t the goal. Any form of affection would be disastrous. But one touch made them want another. And another. And another.
I have never fallen in love with two characters so quickly. Ash and Emma were so much fun. Both had backbones of steel and were extremely stubborn. They’d both been disappointed by life and love and thus were distrustful of the feelings they were developing for one another. Their tug-o-wills was a thing to behold. And their dry wit and sarcasm made every interaction hysterical. I loved Ash’s personality. Yes, he was cynical and could be a real ass, but beneath it all, he had a kind heart and his own insecurities. And even though he struggled to express his feelings, and often said the absolutely wrong thing, it just made him that much more lovable. I think I fell in love with him the minute he suggested uses for the monstrosity of a gown Emma had created. His Shakespearean curses were hilarious, and his use of reverse psychology in the bedroom was the sexiest thing I’ve ever read.
I fell in love with Emma from the moment she stormed into Ash’s library demanding payment for the wedding gown. She was not some shy miss. She had guts. She said what she thought and wasn’t afraid to tackle any topic. Ash liked people who challenged him and he got that in spades with Emma. The pet names she used to get under his skin were priceless, and when she fit him for a ball gown, I was in tears.
While each character was fun to read, when they were together, it was sheer perfection. Their first 2 attempts at bedding were some of the funniest scenes I’ve read in ages. Ash was surprised at Emma’s adventurous side in the bedroom. She was eager and responsive. And while during the day, Ash might seem aggravating and snappish, at night he was patient and sensual. They found themselves anticipating those nightly visits. So much so that they decided it would be prudent to double their efforts at impregnating her. Soon they were more than increasing their efforts and christening every available surface in the house. Little by little Emma was making Ash feel less like a monster and more like a man.
The secondary characters added a lot of fun to the story too. I thoroughly enjoyed the servants conniving ways to bring Ash and Emma together. Kahn, the butler, was a definite favorite for me. And Emma’s spinster friends were a hoot with their idiosyncrasies. I’m hoping their stories are developed in future books.
The Duchess Deal is rife with acerbic humor and powerful sexual chemistry that will keep you turning the pages. If you want a story that is humorous, witty, and sometimes just plain silly without sacrificing emotion, real character development and an interesting plot, you’ll be thrilled with this one.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book.