The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

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The Duchess Deal is the first book in Tessa Dare’s Girl Meets Duke series. I’ve been looking forward to this book for several months, and I was so excited that it was finally here that I read the whole thing in a day.

Emma was a vicar’s daughter, but circumstances have forced her to seek work as a seamstress. And when the Duke of Ashbury’s wedding is canceled, this leaves Emma is a precarious position- she has designed the dress, and now she will not be receiving payment for her effort. So she does what any rational person would do- she shows up at Ashbury’s London home wearing the wedding dress.

Ash, as he was called by the friends he once had, was severely injured in the Napoleonic Wars. He is scarred and bitter, but he also needs an heir. So he does what any rational aristocrat would do in his position- he proposes marriage to the angry young woman wearing a wedding dress.

This marriage is supposed to be one of convenience, with one sole purpose: to produce an heir. Once that has happened, they will have nothing to do with each other. At first, Emma thinks the idea is completely ludicrous, but she realizes that marrying the Duke of Ashbury might provide her with the means to help someone she cares about. Oh, and she’s also drawn to the mysterious and brooding young duke.

This was an absolutely delightful retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I loved every minute of it; I couldn’t believe how this book could be so funny one minute and then so angsty and sad the next. I loved the way the household servants conspired to bring Emma and Ash closer together. I loved Breeches the cat, and I loved the pet names that Emma teased Ash with. But at the same time, this was a very sad book.

Emma and Ash share an unmistakable connection, and their intimate scenes are intense, but Ash refuses to believe that anyone could actually care for him in his wretched state. Can be possibly let his guard down and be open to the possibility that Emma might actually care for him?

I would absolutely recommend The Duchess Deal. Because this is the first in a series, you don’t have to worry about reading previous books. I loved everything about this book, and based on a brief interaction that I knew was more than a throwaway, I am already intrigued by the second book in the series. Alas, I’ll have to wait a year for the second book, but I’ll happily spend that time catching up all the Tessa Dare books that I haven’t read yet!

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