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

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Abandonment, emotional abuse, talk of past war themes, mental abuse (by the male love interest to himself), scene of PTSD/trauma

“For this moment, there was no before and no after. There was only now, and now was everything.”

Friends, historical romance is not my genre for books, but I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say this historical romance gave me everything! For my first true historical romance and first Tessa Dare read, this absolutely blew me out of the water. I laughed, I sobbed and cried, I clutched my pearls, and I can’t wait to read the rest of this series!

🏰 Duke of Ashbury – Coming home from the war, most of his body is severely burned and scarred. It has taken him great amounts to recover, but even after recovering, his engagement is broken off and has a falling out with many friends. Now, Ash keeps himself locked away within his estate and finds himself in the position of needing to sire a son.

🏰 Emma Gladstone – The Seamstress who made the dress to the betrothed of Ash. Yet, no one paid her for all the hard work and labor that went into making the dress. Emma has been living on her own and is desperate need of money. So she takes it upon herself to go collect what is owed and march up to the Duke’s estate.

Yet, the Duke will not only pay her for the dress, oh no, he will also take her hand in marriage and make her his Duchess; even though she doesn’t come from a family of wealth, has no name of power, and has been living on her own for quite a while now. However, this offer is mostly for the Duke’s gain because he is in need of a son and not a marriage of romance like Emma secretly wishes. The Duke expects Emma to take his offer, but it will only be in name. He will come to her every night to try to conceive a child, and once she’s pregnant, he will pack her up to send away into the country to live on her own and raise his heir. It’s an offer too good to pass up especially when Emma’s friend is in need of help, and Emma will realize that this is an offer that could change everything she ever knew, completely.

I loved this story. From the very beginning it gave me Beauty and the Beast vibes. I was almost tempted to giving it the label of a retelling. It was so good and even some side characters reminded me of characters from the original Beauty and the Beast story. I think many readers who love tat kind of theme, but don’t necessarily want the full Beauty and the Beast retelling experience. Alongside all of this, I really loved the way Emma and Ash came together. Whether it was the way they thought about the other inside their minds, the small moments they shared together, or even when they were in the bedroom. I loved every moment of it and I loved the banter they shared between one another. They complimented each other really well.

“Ash gripped the doorjamb so hard, his knuckles lost sensation. He wanted her to read the whole cursed book while he watched. He wanted the book to have a thousand pages.”

I do want to take a moment to say how much I loved Ash. While I haven’t seen war, I have had a lot of things happen to me that have left terrible scarring on the outside of my body. So having Ash as a character was like taking a swift blow to the gut. The way Ash talks about himself, how he feels about himself, and the way he can’t look past his scars… I know those feelings all too well. And I truly loved seeing the representation his character. Not to mention, he has moments where he does relive his traumatic experience and I have to say that this is accurate. A lot of times those who suffer traumatic experiences often relive it while they’re sleeping or having that “looking often into the distance” expression. I know because I live with PTSD every single day of my life and Ash’s character was so much more than I expected him to be. So I’m really glad the author took the time and effort to craft Ash the way he is.

With all of this being said, there was one thing that really threw me for a loop and that was the cover. It is said in the book that on one side of Ash’s body he is fully burned and scarred, but I truly wished the author and publisher would have taken the time to truly show the representation. While I understand why the cover is the way it is, I would have really loved to have seen that representation on he cover of this book.

Overall, I loved this and this won’t be the last of my Tessa Dare adventures. I think now is the perfect time to pick up this series and start power reading it. I’m so thankful for Kayla from Books and Blends because she know exactly what books are going to hit my soul in all the right ways! And I had to include one final quote because she told me I needed to add this (I was laughing so hard and still am)! This quote reminds me so much of my spouse and many of my friends. It was just bloody brilliant and I will never get over that quote! On that note, this book is fantastic and I can’t wait to start the next in the series.

“Because,” he said, “I like to know the names of the people I despise. I keep them in a little book and pore over it from time to time, whilst sipping brandy and indulging in throaty, ominous laughter.”

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13 thoughts on “The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke, #1) by Tessa Dare

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