By Tessa Dare
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare is a wonderful retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Emma was a seamstress, making dresses for all the fashionable women of the ton but barely able to survive on her own.
“She took the measurements from one shoulder to the other. When she inhaled, she drew in the the masculine scents of shaving soap and rich cologne. None of this was helping with her focus problem. ‘You’re not writing these measurements down,’ he said. ‘I don’t need to. I’ll remember.’ Unfortunately. Whether she wished it or not, Emma knew this encounter would be burned into her memory forever.”
When she gets stiffed payment on a wedding dress, she decides to storm the home of the jilted groom, the Duke of Ashbury, to demand payment.
“Nevertheless, the decision was made She’d sealed her own fate. If she meant to escape him, she’d missed her chance. He’d be damned if he let her get away now.”
Emma is an extraordinary heroine. She overcame a difficult past – rejection, being outcast, and surviving by herself as a woman in London. When the Duke makes her an offer of marriage, she knows it is her best chance to move up the ranks of society.
The Duke, or Ash as he was known among friends, left war with horrible scars covering half of his body. He is ashamed of his fearful appearance and spends his days isolated at home.
Like Belle before her, Emma enters the home of the beastly man with hopes of making a better life for the people around her. She encounters a waitstaff that is eager for their employer to find love and happiness.
“Well Emma had no intention of apologizing. His growled confessions were the best things she ever heard. She only hoped she could remember them long enough to write them all down in her diary tomorrow.”
I found Emma to be so appealing, someone with a truly good heart. Meanwhile, Ash was kind of annoying. At first he was teasing and abrasive but I thought it may be his defense mechanism. But as we got to know him better, and interestingly as Emma fell more in love with him, he became more self conscious about his scars and his insecurities were debilitating at times.
Review by Michele W.