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Book CoverC2’s review of The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke, Book 1) by Tessa Dare
Historical Romance published by Avon 22 Aug 17

Greetings, faithful reader! It’s an age-old story, isn’t it? Girl meets duke, duke plays hard to get, duke falls like a ton of bricks. Heh. Combine that with one of my favorite historical authors and you know you’re in for a good time. Let’s do this thing!

Emma Gladstone has a problem. Emma is a seamstress and, after working hours and hours on a wedding dress for Miss Annabelle Worthing, needs to be paid for her time. The problem? Miss Worthing called off her wedding to the Duke of Ashbury. Sure, that’s unfortunate, but you know what’s more unfortunate?? Not having money to pay your rent or buy food!

Some background on our heroine – after a youthful indiscretion, Emma (a vicar’s daughter) fled her home village to find her way in the world in London. She found work as a seamstress and has been supporting herself for several years. So what’s an independent gal to do when she needs to be paid for weeks of hard work? Emma decides her only choice is to appeal to the duke for her lost wages.

The Duke of Ashbury (Ash to his friends – of whom there are few) has a problem. Ash was severely injured in the war. The entire right side of his body is scarred. Which led to his recently unengaged state. His bride-to-be could not deal. So what’s his problem? He needs an heir. Ash refuses to let his icky cousin inherit, so he decides to write his solicitor with his requirements for a bride (of which there are few). Even as he is writing the letter, a bridal vision appears in front of him. And sure, maybe he’s been drinking…but not that much.

While Ash is somewhat sympathetic to Emma’s plight, he is more intrigued than he would like and, as previously mentioned, in great need of a wife. So he offers Emma a bargain. He will pay her lost wages (if she leaves the dress with him) or he will make her his duchess.

That we should all get an offer like that at some point, amiright??

Of course, Emma is startled and baffled by the offer. She is also intrigued by this mysterious duke. As he explains his reasoning – he needs an heir (drat that icky cousin). She may do as she wishes during the day – she will have a lovely house, fancy clothes, time to do whatever she likes – but nights are his. Until she conceives. But that’s crazy, right? He must be playing with her. So Emma takes her money and leaves.

Like a good, sensible young lady, Emma is back at work (rent paid, pantry filled) and trying to figure out how to help a favorite customer who has found herself in a delicate condition and doesn’t know what to do. Emma promises to help her if she can. And fate intrudes – the duke visits Emma at the dressmaker’s shop.

You see, after procuring a wife, Ash plans to send his pregnant bride to the country to deliver and raise his heir. He believes his appearance would disturb a child and doesn’t want to cause any trauma. Since a house in the country would fall in nicely with Emma’s desire to help her young customer – and because Ash is tempting (scars and all) – she accepts his proposal.

Faithful reader, I shan’t go into detail about the subplot with the young customer. Trust that all works out as it should. Nor will I go into detail about the youngster Ash falls in with, as he is stalking the night and looking for brawls.

You want to read this book – and you want to read it for Emma and Ash. They are such a fun couple! Each going into a marriage for completely practical reasons (and lust) and both finding much, much more than they bargained for. *swoon*

As always, Ms. Dare excels at banter and a wonderful balance between light and dark. For me, I don’t like too dark but I don’t like silly. And her books are perfect!

CSquareds C2 Icon

Grade: A-


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…

Read an excerpt.