by Tessa Dare
Series: Girl Meets Duke #1
Published by Avon on August 22, 2017
Format: ARC, Ebook
Buy: Amazon, B&N
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I received an advance copy of this book from Edelweiss.
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 love this book SO much. Books like The Duchess Deal are the reason why I read romance. This marriage of convenience/beauty and the beast story made me so happy.
The Duke of Ashbury needs a wife. More importantly, he needs an heir so that the dukedom doesn’t pass to his prat of a cousin. When seamstress and vicar’s daughter Emma Gladstone turns up in his library wearing the wedding dress designed for Ash’s now-former intended, Ash offers her a deal. He’ll make Emma a duchess, thereby securing her a life of wealth and privilege. In exchange, she’ll give birth to his heir. After that, they’ll live apart for all intents and purposes. Everyone wins.
Emma quickly learns the reason for Ash’s broken engagement: he returned from the war wounded and permanently scarred. His would-be bride couldn’t bear his appearance and rejected him. Once proud and confident, Ash is left a bitter, sullen man.
Emma accepts Ash’s proposal and they are soon wed, with a few of Ash’s rules in place: no lights, no kissing, no excuses until she’s pregnant with his heir. But Emma negotiates her own conditions in return: they’ll have dinner together every night, complete with stimulating conversation.
It quickly becomes apparent that Emma gets under Ash’s skin, in all the best ways. Emma is no wilting flower. She’s bold, headstrong, and not afraid to chase her pleasures in life. As for Ash, he can be surly and exasperating–when he’s not showing moments of incredible tenderness and fierce loyalty. Emma and Ash are evenly matched in wit, making every interaction an exercise in verbal foreplay. And can I just say that I never knew badminton could be so sexy?
But like Ash, Emma has heartache that she’s determined to conceal. As the lines of their arrangement become significantly blurred and they begin to fall for each other, slowly they learn to trust each other and fully reveal their painful pasts.
Balancing out the gravity of their secrets is wonderful banter between Emma and Ash. In addition, the supporting characters of Ash’s household staff and Emma’s friends make for some delightful moments.
The Duchess Deal is book #1 in the Girl Meets Duke series. I cannot wait to read the next. The Duchess Deal made me smile, cry, laugh, and swoon. It also filled me with hope: the idea that love can bring you back from the edge, that it can truly make you a better person. That kind of hope is something we can all use a bit more of these days. I highly recommend this book.
Rating: 5 stars