The Duke of Ashbury was disfigured in the war by a bomb blast. Hiding away from the world, he glowers at his staff from the safety of his library only venturing out at night to vent his temper on the miscreants of London. Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter, now seamstress living on her own in London, dares to brave the Duke in order to gain payment for the wedding gown she tailored for his ex fiancee. Although he is scarred, she isn’t frightened by his appearance, and bravely negotiates payment. The Duke, not one to look a gift seamstress, er horse in the mouth, decides that she will do as a wife and strikes a deal. After all, he must see that his line continues since he doesn’t want his idiot relative to inherit his estate.
This tale takes on the beauty and the beast theme but crosses it with a more modern wounded warrior trope that is now popular in more contemporary novels. I liked the novelty of a historical romance novel exploring the wounded warrior theme. Tessa Dare did not scrimp on the adjectives used to describe this Duke. He was burned down one side with patches of hair on his head. His looks were not romanticized and yet Emma was not frightened, nor turned off by his looks. In fact, she still viewed him as strong, intelligent and Duke-ish, despite those scars. I really liked Emma’s attitude! She flirted, teased, and yes vamped it up for this Duke. She made him love her, despite viewing himself as a “monster”. Just as the beast in the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast”, he braved showing himself off to the world and in his mind facing ridicule and worse in order to make sure she was safe from harm. This is a hero I can get behind!
I loved these two as a couple. Their verbal sparring was fun, and the heat factor, oh my! These two burned up the pages!
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