Book review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Regency romances have been a hot favourite since Georgette Heyer began making the genre her own, way back in 1935.

Heyer’s legacy has been generations of authors who have taken up her mantle to deliver the same seductive brand of light comedy, clever plotting and sparkling romance.

One of the current bestselling authors of historical romance is Tessa Dare who has launched Girl Meets Duke, an entertaining new series featuring the age-old winning formula of dashing aristocrats and feisty females.

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The Duchess Deal kicks off the series in fine style as we meet the brooding, war-scarred Duke of Ashbury and Emma Gladstone, a country vicar’s daughter turned out of her home after a scandal and forced to find a living as a London seamstress.

When the wealthy, mysterious and reclusive Duke of Ashbury (Ash) returns from war with the right side of his face and body scarred from temple to hip ‘like a raging battle,’ his fickle fiancée quickly calls off their wedding.

Brooding and bitter, Ash knows he must find a wife to give him an heir if he is to prevent his cousin inheriting his title so it seems he has found the perfect answer to his problems in Emma Gladstone, the young seamstress who has appeared on the doorstep of his Mayfair mansion looking for payment for a wedding dress ordered but never worn by Ash’s erstwhile fiancée.

Beautiful Emma is struggling to make ends meet so Ash gives her an ultimatum… she can accept the two pounds three shillings in payment for the gown, or he can ‘make her a duchess’ with strings attached.

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His terms are simple… they will be husband and wife by night only, there will be no questions about his battle scars and, most importantly, once she is pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma, it seems, is no pushover. She refuses to play ‘the trembling mouse’ and she has secrets and some rules of her own, including having dinner together every evening, with conversation.

What Ash can’t do is stop Emma from seeing the charming, witty man beneath the anger and scars… and falling head over heels in love with him.

Dare’s rollercoaster romance is guaranteed to set pulses racing as Ash and Emma’s mutual attraction simmers to a passionate boiling point under a glorious confection of witty wordplay, stolen glances and sizzling love scenes.

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This is love with the classic Regency chemistry; a Pride and Prejudice style affaire de coeur with a delightfully frothy and sexy Mills & Boon twist.

Funny, poignant and saucy, The Duchess Deal is the real deal for all fans of historical romance…

(Mills & Boon, paperback, £7.99)