Book Review: The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke #1) by Tessa Dare

Rating: 5 Stars
 

Published August 22nd 2017 by Avon
Summary: 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…

(from Goodreads)

Review: Today I have a *special treat* for y’all – Ariel is joining me for a guest review of the first book in Tessa Dare’s new Girl Meets Duke series, The Duchess Deal. This is my first ever joint review, so we’ll see how that goes, haha. I’ll try to be a tad more organized than I normally am in my reviews.

For starters, let’s talk world building, tone, style, and all that jazz.

Elley: The setting is Mayfair in London during the Regency period. I love the backstories for both Emma and Ash, and Tessa Dare always right such delightful, witty, fun romances. Once I got going with this book I had a really hard time putting it down.
Ariel: Tessa Dare did a great job in this one of creating a wonderful atmosphere, both in Ash’s residence, and the way she held to the distinction of different class systems without making any of the characters snobbish or jerks about anything. I always do appreciate a sassy butler too, which Ash certainly had. Someone give that butler his own book! Make him a recurring character

OK, now for the good stuff: let’s talk main characters and their love story!

Elley: I love me a damaged man with a heart of gold. While other girls were dreaming of Prince Charming and pretending to be Cinderella, I was watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame and swooning over Quasimodo. I also preferred the Beast over his transformation into Prince Adam. So obviously I fell immediately head over heels for Ash.
Ariel: When I initially read the description, I was concerned that Ash would be kind of a brooding alpha-hole, or that he would be so bogged down in his personal woes that he wouldn’t have any other personality. But it turns out I LOVED his personality! He maintained a great rapport with Emma, had the right amount of brood without getting over the top. I appreciated Emma’s spunk, and her ability to stand up for herself.
Elley: Oh my gosh, I loved Emma! I like that she’s so sexually free in a time when women were supposed to just lie there and let their husband do his thing. Yeah, baby! And yeah, she’s definitely got gumption. Can you imagine striding into the residence of a duke wearing a dress that looks like a unicorn vomited on it and demanding to be paid? You go girl.
Ariel: I feel like in Regency romance there is a fine line between delicate flower and wanton lady, and Emma manages to walk that line very nicely.

What about those side characters?

Elley: OK, I *loved* Ash’s little sidekick, what did he call himself again?
Ariel: I don’t remember but he definitely should get his own book. Or at least keep showing up and being adorable. I couldn’t totally place his age. Is he old enough to end up with one of the friends? I am 100% here for that.
Elley: I felt like he was more like 11 or 12 or something. But he definitely needs to come back around in future books! I also really liked Ash’s servants. I feel like you can tell a lot about a person from how they treat “the help.” Today that might look like how they treat their waiter or speak to a cashier, and if someone talks to people in the service industry like they’re trash they’re most likely not a keeper. I think the way Ash’s servants interact with him (especially his butler!!) says a lot about his hidden heart of gold.
Ariel: The only thing that bugged me was the “the servants are conspiring to hook us up” plotline, and the weird maid whose only function was to act like an awkward matchmaker. That seemed a bit forced. But I absolutely loved the butler, and how he was Captain Sass all the time at Ash. I would love to hear more about him.
Elley: It’s cute how much they care about their master and want him to be happy and fall in love! OK, yeah, a lot of the matchmaking plotline was weird and out of place. But that BUTLER! I also really loved Emma’s circle of strange friends, and I imagine the rest of the books in the series will be about them. Talk about some quirky leading ladies!!
Ariel: I am 100% here for every single quirky book about this friend group, and I hope our favorite masked bandit makes an appearance in all of them.

Overall rating/thoughts?

Elley: I really enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down once I got started reading it. I give it 5 stars, and can’t wait to read the next books in the series!
Ariel: I gave it 5 stars for the same reason. It didn’t get bogged down in gloom, the characters were wonderful, and as always, Tessa Dare’s writing was top notch. More books now please!

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