From the BLURB:
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…
‘The Duchess Deal’ is the first book in a new historical romance series by Tessa Dare, called ‘Girl Meets Duke.’
Yes I have finally, finally, finally read this much-anticipated book and it was indeed worth the wait.
‘The Duchess Deal’ is very much borrowing from the ‘Beauty & the Beast’ trope (which is itself, harking back to the Greek myth of Psyche and Eros), about a scarred war veteran who takes a seamstress as his wife – purely for the purposes of begetting an heir, and under the condition that there be no true love between them … which of course all unravels when they start to get to know each other.
What is interesting about this historical romance though, is how it perfectly illustrates the responsiveness of the romance genre to changing social norms and political discourse. I had read Tessa Dare talking about writing this book right when Donald Trump was elected, and how suddenly this ultra-Alpha hero she wrote just didn’t cut it anymore. She had to address the issue of a woman falling for an outwardly vile person who is actively trying to put her off falling for him … look, the Duke of Ashbury is no pussy-grabber by any means. But there’s clearly been a lot of work put into him showing his true (kind, caring) colours to wife Emma, and putting on a mask to the rest of the world. It works – astonishingly well.
What else works is the little asides that Dare throws in, referencing the here and now. Like this wink-wink that actually had be GASPING for joy;
“Forgiveness requires penitence. She was warned. Given every explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted in her sinful behaviour, and she would not repent of it.”
Yes. This is Tessa Dare at her clever best, and the romance genre proving itself as the most feminist in publishing – women writing women for women, and proving that a woman’s place is in the resistance.
This book was hot with heart, and I was 1000% here for it. I am so excited for more instalments about this group of clever and commanding women.