The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

September 7, 2017

"Am I blue
Am I blue
Ain't these tears, in these eyes, telling you"

I seem to be going through some rough times with my authors and their new books. I have opened a number of them only to find I am not able to finish them. There is just nothing which keeps me turning the pages. So, when I opened up Tessa Dare's latest, The Duchess Deal, I was hopeful. I like Ms. Dare. She usually writes pretty interesting books with light touches throughout. As with Julia Quinn, I know what I'm getting with a Tessa Dare story, but this time it just didn't strike the right chord with me. So, now I'm blue because I'm running out of new books to read.

As I've said a gazillion times, I like to read books with humor and I think that The Duchess Deal was supposed to be funny - but I had a hard time working up any laughs. All the funny moments and the characters in the book were just a little off.

First of all, there is the Duke of Ashbury, aka Ash, and he's blue too. But not because he read this book - no, he's the star of the book. Ash is horribly scarred so he is sulking throughout most of the book. He's mean, nasty, and filled with self-loathing and he is bound and determined to make everyone around him feel blue too. His fiancée took a look at him and ran from the room, breaking the engagement. Her run from his horrible scar also destroyed a ton of his self-esteem - boo-hoo. You've heard of mean drunks; well, Ash is a mean scarred hero, which is why it's hard to work up any sympathy for him. It's also hard to find any humor in the situation and his pity-party lasted way longer than it should.

Then we have Emma. Emma was the best character in the book. Emma accepted changes which most women would not. Emma grabs the bull by the horns, so to speak. She's a seamstress, a mighty fine one, and she's just spent hours and hours on a wedding dress and now the wedding's off. She has not been paid for that dress. She has knocked on the bride’s door - no success. So she barges into the groom’s house and demands payment. Well, what she gets isn't exactly what she thought might happen. You see, Ash is that groom/ex-groom and he has come to the conclusion that any woman will do for a bride. All he's interested in is an heir and now here's this strange woman in a really ugly dress, even though it is crafted well. He offers her a deal: be his wife, have his child, then disappear into the country with said child. Emma weighs her options. She can starve or she can marry a mean-scarred-stranger. She picks the stranger and food.

Even though Emma seems to be a timid person, she starts changing things right away - very subtly. She decides that she may be bedding a stranger but she's also going to make some kind of a life for herself. Now here's some of the problems I had with this story. I never understood how she could so easily fall in love with Ash. I like my angst-filled heroes to have some kind of redeeming quality. There has to be some kind of glimmer of a reason for a heroine to fall in love with him. I just could not see it. He made it hard for anyone to feel sorry for him. He was constantly belittling her and everyone around her. He didn't want her to touch him, didn't want to hear her, didn't want anything to do with her and still she kept coming back for more. I also didn't understand why he needed an heir if all he was going to do was plant his heir in the countryside along with Emma. He had no plans to get to know his child - so why did he need one? He hated the world so much I didn't understand why he should care what happened to his estate once he kicked the bucket. It didn't make any sense.

And, then there were the secondary characters, whom I'm assuming are going to have books of their own. They were just silly and their differences were all outside things - one fixed clocks, one was a scientist-baker, and one saved animals. Hopefully their books will have some character-building.

I don't know. I was just very disappointed in this book. Everything was soooo over the top. The goofy friends, the weird cat, the boo-hoo-I-have-a-scar hero, and the I'm-going-to-save-everyone heroine. I felt the most sympathy for the heroine, but then I didn't understand why she would fall in love with a mean sourpuss. There are other ways to beat someone up besides using a fist, and Ash degraded Emma with his words.

I didn't find the book funny and I was very disappointed in this work. That doesn't mean I will not never read Tessa Dare again, it just means that this book wasn't one of my favorites by her.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Mechanical


satwinder p said...

I so agree. I heard so much hoopla about the book but all I got was flat fluff. It got more ridiculous chapter by chapter....could not finish. Boo hoo for me for buying the book.

SidneyKay said...

Satwinder: Yes, I've been digging through my old books for something to read. While I love my old books muchly - I would love to read a new "good" book.