This is a quickie review for a satisfying and entertaining historical romance ebook I read in under 24 hours. The Duchess Deal is the latest release from Tessa Dare, an author who I happily stumbled upon a couple of years ago. Since then I have read all her books. Yes, there are steamy sex scenes in The Duchess Deal as per this genre and there is also a feisty heroine and a physically and mentally scarred Duke, but there are also laughs, drama and romance which is what always keeps me coming back to this genre when I just want a fun read.
Set in London sometime after the Battle of Waterloo, The Duchess Deal tells the story of a brooding, scarred from battle, Duke of Ashbury (a kind of beast-like figure) who was cruelly abandoned by his fiancée due to his disfigurement and has become a recluse. He is not the nicest of men as a result and drives his servants crazy by being demanding, rude and never leaving the house. But Ashbury decides it is time he does his duty to the title and find a wife to impregnate and then send off to a house in the country once she is with child. Afterall, who could love a hideous beast like him?
Emma Gladstone is a dressmaker and the daughter of a Vicar who has now fallen on hard times. She meets the Duke of Ashbury when she fronts up at his house demanding payment for his ex-fiancée’s wedding gown. Ashbury decides there and then that this woman will be his wife. But of course, Emma is no push-over and even though she consents to marry him she has ideas of her own. Much romance, fun and hilarity ensues.
There’s nothing new about this scenario but I don’t think that matters. Tessa Dare always crafts heroines who are independent, likeable and give as good as they get. The banter between the Duke and Emma is fun to read and all the supporting characters add to this novel’s charm.
Verdict: Fun and steamy
P.S. I also highly recommend Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series which features a number of novels and novellas set in a small seaside town where Spinsters (girls ignored or shunned by society and the marriage mart because they are different) can go to be themselves. The heroines in these novels end up finding love in unlikely places with a cast of eligible and not so eligible bachelors.