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…
This book was exactly what I needed. Fluffy, fun, cute romance. I often turn to historical romance as a palate cleanser. I’ve been reading primarily urban fantasy and fantasy. My preferred genres, but I needed a break. Even so, historical romance can be iffy for me, so I wasn’t sure what to grab.
Then I read Navessa’s review and I knew I had to start The Duchess Deal.
It started off so incredibly strong – I adored the meet-cute, and their banter. I loved the heroine – Emma. She’s a no-nonsense character who still believes in seeing the best in people. It’s a perfect, for me, blend of idealist, optimist, and realist. Ash, with his sarcastic, self-deprecating, and just-plain snarkiness hit me in exactly the right spot.
And for a while it was primarily just them. There was the butler that almost-but-not-quite filled the father figure for Ash, the lady’s maid who definitely spoke beyond her station, but I was able to ignore the unlikelihood of these characters because I was having so much fun with Ash and Emma, and their slow fall in love.
Emma is absolutely perfect for Ash. She’s what he needs. Emma, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to really need Ash. She loves him, because of small moments and I totally get that. But she doesn’t need him. She’s self-sufficient, had a plan for her financial future, and enjoyed life. For once I really appreciated that not only the hero in the story was getting some convenience out of the marriage-of-convenience.
Everything was going along smashingly, and this was a solid 4-stars, until somewhere around 60%. I’m not even sure what it was. Maybe it was the excessive side characters with their all-too intriguing quirks. I just know their stories are coming up next. Or maybe it was the misunderstandings and lack of faith in the one you profess to love? I don’t know. But some of the shine wore off in the last third of the book.
Luckily, all issues and problems were cleared up quickly, with actual discussion and conversation, so it didn’t detract from my enjoyment too terribly much. The “big misunderstanding” can be the death knell of a book for me, this was only a little misunderstanding, thankfully.
Overall, Tessa Dare is becoming one of my go-to historical romance authors when I need the perfect fix of fun and fluff, and romance to make me happy. I’m glad I read this, and I am actually looking forward to seeing the other women on Emma’s street find love (with their own Dukes?).