The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare (Girl Meets Duke #1)
Released: August 22, 2017
Reviewed by Mandi
Tessa Dare has become a comfort read for me. I know I will get witty banter, a super sexy romance, and usually something a little different – like mating lobsters, or in this book, badminton. But even though I have these expectations, her books never feel tired or repetitive. They sparkle, and I can’t resist a sparkle. And while I did enjoy this book, I didn’t immediately text my reading buddies to pick this one up. It’s cute, but maybe not the most memorable Tessa Dare.
Our hero is the Duke of Ashbury and he was injured in the war. With severe scarring down one half of his face and his body due to being caught in an explosion, his fiance left him repulsed. Ash is ashamed of his appearance and has that beauty and the beast thing going on, although his attitude isn’t that beastly. He isn’t scary or super intense. He doesn’t like to show his face in public, but he has a warmer heart. What he really wants is an heir, and when he meets a seamstress out of the blue, who is wearing the wedding dress that was meant for his ex-fiance, he decides she just might be the one to deliver his future son.
Emma left home after being caught in a scandalous position. Her pastor father called her horrible names and disowned her, and she walked to London in the cold and found work at a dressmaker’s shop. She is content in life but poor. She really needs the Duke to pay for this wedding dress she was hired to make, even though the wedding was called off, and he isn’t returning her letters. So she goes drastic – she wears the ridiculous dress, bravely knocks on his door and demands payment. She does get paid, but she also gets a wedding proposal, something she thinks is absurd.
But Ash doesn’t give up, and eventually she realizes maybe she does want to be a duchess. She wants security, and a warm house. She also finds him very attractive, so she says yes. A marriage of convenience. Hooray! They get married right away – but with rules.
Ash’s rules are:
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 wants more. She likes physical touch. She likes having sex. She likes cuddling and eating dinner together.
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…
So they start their marriage and goal of having a child. There are some bumps along the way, especially when Ash start to worry about how this marriage came about:
First, she was a virgin. Second, she was a vicar’s daughter. Third, she was a virgin vicar’s daughter. And fourth, he was the scarred, ill-tempered-if fantastically wealthy-wretch who’d strong-armed her into in a marriage of convenience with no courtship whatsoever.
But true love finds a way in and a delightful romance develops.
Ash doesn’t feel attractive with his scars. He tries to keep Emma at a distance, and only come to her at night. He wants their love-making to be all business. But with her breathy moans, and her wiggly body and her pleas for more, it’s hard to not get in the moment. Emma is just adorable. She truly finds him attractive and might not expect love out of their marriage, but she expects friendship and companionship. Although she is estranged from her father, she lives life with passion and without fear. She let’s it be known how she truly is feeling:
“I am wildly attracted to you. Physically attracted to you. I have been from the first. And yes, I’ve done a great deal of staring.” She stepped free of her pooled chemise. “I want you with a keen, carnal passion. I won’t pretend otherwise, and I’m not going to apologize for it. Not anymore.”
He swallowed hard. “I see.”
She cares for Ash, even though he tries to pretend it’s not happening
As she looked at him, her smile faded. “You are in pain.”
“No, I’m not.”
She prodded his bad shoulder. He winced.
“It’s nothing. Nothing to concern you, at any rate.”
“I am your wife. If you’re hurting, it concerns me.”
Stop, he silently pleaded. Don’t do that. Don’t come any closer, don’t ask about my wounds, don’t prod at them. Don’t care.
As I said, it’s a cute book, but not my favorite by her. It’s a little slow at times and their relationship unfolded a little too easy. I wanted them to stick to their rules a little firmer. But it’s still a comfort read and I’ll take it.