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Continuing with the Genre Challenge:

Read an historical romance

For this part of the challenge, I read Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal, published in 2017. This was actually my romance book group’s choice, so it dovetailed nicely with this challenge.

Having never read Tessa Dare, I didn’t know what to expect. For one, I didn’t expect it to be as funny as it was – actually to the point of being absurd at times. And, I noted that the comments that followed AAR’s review of the book were sprinkled with readers remarking that it seemed more modern than historical. Perhaps that’s why I liked it more than they did since my preferred subgenre is contemporary romance.

Anyway, the story is set after Waterloo. The Duke — our hero, Ash or Ashbury — was badly injured and scarred during his military service and, upon his return to England, he finds that his fiancé cannot abide his appearance and will not go through with the match, despite his extreme wealth. Ash, however, wants an heir so that he can keep his lands and duties out of the hands of unworthy relatives. Because he believes himself too ugly to attract anyone and his temper too ill, Ash ends up proposing a marriage of convenience to a young dressmaker who has come to him requesting payment for the elaborate wedding dress she was making for his former fiancé. The dressmaker, our heroine Emma, is not without her own history. Emma is the daughter of a country vicar. Having been found in a compromising situation, she was tossed out of her home and had been making her own way for six years, trying to earn enough money to open her own shop. (This situation puzzled me a bit. You’d think it would be the dress shop owner demanding payment for the dress, not Emma the employee.) In any event, Emma ends up accepting Ash’s proposal, seeing it as a way to gain money more quickly and to help a friend who is facing her own compromising situation. The deal – from which our title comes – is that Ash and Emma will “work” to get her pregnant, then Emma will be given her own estate to raise the boy which will be Ash’s heir. Unfortunately, for both Ash and Emma, though, Emma is not physically repulsed by Ash and begins to wish for a more loving relationship with him and Ash cannot keep himself from desiring Emma for more than just sex.

The side characters in this story are plentiful and many are amusing – including a cat. You can see the possibility of future stories in not only Emma’s group of friends, including the young lady who was in trouble, but in one of Ash’s relationships, with a young man who befriends him. I agree that the story was sometimes a bit too screwball and the thoughts and reactions might be considered modern. At times, that did leave me shaking my head, but I enjoy sarcasm so much that I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the thoughts and reactions both Emma and Ash had – especially Ash. For that reason, I’d give it a B+.


The Cocktail Challenge – 10 down – complete

Alphabet Challenge – 10 down (A, B, C, G, H, J, K, M, P, & Q) – complete
Genre Challenge – 4 down, 6 to go