Publication date: August 22nd 2017
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 have developed a bit of a love for all Tessa Dare novels. It started a couple of years ago, but my flirtation with "Do You Want to Start a Scandal?" over Christmas simply solidified this.
The Duchess Deal is no different. It's smart and funny and seductive and I adored both Ash (lambkin, darling, sweetmeat) and Emma. It's always satisfying when the heroine is both resourceful and strong in her own right. Sure marrying Ash is a smart choice that makes her life easier, but she doesn't just fall into his arms fluttering her eyelashes and wailing at him to save her. No, she doesn't need a man, but if there's one willing to satisfy her in bed then yes please sign her up. Basically I adored her.
Dare also walks the fine line between depth to a story and super dark destruction of all romance. There's enough sass and snark between Emma and Ash that I never tipped into pitying him - he's had a really tough time of it and been treated appallingly, but it's a big case of him just needing to be shown that his ex-fiancée is a terrible person and Emma is totally amazing.
It's got a great cast of supporting characters, including a nice trio of ladies that I'm expecting to get their own novels (OH HEY COPY OF THE GOVERNESS GAME ALREADY ON MY NIGHTSTAND) and the most under appreciated and amazing butler ever. Seriously, I want Khan to appear in all novels from now on.
Basically this has cemented my love for all things Dare. It's smart, it's funny, it's super toe-curlingly-swoon-worthy, and it was exactly what I needed right now. On to the next!