The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
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 like to know the names of the people I despise. I keep them in a little book and pore over it from time to time, whilst sipping brandy and indulging in throaty, ominous laughter.”
HAHAHAHA. So here for this male lead and his dry, whip-sharp sense of humor. I laughed my way through this entire book.
Tessa Dare is quickly becoming my go-to historical romance author. Her novels are always so full of humor and chemistry and feminism. In this one, there’s even a line that ties in to current events:
“She was warned. Given every explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Girl power. Yes, queen.
I follow her on Twitter, and I love how unapologetic she is about her political beliefs, how she often engages in discourse on representation and diversity in literature. In The Duchess Deal, I can tell that she stands by what she says on there, how she strives to include more diversity in her own works.
Popular historical fiction, in my experience, is decidedly lacking in characters of color, and that really needs to change. Regency London was much more of a melting pot than a lot of these novels would have you believe. I hope Dare continues to include more and more people of color and LGBTQ+ rep in future novels, and not just as side characters.
A thing you should also know about this book: it had a lot of common historical romance tropes and themes in it. Which I love. Which is why my ratings for these books should be taken with a grain of salt.
That said, if you like your HRs filled with chemistry, redemption arcs, and non-stop laugh out loud moments, give this one a try.