on February 22nd 2018
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‘I am a Duke. I’m not asking you to marry me. I am offering to marry you. It’s a different thing entirely.’
When the Duke of Ashbury returns from war scarred, he realises he needs an heir – which means he needs a wife! When Emma Gladstone, a vicar's daughter turned seamstress visits wearing a wedding dress, 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 secrets and some rules of her own:- They will have dinner together every evening.- With conversation.- And teasing.- Last, and most importantly… Once she's seen the man beneath the scars, he can't stop her from falling in love…
When a girl meets a Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…
From his library desk, Ashbury heard an unfamiliar ringing sound. Could it be a doorbell?
There it came again.
It was a doorbell.
Worse, it was his doorbell.
Damned gossips. He hadn’t even been in Town but a few weeks. He’d forgotten how London rumors travelled faster than bullets. He didn’t have the time or patience for busybodies. Whoever it was, Khan would send them away.
He dipped his quill and continued the letter to his feckless solicitors.
I don’t know what the devil you’ve been doing for the past year, but the state of my affairs is deplorable. Sack the Yorkshire land steward directly. Tell the architect I wish to see the plans for the new mill, and I wish to see them yesterday. And there’s one other thing that requires immediate attention.
Ash hesitated, quill poised in midair. He couldn’t believe he was actually going to commit the words to paper. But much as he dreaded it, it must be done. He wrote:
I need a wife.
He supposed he ought to state his requirements: 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. God, how depressing. Better to leave it at that one line.
I need a wife.
Khan appeared in the doorway. “Your Grace, I regret the interruption, but there’s a young woman to see you. She’s wearing a wedding gown.”
Ash looked at the butler. He looked down at the words he’d just written. Then he looked at the butler again.
“Well, that’s uncanny.” Perhaps his solicitors weren’t as useless as he thought.
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~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
The Duchess Deal is the first book in the Girl Meets Duke series by Tessa Dare.
The Duke of Ashbury needs an heir in order to make sure that when he dies, his worthless relatives won’t inherit from him. He was terribly scarred during Waterloo when a rocket pretty much exploded in his face. His body, including one side of his face, has been damaged irreparably and he looks so bad now that people stare at him in horror. Even his ex-fiance vomited during the one attempt she had to be intimate with him. An extreme reaction, but one that Ash will never forget. He knows a marriage will be purely one of convenience and sets about asking his solicitor to find a suitable candidate for him. One that will agree to his rules such as sex only in the dark and once she is pregnant one that will move away with the baby and have no dealings with him. He has no self-esteem at all and believes his baby would be terrified by him just like everybody is.
Before he even has a chance to send the missive a woman ends up at his door wearing a wedding dress. The wedding dress that was made for his ex-fiance. After the wedding was called off nobody bothered to pay for the dress, and as a seamstress desperately in need of her wages, Emma Gladstone goes to the Dukes to demand payment. Emma is a vicar’s daughter, he kicked her out when she was younger for bringing shame on the family. She makes her living as a seamstress and can’t afford to not get paid for the number of hours she put in and the materials used.
Ash loves that Emma stands up to him, and he decides then to offer her the payment for the work or for her to become his Duchess following the rules he sets out. She chooses the latter and from there we see their relationship develop into something more than just a contract.
This was a real Beauty and the Beast story and I loved how Emma made Ash realise that he isn’t a monster. She was exactly what he needed and their romance developing was a joy to read. There were many comical moments in the book and I particularly loved how Emma called Ash silly names because she didn’t like to call him Ash or Duke as he asked. His reaction to the names was great fun to read. I loved how protective of Emma he became and I found myself smiling throughout their journey. There was no huge drama in this story, it was a wonderful feel-good romance that I loved every minute of.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers’ copy of this book.