The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Narrated by Mary Jane Wells
Historical Romantic Comedy. Standalone First In Series.
I have always assumed historical novels were not for me. Though there have been a few I have enjoyed, for the most part, they are third-person, and I am really a first-person girl. But I had no idea there was historical romantic comedy! When my friend Danielle told me to just trust her and read it, I took a chance because I was looking for something different, and I grabbed the audiobook of The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare, narrated by Mary Jane Wells. Within minutes I knew I would enjoy this change of pace. Within a few more minutes, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. A short while later, I was giggling out loud. I didn’t want it to end!
The Duke of Ashbury has had a rough time of it since returning home from the war a scarred man. His fiancé couldn’t stand the sight of him and the wedding was called off. But despite his awful scars, he still needed to produce an heir.
“Your Grace, I regret the interruption, but there’s a young woman to see you. She’s wearing a wedding gown.”
When seamstress Emma Gladstone barges into his home wearing the wedding dress she crafted for his former bride-to-be and demands payment, the broody, sour-tempered duke has another suggestion. She marry him and produce an heir, and then she is free to do whatever she wants.
“I’m offering you a title and fortune. All you have to do is lie back in the dark, then spend nine months swelling up like a tick. What could possibly deter any woman from accepting?”
He has terms: No lights, no kissing, no questions.
“Your days will be yours to do whatever you wish.” His voice darkened. “Your nights, however, will belong to me.”
But Emma is a feisty one. And though she isn’t stupid enough to turn down an offer to be a Duchess, she has a few rules of her own, including dinner together every night, including conversation.
The Duke has a dry, sarcastic, self-deprecating humor that both made me laugh and feel sad for him. His outside scars caused so many inside ones. This was a true Beauty and the Beast story.
“There.” He stood back, chest heaving with exertion. “I made you a fire. You may now admire my manliness.”
I absolutely LOVED Emma! She was no historical shrinking violet. She had a backbone and stood right up to the nasty Duke. She also couldn’t care less about his scars. She saw the handsome, strong man beneath them. And despite him pushing her away, she insisted they behave like husband and wife. And her constant stream of nicknames for him made me laugh out loud through the whole book. Hearing her call this grouch “lambkins”, “sweetmeat”, “precious angel muffin”, “bunnykins” and more just cracked me up.
When the Duke’s soft side came through all the crustiness, I couldn’t help but swoon.
“You are wet, and you are cold. You don’t like being cold. Therefore, I despise you being cold. I would go about murdering raindrops and setting fire to the clouds, but that would take slightly more than an hour. Perhaps even two. So we’re here, and you will cease complaining about it.”
- So funny!
- Her nicknames for him.
- How feisty Emma was.
- All of Emma’s friends.
- How he was a softy with a rough shell.
- You can’t help but feel for what he has gone through.
- She had no issues liking and wanting sex.
- How she loved to tease him.
- I can’t think of any.
I think Mary Jane Well’s narration enhanced this book and made it even better. Her proper accent speaking the old words and her delivery of funny lines was spot on. She is also the first narrator I didn’t have to speed up.
The Down & Dirty:
Rating: 5 Stars, 4 Heat, 5 Narration