I just love my beastly heroes! Ash was irresistibly delicious; emotionally and physically scarred and longing for a loving touch. Emma, beautiful and strong though not without her own bad experiences, was perfectly matched for Ashbury. Behaviors and conversations certainly veered into the modern world, but their antics (sexual and otherwise) and growing mutual affection kept me distracted and eager for more. An entertaining romp that's sure to please historical romance fans. 4 stars.
I hurt for Emma also. All her life she had tried to earn the approval of her vicar father. Her search for approval led her to make a decision that caused her father to turn his back on her and kick her out of the house in the middle of winter. I was impressed by her strength and resilience as she made her way to London on her own and carved out a place for herself. Through it all, she still tends to see the good in people, which has on occasion come back to bite her. I also like the way that she has no trouble standing up for herself, hence her trip to get Ash to pay the bill for the wedding dress.
I loved the development of their relationship. The sparks between them are intense from the start, even though both try to resist. Ash does everything he can to keep Emma at an emotional distance but fails miserably. With each passing day (and night) the walls he has built around his heart begin to crumble. He doesn't go down easily, but the fall is inevitable. I loved seeing his confusion as the more he tried to push her away, the more trouble he had keeping her off his mind. It wasn't long before he felt an intense protectiveness toward her. I loved what he did when he found out about her father's actions. His tenderness and care after the confrontation with his ex at the opera were incredible. It was obvious by then that he was a goner.
Emma knows that Ash doesn't want any emotions between them. She's okay with that because she's had her own run-in with love and it didn't turn out well. But she can't deny that the man behind the scars pulls at her heartstrings. She sees a man capable of great caring who refuses to believe that there is any good left in him. I loved the way that she teased and bullied him into taking the first steps back out into society.
The heat between them was intense. In spite of his intention to bed Emma without emotion, he was completely unable to do so. I loved how he was so careful to make sure that he didn't hurt or frighten her. His surprise at how passionate she was made it even more difficult to maintain his distance. I ached for him and his fear of letting her see all his scars. Emma's ability to look past his scars was fantastic. She was curious but didn't make a big deal out them. They certainly didn't impact the way she burned for his touch, and how she slowly worked her way past his guard. But all that intensity also created a belief in them that it couldn't last. I ached for them both as secrets revealed hit both of them in their deepest fears. I liked Emma's strength of will that made her continue with what she felt was right in spite of Ash's reaction. I loved how it was Khan that made Ash see the error of his ways. I was on the edge of my seat as Ash was determined to make things right, but ended up being waylaid. His big moment at the end was incredible as he faced his biggest fears all because of his love for her.
I loved the secondary characters in the book. Khan was fantastic with his lifelong devotion to Ash. He was another person who would stand up to Ash when he was an idiot. I also loved the way that he and the other staff members could see that Ash and Emma belonged together. Their attempts to throw the pair together so that they would fall in love were funny and heartwarming. I really liked the three women who included Emma in their group. The scene with Emma and Alex as they were fixing all the timepieces in the house was hilarious. I loved their support of Emma and their suggestions for what Emma should call her "cat" was great. The cat was another grand addition to the story, from the way he became part of the family to his intrusion into their bedroom. Last but not least was Trevor, the "apprentice" to the Monster of Mayfair. I loved his complete devotion to Ash and his absolute refusal to be run off.
Maria C. reviewed The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke, Bk 1) on
I have read this so many times I've lost track. I love the chemistry between Ash and Emma. Their snarky conversation makes me snort time and again, read after read. When they finally kiss (no kissing was allowed as part of their deal), I am always touched. Love this love story. I can't wait to read it again.