What a fantastic, astonishing, astounding, fabulously
wonderful book this is! You will forgive me this breach
of decorum, but THE DUCHESS DEAL is that good!
Back from the war and monstrously scarred, the Duke of
Ashbury has only one thing in mind, besides hiding, that
is. He will take care of his title and his estates, and
he will need a respectable wife, who will be able to give
him an heir, and nothing else. Just as Ashbury was
writing his solicitors, a woman steps in his salon
wearing the most atrocious wedding gown he has ever seen.
The gown was to be worn by the woman Ashbury was set to
marry, but so disgusted was she, that she couldn't go
through with the wedding, and Emma Gladstone is the
seamstress who has fashioned the dreadful dress, that
still hasn't been paid for. Emma desperately needs the money or
she will be out in the street. Unlike everybody else,
Emma doesn't recoil in revulsion, she's pretty, and after
a few moments, Ashbury judges her to be sufficiently
educated. She fits his requirements, she needs the
security, and Emma also needs to help someone, so it's a
Tessa Dare took the old dusty trope of a marriage of
convenience -- still one of my favourites in historical
romance -- and turned it into one of the most satisfying
books of the year. Ashbury is wild, arrogant, borderline
rude, and insufferable, and how pray tell does an author
make us care about such a pompous ass? Ask Tessa Dare!
The author has created an exceedingly complex,
charismatic, mesmerising character that defies any
stereotype above-mentioned. It is a veritable tour de
force from the author that I never disliked Ashbury, and
this is because of Ms. Dare's phenomenal writing skills,
where a microscopic line separates the believable from
the utterly implausible, and also because I viewed him
through Emma's eyes. Not as woman whose heart bleeds at
his scars and obvious hurt, but merely as the other half
of what is a business arrangement. Not much fazes her,
she takes it one day at a time; her own sense of humour
help her see him for what he is: full of bravado,
although he does baffle her.
I will admit here to often skimming sex scenes, because
same old-same old -- and I devoured those in THE DUCHESS
DEAL because they are splendidly sensuous and serve a
distinct purpose, not the usual "I love him in spite of
his scars/She will never love me because of my horribly
scarred body", but for the characters to really get to
know each other, and for her to call him on his sometimes
Ms. Dare's prose is brilliant, the dialogues are insanely
witty, the secondary characters are (almost!) as
captivating as Emma and Ashbury, be it a cat whose temper
nearly matches the duke's, Emma's newly found rather
eccentric friends, or the imperturbable butler Khan,
whose interactions with Ashbury elicited a few bouts of
wild giggles. Emma and Ashbury also had a memorable row
that was one of the most realistic I have read in quite
some time. THE DUCHESS DEAL will definitely be on my top-
ten books this year. This better be the first book in a
series, otherwise I will never forgive Tessa Dare. I
cannot recall having read a book this length so quickly
because THE DUCHESS DEAL is simply dazzlingly brilliant,
an utter delight!
When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all
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…