The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Aug. 22nd, 2017 08:00 am
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Posted by Elyse


The Duchess Deal

by Tessa Dare
August 22, 2017 · Avon

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare is a fairytale Regency that blends Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella and Batman.

Seriously. And it’s amazing.

I actually read it twice. The first time I was at home on a Friday night, enjoying a few rum and Cokes and unwinding. Apparently I can have exactly two drinks before I start loving everything and then forgetting I loved it.

I woke up the next morning surprised to see that Drunk Elyse gave it five stars on Goodreads because I didn’t remember the end. I opened it up to a random chapter and was like, “Who the fuck is Trevor?”

So I read it again. But Drunk Elyse was right the first time. The Duchess Deal is full of Feels, and a hero who has his head up his ass, but is not completely oblivious to it. And it’s laugh-out-loud funny.

Emma Gladstone was kicked out of the house by her vicar father when she was found having sex with a young man. She walked all the way to London on a frozen winter night (losing a toe in the process) and pieced her life back together as a seamstress.

When the book opens she’s just completed the wedding dress for the Duke of Ashbury’s bride-to-be; unfortunately the wedding was canceled and Emma shows up at the Duke’s door to demand payment for the dress she spent so much time on.

Ash pays her, and offers her another deal as well. He was horribly wounded when a rocket went off near him at Waterloo, and as a result one side of his body and face is badly scarred. His fiancée broke their engagement off when she saw his injuries, and now he’s torn between wanting to spend his time brooding in the dark and knowing that he still needs an heir.

So he proposes to Emma. Sort of.

He sets the rules:

  • They will have sex at night – no lights, no kissing – until she produces an heir.
  • She and said heir will then go live in the country completely apart from Ash.
  • She will not ask about his scars or touch them or even think about them too hard.

Emma agrees because she doesn’t feel like dying in poverty when she gets old and her eyesight fails and she can’t sew anymore, but she immediately goes about making their marriage an actual partnership rather than the nonsense he’s proposing.

I love it when a hero is being all broody and struggling with his man-feels and the heroine is like, “Right, you can go sulk in the corner if you want, but I’ve got stuff to do.”

He’s all like “Look at my horrible, monstrous visage!” and she’s all, “They’re scars dude, chill the fuck out. You’re upsetting the cat.”

Emma is never appalled or frightened by Ash’s appearance. She accepts it almost immediately and as she begins to fall in love with him, it barely registers. It’s Ash who can’t move past the way he looks.

And while Ash does spend time sulking, he’s still pretty upbeat all the things considered. I got the impression that he liked the idea of being a monster rather than actually being one.

Like the rest of Dare’s books, The Duchess Deal is full of snappy banter and teasing and moments of utter and delightful silliness.

Such as feline interuptus. Emma and Ash are about to consummate their marriage when Ash senses an intruder in the room:

How the devil had someone slipped in?

Never mind, he told himself. That question could wait. The more pressing inquiry at hand was this: How was he going to kill the bastard? He mentally ran through the available weapons in the room. The fireplace poker would be most effective, but was out of reach. The sash of his dressing gown could make a decent garrote, in a pinch.

If needed, he’d fight hand-to-hand. His only concern was keeping Emma safe.

He rolled to his side and came to his knees, putting his body between her and the threat. “You have three seconds to leave the way you came,” he ordered. “Or I vow to you, I will snap your craven, knavish neck.”

The intruder struck first, leaping forward with a fiendish yowl.

Something that felt like a dozen razor-sharp barbs pierced straight through his nightshirt, digging into his shoulder and arm. He gave a stunned shout of pain.

Emma flung back the bedclothes. “Breeches! Breeches, no!”

The cat?

Claws. Teeth. Hissing.

The cat.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance novel yet where the hero and heroine have been interrupted by their pet, which is wild because I’m pretty sure everyone with a cat or dog has experienced this delight.

I also liked the fact that even though Ash spends a fair amount of time having a pity party for himself, he’s still pretty aware of the people around him and he’s never intentionally hurtful.

In this scene he and Emma are preparing to go to the theatre (a huge step for him):

She remained at the top of the staircase, hesitant. Well, and why wouldn’t she be. She was about to go out in public accompanied by a hideous monster in evening attire. One who flung hats and walking sticks about at random intervals.

“If you’d rather not,” he said, “it’s all the same to me. I’ve a report from the Yorkshire estate to look over.”

“Would you prefer to stay home?”

“Only if you prefer it.”

“I want to go. I should say, I’d hate to waste Mary’s efforts.” She touched a gloved hand to her hair.

What a horse’s ass he was. She wasn’t hesitating because she was concerned about his appearance. She was waiting for him to compliment hers.

A moment later:

Ash offered her his arm, and she took it. He escorted her down the staircase and out to the waiting carriage, mindful of her voluminous skirts, but never pausing. He refused to give any appearance of reluctance.

Tonight, it didn’t matter that he was scarred and hideous and would prefer to hide from society.

Emma deserved to be seen. And this night was for her.

I also liked that there was a really solid foundation for Ash’s Wounded Feels that didn’t come entirely from Ash being self-conscious regarding his scars.

Click for spoilers!
His breakup with his fiancée was truly painful and awful, and the rules about no lights, no kissing, seeing each other only at night and until she’s pregnant, and then living apart were originally the rules she set if they were still to be married.

And because we’re not done with the awesomeness, Emma becomes friends with some amazing (slightly eccentric) ladies who live nearby and are clearly sequel-bait. Female friendships FTW.

Now, I bet you’re thinking “But Elyse, you mentioned Batman earlier. Please explain.” When he’s brooding Ash walks the streets at night and, after chasing off some thugs who are robbing a woman, gets named the Monster of Mayfair by the press. The Monster’s nightly appearances get either exaggerated or entirely made up, and earn Ash the affection of a boy who is determined to be Robin to his Batman. It’s all adorable.

So I totally recommend reading The Duchess Deal, but preferably while sober so you can really appreciate all of it. It’s the perfect blend of two of my favorite fairytale tropes, it’s got a hero who never an alpha-hole, it’s funny, and it’s got female friendship. What more could you want?

Daily Happiness

Aug. 22nd, 2017 12:51 am
torachan: a cartoon kitten with a surprised/happy expression (chii)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Went to Home Depot today and got a new toilet seat, which is something I should have done a long time ago but just put off because, idk, I'd never bought a toilet seat before and it seemed overwhelming, I guess? But actually it was quite easy, as apparently they only come in two sizes, and it was cheap (got a good one for only $20), and now we have a toilet seat that actually stays put and doesn't slide around all over the place when you sit on it, which is pretty great.

2. I got the paid translation job done early in the day, so didn't have to worry about running up against the deadline or anything (and I'd done most of it by last night anyway), and now I just wait to get paid, which is always a happy surprise when it happens because this company pays at the end of the month following the month you do the work in. By then I'll have forgotten I even had extra money coming!

3. I got a chapter of manga translated, too, and vacuumed the house, and read a book, and just generally got a lot done today.

4. Jasper's getting to be such a big boy.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
The general fund currently contains $60.  Everyone is eligible to vote in this poll.  I will keep it open until at least Tuesday night. If there's a clear answer then, I'll close it.  Otherwise I may keep it open a little longer.

We currently have three open epics.  "The Inner Transition" belongs to Polychrome Heroics: Berettaflies and needs $308 to be complete.  "The Higher a Monkey Climbs" belongs to Polychrome Heroics and needs $161 to be complete.  "Two Foxes" belongs to Polychrome Heroics: Iron Horses and needs $169.50 to be complete.

Poll #18724 General Fund for August 15, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 2

How would you like to distribute the $60?

View Answers

ALL $60 into "The Inner Transition"
0 (0.0%)

ALL $60 into "The Higher a Monkey Climbs"
0 (0.0%)

ALL $60 into "Two Foxes"
1 (50.0%)

Divide it equally across the THREE poems
1 (50.0%)

sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[personal profile] sasha_feather posting in [community profile] access_fandom
This is from last year, and is a quite comprehensive post aimed at authors.

Corinne Duyvis and Kayla Whaley, writing at Disability in Kidlit:

Poem: "What Makes a Hoard"

Aug. 21st, 2017 11:19 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is from the August 15, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] janetmiles, [personal profile] mdlbear, and [personal profile] callibr8. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles.

Read more... )
[syndicated profile] askamanager_feed

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Should I let my ex-boss know he’s driving away new assistants?

In February, I started working part-time at a custom furniture company as an secretary/personal assistant. I had a lot to catch up on because the previous assistant had to leave to take care of a sick family member. It was rough adjusting at first, especially since my boss’ business is very small but busy. He was often in the shop working on projects and I would be in the office handling the administrative side. It was a trial by fire, but I quickly got the hang of things and my boss praised me for my efficiency and professionalism, even calling me the best assistant he’s ever had. I ended up getting a full-time job in my field but when I left, I found my replacement and he wished me luck on my next job. He said (jokingly) that one day he’ll expand his business to where he can hire me back.

A month later, he called me to tell me the new assistant was not a good fit after all. His complaints were the person wasn’t proactive enough and was making too many mistakes with clients and bill payments. He asked if I could find another replacement and offered to reimburse me for my time. I said yes because I could have used some extra cash. Again, I found some good candidates, he interviewed them, and he hired one. He paid me like we discussed and in my thank-you email to his new assistant (whom I was communicating with regarding payment details), I told her to feel free to email me for advice about the job.

Today, the new assistant emailed me that she intends to quit and complained my boss was too chaotic and demanding (he frequently gets angry at her for not knowing details that she is still trying to learn, doesn’t take the time to explain proper procedures, and ignores her when she tries to ask questions or clarify issues). I don’t blame her for leaving over this, but I didn’t have these issues when I started with him. This would be his second assistant in two months, and I’m betting he’ll reach out to me again to find a new replacement. I’m not going to, but I feel like I should point out that he is driving assistants away with this overly demanding behavior and impatience. Could I do that or should I just keep my mouth shut and let him have a rotating door of assistants until he figures out it’s not them, it’s him?

You could ask the person who emailed you if it’s okay for you to share her feedback, in general terms, with your old boss, explaining that you think it would help to understand where he’s going wrong. If she says yes, then it’s okay for you to point this stuff out to him. Otherwise, though, I don’t think it’s really yours to share — especially since your experience with him was different. In that case, though, you could still ask whether he might need to spend more time training people and answering questions and generally be more patient with them, given that he’s lost two assistants in two months. If you know first-hand that his standards are unusually high and his patience unusually low, and if you can see that it would be difficult for most people to work with him well even though you were able to, that’s fair game too — you could say something like, “You and I worked well together, but to be candid, I think someone would need to have a thick skin to do it — you can be pretty tough on someone who’s still learning, and (insert more details here). I don’t think it’s realistic to expect most people to thrive with that management style.”

But also — be sure that’s really the case before you say it. If you didn’t see the behavior that the second assistant reported to you, it’s possible that this really was about her being the wrong fit for the job, and that your boss would be fine if he hired someone more like you (resourceful and sharp, it sounds like). If that’s the case, he needs to reflect on who will and won’t succeed in the role, and figure out how to screen for that when hiring — but that’s a different issue.

Of course, none of this is your fight anymore, and you don’t need to get involved at all if you don’t want to. But it sounds like you have good will toward him and want to help him out, so those are all possible things you could point out to him.

2. The guy who insists on saying “good morning” individually to everyone

This is a question of very little importance, just annoyance. For context, I am a millennial woman who works in a male-dominated field and the majority of my coworkers are older than me. In general, everyone gets along great.

I have a coworker who is a contractor who is probably 15-20 years older than me. He’s nice. But every morning he has to individually say “good morning” to everyone. I even have headphones in and he’ll wave his hand in front of me to say good morning. I appreciate the sentiment, but sometimes I am in the middle of something and don’t want to be interrupted. Others, I just haven’t had my coffee and am just not that cheery. I know I should probably just suck it up, but is this normal for some people to say hi to everyone individually?

I feel like nearly every office has one of these — the really aggressive “good morning” greeter who will insist on being heard, even if you’re clearly in the middle of something else.

It’s mildly weird behavior, but there’s really nothing you can do about it without looking like a huge grump.

3. Can I renegotiate salary once I see the benefits?

I received a call from a hiring manager a few days ago offering me a job at a really exciting company in an exciting role. I was asked what my salary expectation was, and in my excitement, and unpreparedness, I said, “I’ve expected to go down slightly in salary for this position, so it’s $40K.” I basically low-balled myself big time. He said that he’d check with his manager and get back to me.

He got back to me the week after and said they accepted the offer. I screwed up, but I told him my salary expectation and have to accept that — I’m a man of my word. I have no intention of renegotiating the base salary. However, I had not at the time seen the benefit package, and have yet not seen it. I’m wondering if there’s an opportunity here for me to renegotiate slightly and add a bit more to my salary?

I currently make $45K at my current job, but it also comes with a bunch of different benefits. What’s your take on this? If I receive the benefits, could I respond with something like, “I currently make $45K, and also have these benefits. Is there any way you can match the benefits?”

It’s really tough to renegotiate salary once you’ve agreed on it; it usually comes across like negotiating in bad faith. But you’re right that the benefits provide a different road in. If they turn out to be significantly lower than what you’re getting now, you could say, “I hadn’t expected the benefits to differ so significantly from my current job. I’m currently getting twice as much vacation and my health insurance paid for. Factoring that in, the salary we discussed would be much larger cut than I’d anticipated. Would you be able to match the benefits I’m getting currently, or adjust the salary to compensate?” (You can really only do this with the big items like paid time off and health care. It doesn’t work if it’s about a paid gym membership or smaller stuff like that.)

Just make sure you get that benefits write-up soon, because the longer you wait the more this will seem like going back on your word. Contact them today about it.

4. Company wants me to pay my own expenses on a business trip

I’m exempt at a small but growing business. This year we were asked to go to a two-week training in another state during our vacation. The company paid for the training, but we were expected to pay housing, food, and all other expenses. I explained this was a serious financial hardship and they offered to loan the money up-front and then deduct it over the next months. I ended up going as it was that or lose my job. I’m certain this will happen again next year. How can I handle this better? I truly can’t afford it.

That’s ridiculous. These are normal business expenses, and your company should cover them. They’re asking you to pay part of their operating costs, and that’s not okay. It would be like them expecting you to chip in to cover the receptionist’s salary.

Try saying this: “I can’t afford those expenses, so how should we handle this trip?” If they offer to loan you the money again, say, “No, I really can’t afford to take on that expense at all.” And then stick to that — don’t budge.

You’ll have even more sway if your coworkers say the same thing as you. Ideally you’d all point out that these are business expenses that other companies cover as a matter of course; in a “small but growing business,” your manager genuinely may not realize that.

5. Can I ask my boss to set up a social Slack channel?

70% of the people I work with work remotely. There is a home office that the rest of our team officially works out of, but those folks are often on the road and working remotely as well. We get together once a year in person, but otherwise we don’t see each other in person. We use Slack a ton, and hop into phone calls and screen sharing at the drop of a hat. This is a highly collaborative workplace. People get along well and work hard to be positive in all of our interactions, but it can be kind of weird to work intensely with someone without knowing what they even look like!

I think it would be helpful for us to have a Slack channel that would function as a sort of breakroom or water cooler. I would love to know if someone wanted to share a great recipe or if anyone had a recommendation for a toaster oven, that kind of thing. How can I ask my boss to create this without sounding like I’m looking for a literal channel to goof off? (My boss and I get along fine and I don’t have a reputation for goofing off at work and I’d like to maintain that.) I think it would help humanize our workplace and make it easier to cultivate positive relationships.

Is this a reasonable request? Our team works together really well right now as it is, but we are growing and have some new folks here who are still a bit shy about jumping into calls and Slacks because they don’t want to bother anyone. I also sometimes get a little cagey at home and I want to interact a little more casually with the people I work with for 50 hours a week! What do you think? Should I ask for a channel? If so, how should I phrase the request?

Sure, that should be fine to do (assuming you have a decent manager who doesn’t jump to negative conclusions about people). You could just say it this way: “Since so many of us work remotely and it can be hard to connect personally the way we would if we were all in the same place, what do you think about creating a Slack channel as a sort of water cooler to do things like share personal news, get a toaster recommendation, or so forth? I don’t think people would over-use it and it could be a nice way to help people feel more connected and engaged with our team.”

should I tell my ex-boss he’s driving away assistants, aggressive good-morning greeters, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Stealing Your Lime Light

Aug. 22nd, 2017 12:04 am
frith: Violet unicorn cartoon pony with a blue mane (FIM Twilight vexed)
[personal profile] frith
Upstaged [69]

I did a silly solar eclipse joke for my Summer Sun Celebration cake, so this time I considered an "upstaged pony" interpretation. Pinkie being eclipsed by Cheese in party entertainment skill is a gimme, but the expressions where Dash upstages Twilight during her carefully planned Applebuck Season speech calls me. Draw a flabbergasted pony, draw a wide eyed pony. Check!

Mostly on model this time. Dash has obviously had too much hay to eat, but I did fix her right eye, giving her more focus than in the original by expanding her iris to better match her left eye. Twilight's horn is still a pain to get pointing in the right direction, to get it at the right spot on her head and to get it to taper correctly. Eyes too. So many circles, so hard to size and orientate. This sketch is close enough to perfect that I don't dare touch it any more. Gotta go to bed anyway.

Poem: "Only in the Gift"

Aug. 21st, 2017 10:41 pm
ysabetwordsmith: (muse)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
In return for a beautiful day and a truly stellar performance from the Sun God and Moon Goddess, I am posting one of my eclipse poems for free.  You can see some of my eclipse photos here.

"Only in the Gift"

I have seen the moon-shielded sun
and the Father God winking
as he turns his one wide eye
back toward the waiting world 

a reminder that we live,
moment by moment, 
only in the gift of
his infinite light.
[syndicated profile] boingboing_feed

Posted by Cory Doctorow

Peter Biddle writes, "I get I myself into trouble. I don't claim that bad stuff happens to me more often than others - it's more that I find more ways to happen to bad stuff. I actually found a way to get severe hypothermia in 105°F heat." (more…)

Monday Update 8-21-17

Aug. 21st, 2017 08:53 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Artwork of the wordsmith typing. (typing)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
These are some posts from the later part of last week in case you missed them:
Sunday Yardening
Poem: "To Appreciate Small Victories"
Heroic Action
Poem: "The Bamboo That Bends"
Saturday Yardening
Poem: "As Couples as Possible"
Crowdfunding Creative Jam
Poem: "The Whole of Civilization"
Bust of Lincoln Destroyed (54 comments)
Read "Absent the White Roses" by William Altolft
Poem: "Lycoris"
Read "Under Cover Fashion" by Bairnsidhe
Today's Adventures
Promoting a Better World
Hard Things
Poem: "Tricky Treats"

Today we saw the eclipse in Chester, IL. :D 3q3q3q!!!

The bonus fishbowl last week went well.

Poetry in Microfunding:
"The Inner Transition" belongs to Polychrome Heroics: Berettaflies.  Valor's Widow finds out what Stylet has in his backpack.  "The Higher a Monkey Climbs" belongs to Polychrome Heroics.  Pips gets worried about Jules and drops by for a visit.  "Two Foxes" belongs to Polychrome Heroics: Iron Horses.  Kenzie hears that the Iron Horses are going after the gaybashers, and feels uneasy over his own reactions.

Weather has been warm to hot here.  Currently blooming: dandelions, marigolds, petunias, lantana, million bells, snapdragons, zinnias, firecracker plant, white and red clover, morning glories, spiderwort, echinacea, blackberry lilies, Queen Anne's lace, frost asters, cup plant, black-eyed Susan, torenia, purple aster, rose campion, some yellow thing in the wildflower garden, thistle.  

Don't @ me

Aug. 21st, 2017 08:52 pm
jadelennox: Westing Game: the bulletin board says "braided kicking tortoise 'si a brat" (chlit: westing game: turtle)
[personal profile] jadelennox
There are two types of people in the world:

People who think Abbey Road is the best Beatles album, sorry Sergeant Pepper,
And people who are wrong.

(Sergeant Pepper is second. Obviously.)

Artist Training Grounds VII, Day 22

Aug. 21st, 2017 08:47 pm
frith: Bust of white pegacorn with flowing multi-colour mane and closed eyes (FIM Celestia stamp)
[personal profile] frith posting in [community profile] ponyville_trot
Source: [37]

Day Twenty-Two is the solar eclipse across the US day: "Draw a pony star gazing / Draw a pony being eclipsed". Day, night or overshadowed/outshone/surpassed/upstaged, pick your pony and fill out the submission form. The gallery of the day is over here. OMG, it's full of butts!

Mind that deadline. It's midnight Mountain Standard Time, which is 3 AM Eastern Daylight Savings Time and 8 AM UTC. There's usually an extension on top of that, somewhere around three hours.
[syndicated profile] boingboing_feed

Posted by Gareth Branwyn

Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal is at it again with a smart, funny, and very relevant look at how we construct our beliefs, build our reality tunnels, and why we react so forcefully when the core assumptions of that belief system are threatened.

Read the rest of it. Nice touch that there are two version, one with colorful language and one clean, "classroom-friendly version."

David McRaney's You Are Not So Smart did a wonderful 3-part series on the backfire effect. You can access the first episode here.


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