Dealing With the Duchess
I’ve just finished reading The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare, the first book in her new Girl Meets Duke series.
If I’m sighing after finishing a historical romance, I know it was a good one. Tessa Dare tends to be a bit hit or miss for me. Her books are usually funny, but can lean towards silly, which in a historical context can sometimes become a bit ridiculous. The first book I read by her was Romancing the Duke and it was just not my jam, I only gave it 2 stars. About a year later, I decided to give her another chance because I could not stop hearing about When a Scot Ties the Knot and I was not disappointed. It was funny, romantic, and ultimately charming. I highly recommend it. 4 Stars. I followed that up with a couple of her Spindle Cove books, but then never finished the series. I do plan to finish it, I already own most of them.
Perhaps I should explain how I tend to rate historical romance in general before I get into the nitty gritty of the book itself.
My all time favorite authors in the genre are Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Elizabeth Hoyt, Sarah MacLean, and Loretta Chase, but sometimes even my grande dames only get a 3 star rating from me. I tend to stick with Regency, but sometimes stray into the Georgian or Victorian eras. I very, very rarely rate something 1 star and that is merely because I would only rate a 1 star for something I truly hated and usually if I’m hating a book, I’d just toss it in the DNF pile. I only have 4 books rated with 1 star. A 2 star rating from me, would be something that I finished, but would never read again, it probably induced eye rolling, but I finished it, hoping it would get better. A 3 star read was enjoyable, but a bit weak, maybe anachronistic, but a nice story nonetheless, quite a lot of my romance reads fall into this category. I’ve rated most of my favorite romances with 4 stars, while only a select few have merited 5 stars, usually after a reread. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure most of my 5 star ratings in any genre have been reread. A 4 star romance needs great characters, wit, banter, and of course swoon worthiness. And just who received the coveted 5 stars? To name a few, The Essex Sisters series by Eloisa James, The Wallflowers series by Lisa Kleypas, and of course, the book with the greatest, most ridiculous title of all time, Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (with a title like what, how could it be anything except 5 stars?).
Back to The Duchess Deal. The book is about the Duke of Ashbury, a bitter man, scarred in at Waterloo, in need of an heir, hence in need of a wife. Enter Emma Gladstone, vicar’s daughter, with a past of her own, working as a seamstress when she crosses paths with Ash. She meets his requirements in a wife, mainly that she’s there and doesn’t flinch when she looks at him.
Down on her luck lady? Scarred and broody duke? I’m in, but then, I'm always in for a good brooding.
The banter in this book is just fantastic. I listened to a good portion of the book on Audible. It was read by Mary Jane Wells, a dazzling narrator, I loved her reading of the Ravenel books by Lisa Kleypas. This book was witty and amusing without being overly silly. I was only four chapters in when I had to text Karissa, my bookish bff, to tell her about it, I just knew it was going to be great. It was a very fun read. I usually prefer a bit more depth in a 4 star read, but it toed the line very well. Dare’s books are short, so there isn’t always time to get into the side characters the way I would like to, but in this case, it just makes me more excited to read the next book, The Governess Game, due out in August. I can’t wait to read about Alex and her duke, whom we have already glimpsed. Emma and Ash’s romance is lovely, not quite angsty, it never delves into melodrama, which I could have seen happening, but would have been unnecessary. Don’t be shocked, but it ends happily.
Oh, and I’d say it’s a 4ish on the scandalous scale, if you’re keeping track.
I was going to call this post The Duke and I, but then I remembered that’s a rather fabulous book by Julia Quinn. Maybe I’ll do some individual posts on my favorite authors later.