The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

by - August 21, 2019

The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke #1) by Tessa Dare (2017)

This is my first historical romance novel... and I am in love!

This historical Beauty and the Beast retelling features a marriage of convenience, witty humor, and more smut scenes than I can count...

Quick Categories

Steamy Hatefuck Scale: 4/5

  • Okay, so this is complicated. At first they start very awkwardly... Ash is afraid to hurt Emma and assumes that she's disgusted by him (when in reality, she's very attracted to him). But eventually they realize they both love it and have sex pretty much... everywhere... There's a lot of smut in here. And these idiots (Ash is the main idiot) always do it with the assumption that this is just business and their feelings are nonexistent. Pshaw.
Secret Softness Scale: 5/5

  • Emma helps Ash realize that the heart matters more than looks. Ash becomes a better man once he realizes that Emma deserves better from him. And he gets (hilarious) revenge for her sake. These two refuse to admit that they're in love... but they are totally in love. Actions speak louder than words ;)

Laugh Out Loud Scale: 5/5
  • Ashbury has a hobby of going out into town at night, pretending to be a monster, and beating up bad guys. He ends up with a boy sidekick who refuses to leave him alone. When the newspapers go wild, making up the weirdest rumors about him, he actively encourages it. ASH IS THE BIGGEST DRAMA QUEEN ON EARTH. He's worse than the Phantom. And he's an idiot too, because all that drama gets him arrested (though of course he's bailed out). I love him, the moron.

Tropes you'll find in THE DUCHESS DEAL:
  • Marriage of convenience
  • Bridal carry. In public.
  • Bedsharing (both innocent and not so innocent)
  • Idiots to lovers or I cannot believe these two still think their feelings are one-sided
  • Ash's Angst
  • Beauty and the Beast retelling
  • Smut on every piece of furniture in the house
  • Evil, broody man hides a secret soft side
  • Strong heroine cares for her friends and gets Ash's head out of his ass
  • Everyone Ships It. All the servants ship it.
So it is basically a Reylo fic.

On to the actual review...

Here is the summary on Goodreads:
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…

My reviews have been getting way too long recently so I'm going to be snappy about what makes this book special.

1. It's funny.

Ash has a very dry sense of humor. Not to mention his and Emma's stupid antics as idiots-to-truly-lovers. I chuckled out loud while reading this. 

2. It's sweet

Highlight reel: Emma swoons in the rain. Ash bridal carries her to the nearest inn IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY, demands a room, and takes care of her for the rest of the evening. And of course they have to strip down and sleep together naked. For warmth. Ehem.

Ash is a self-absorbed idiot most of the time (he's so bothered by his monstrous appearance that he refuses to socialize, refuses to go outside in daylight, and refuses to be kind. Or at least, he'll huff and puff and brood while he secretly cares.

3. Emma has amazing female friendships

Emma accepts Ash's offer to be his wife because she just wants to help out another friend. And when she can't fit in with the other noble wives, a group of other outcast women take her in and instantly befriend her. They're so quirky and sweet! Emma's friends, in fact, are the protagonists of the other books in this Girl Meets Duke series.

4. They start out bickering... but they fall in love pretty quick. It's insta-love, not so believable, but it's still fun to read.

I mean, they get married for the sake of bearing children. So of course the smut starts very early. And soon they're screwing like rabbits. I'm personally a slow burn type, so this is just a personal preference. Even if it was more instant than I like, it was still sweet, adorable, and fun to read! Unlike other insta-love types that seem too forced, they at least have sizzling chemistry. 

TL;DR Read it if even if you aren't a category romance fan. If you like fanfic then you'll understand the appeal. It's a very quick, lighthearted, steamy novel. 5/5 stars just for the Ash-moonlights-as-a-monstrous-superhero subplot lmao

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