The Duke of Ashbury has not been the same since he came home from the war. Badly scarred, he spends his time brooding and being a general grouch, scaring London’s thieves at night for a bit of fun. But he also needs an heir, which means he needs a wife. Convinced he will never find a woman to fall in love with him, he convinces Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter who is working as a seamstress, to marry him. His rules are clear: there will be no love between them, and once she has given him an heir, she will move to his country house to live out her days. But he didn’t count on feeling so much for Emma, nor did she plan on falling for him.
The first in a new series by romance royalty Tessa Dare, this sneakily feminist historical romance is smart, funny, sexy, and a hell of a lot of fun. Dare has crafted two leads with enormous chemistry on the page while also allowing them to be fully formed characters with distinct personalities, wants, and desires. The dialogue is witty, the banter absolutely charming, and the sex is hot.
Dare allows Emma to form friendships with other women in the town, and she allows the Duke to be an asshole without ever making him a sexist piece of shit. The secondary characters are well-developed, and the plot moves along at a great pace. This is one that begs to be read in one sitting.
I really loved this one, and I can’t wait to see what Dare has in store for her characters next. This is a great gateway romance into the genre for novices, but it’s sure to delight seasoned romance fans as well. Highly recommended.
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare. Avon: 2017. Library copy.