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… (Goodreads)
Historical Romances, especially Regency books like this one are some of my favourite methods of escapism. I have heard of this author before, but for some reason I have never read any of her books. This all changed when I was given the chance to read The Duchess Deal as part of the Blog Tour. I have to say, I ended up really, really enjoying this a lot.
The Duchess Deal reminded me a great deal of the story, Beauty and the Beast. Emma isn’t forced into living with Ash. However, Emma makes the choice to accept his proposal to become his wife. The rules are clear, but from the get go, you could see that Emma was not going to settle for them.
The plot plays out like many of these books with the couple ending up falling in love. What was refreshing was the fact that there was no real hidden agenda between the two people. Yes, Emma did have ulterior motives for marrying Ashbury, but I still didn’t really know why she would agree marrying a stranger. Emma was in a perilous position regarding finances, but she has such an independent spirit that it still perplexed me. It did mean that I found myself really rooting for her.
As the book progressed, I and Ashbury began to see what had happened to Emma that shaped her into the woman she has become. Even with all she has been through, Emma shows grace, compassion and great loyalty.
As for Ashbury, he reminded me of a mixture of The Beast from Beauty and The Beast, Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice and Robin Hood. You may wonder why these three characters, but if you read the book you will see why. Ashbury has been through a lot himself and a recent rejection has scarred him deeply. He has serious trust issues, which has lead to him making this proposition to Emma. Unlike other alpha males in this genre, he doesn’t come off as completely arrogant at the beginning and so I liked him very much from the beginning.
As couple, Emma and Ashbury just seem to jump off the page. Their interactions switch from sweet to scorching hot, to the point that a few times I felt I should have jumped out into the foot and half of snow that was outside my house, some of the scenes are that hot. There is an amazing push and pull between the two of them that is a joy to read. Watching as their feelings for one other change throughout the book is great stuff to read. When others attempt to derail their relationship, I found myself getting angry and hoping that it didn’t destroy what they had.
The book also looks like it introduces the other female characters in the series. These are a group of ladies that Emma meets when she is asked for tea. These three young ladies are just as much the outsiders to the Ton as Emma is. Lady Penelope has an interest in taking in Waifs and Strays; Miss Nicola Teague has a keen interest in science, which would be seen as unlady like for the time and finally we have Miss Alexandra Mountbatten makes a living by setting timepieces to Greenwich Mean Time. After meeting these women, I can’t help but wonder who they will end up with. After a bit of research, I have found out that the next book is all about Alexandra and is called The Governess Game.
The Duchess Deal reminded me so much of the fairy tales I loved as I child. Granted this was much more adult in tone and content but it captured the spirit and essence of that anything is possible. This is escapism in its finest form and though a part of me knows that life in Regency life would probably not be like this, it gave me this lovely fantasy.
Dare is often recommended for fans of Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Mary Balogh, Lisa Kleypas and Stephanie Laurens. Of this list, I have read Eloisa James and I can heartly say that Dare more than deserves her place among her peers. This book has made me a firm fan and I really can’t wait to read the next book, The Governess Game