I am a Duke. I’m not asking you to marry me. I am offering to marry you. It’s a different thing entirely.’
When the Duke of Ashbury returns from war scarred, he realises he needs an heir – which means he needs a wife! When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress visits wearing a wedding dress, 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 secrets and some rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…
When a girl meets a Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…
‘The Duchess Deal’, is the first Regency romance I’ve read in a couple of years. A clever mix of humour and poignancy laced through with sensual romance, Ash and Emma’s story is the perfect weekend read.
The Duke of Ashbury’s reclusive life is disturbed when desperate seamstress, Emma demands payment for his ex- fiancee’s wedding gown. From their first meeting, you can tell that Emma is a strong, independent woman, ready to defy convention and risk all to ensure her survival. Ashbury believes her intrusion to be serendipitous and wastes no time in making her an unlikely offer, he is brusque, haughty and hurting and the marriage of convenience he proposes riddled with rules designed to protect his already battered heart and self-esteem.
The couples unlikely romance is aided and abetted by Kahn, the butler and Mary, the ladies maid and indeed the whole of the Duke’s staff at his London residence. They want to see the Duke happy and believe Emma is the perfect match for him.
Painfully disfigured from a horrific war injury Ashbury’s prickly nature is exacerbated, he shuns society and human contact and has only allowed the marriage of convenience to get an heir; enabling him to honour his father’s memory and fulfil his duty to his tenants. Emma sees the man beneath the scars, moved by his sense of responsibility and caring nature. Falling in love will make her vulnerable and is something she can’t afford to risk, but is it already too late?
The plot has good pacing, the necessary twists and lots of humour, which counterbalance the angst the couple experience, as they battle their internal demons and external nemeses to get their happy ever after.
Emma’s friendship with an unusual set of ladies gives her courage as she fights to understand her complicated husband, I look forward to reading about their lives in later books.
The Duchess Deal is an engaging, lively, sensual Regency romance with delightfully flawed, likeable characters and a lovely balance of laughter, kisses and tears.
I received a copy of this book from Mills & Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.