Love sometimes comes from the most unexpected of places.
In The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke Series #1) by Tessa Dare, Emma Gladstone is the daughter of a vicar who works as a seamstress and has been on her own since she was a teenager. The last thing she is looking for or expecting is say I do, especially to a member of the aristocracy. The Duke of Ashbury has two scars to deal with: the physical scars from the war and the emotional scars from the breakup of his engagement. Emma walks into the Duke’s library wearing what would have been his fiance’s wedding dress, demanding payment for her labors. But the Duke has another idea.
He proposes marriage, but there will be conditions to the marriage. The marital bed is only for procreation of a necessary heir, the marriage is a marriage of convenience and once Emma is pregnant, she will retire to the country to raise their child. But Emma, who reluctantly says yes to the proposal, has conditions of her own: Until such time when she is confirmed as pregnant, they will have dinner together and talk like a married couple during dinner.
At first, Emma keeps her part of the bargain, until she starts to fall for her husband. But the Duke is the harder nut to crack. Despite his intentions of limiting their marital relations, it’s becoming harder to keep his hands off his wife.
I normally don’t read these kind of books, but I found this book to be well written. Ms. Dare easily hooks her reader and has created two lead characters who stand out from the standard lead characters that readers encounter in the genre. Emma is intelligent, strong and not afraid to say what is on her mind. While the Duke initially comes off as this brooding Heathcliff type, he is slowly revealed to be a man who loves passionately and deeply, but also lives with multiple emotional scars that have not healed.
Do I recommend it? Yes.