Author: Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cove, #4
Publish Date: May 28, 2013 (Avon)
Rating: Staying in Tonight
Format: Digital ARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss
Summary: Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season—or any season—but his diabolical mother abducts him to “Spinster Cove” and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence. Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever. He chooses the serving girl.When I first laid eyes on Any Duchess Will Do, I was immediately struck with a bad case of Instalove. Hearts began popping up around my head, and "This Magic Moment" started playing in the background. Such an interesting premise! The duke and the serving girl? Duchess lessons a la The Princess Diaries, albeit with an older, more rakish Michael for me to swoon over? WANT. While the actual story did not exactly wind up aligning with that particular idea I had in my head, I was immensely pleased with it nonetheless.
Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn’t dream about dukes. All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop. That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week’s employment. Her duties are simple: submit to his mother’s “duchess training”… and fail miserably.
But in London, Pauline isn’t a miserable failure. She’s a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure—a woman who ignites Griff’s desire and soothes the darkness in his soul. Keeping Pauline by his side won’t be easy. Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess—can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?
Pauline was an interesting character. She was a serving girl in Spindle Cove. She was practical, rational, and direct, but she also had dreams. She was loyal and supportive of her sister Daniela, who had a developmental delay of some sort, and their relationship was very touching. She was hilariously unqualified to be a duchess and had an unfortunate habit of cursing and...well, basically, lots of things a duchess shouldn't do.
Griff was staunchly against the idea of getting married, but he did not want to tell his mother the true reason. While this is made clear early on, the reader is given no clues as to why. So you're simply left wondering until the answer comes flying out to you over in left field and hits you right in the gut. His anti-marriage feelings aside, though, I liked reading about Griff from the beginning. He was just so utterly ducal. In a good way.
I also had a real soft spot for Griff's mother. She was quite amusing, and I wound up caring about and enjoying scenes with her more than I would have anticipated. I also loved seeing the little cameos with some of the old Spindle Cove characters! That made me smile a lot. In fact, Griff himself had made an appearance in one of the preceding books, which I had completely forgotten about until it was mentioned.
Of course, some of the elements of the story were predictable. It was, after all, "the practical girl's fairy tale." But the majority of it was not what one would expect. And all of it, predictable or not, was thoroughly enjoyable. There was a scene with a goose that had me giggling uncontrollably. Dare amped up the hotness factor, and there may have been a scene or two that left me fanning myself and reaching for a cool glass of water. Whatever the scene, I loved reading about Griff and Pauline and how they dealt with their accidental, inconvenient feelings.
I usually associate Tessa Dare with humor. I tend go to into her books expecting a fabulous romance and a lot of laughs. And I got them. But with this book, I got quite a few tears, as well. Some were good, and some were bad. I was not anticipating such an emotional read! While it is by no means the next Steel Magnolias, I would keep a tissue or two handy while reading.
Basically, I guess the moral of my story is this: When it comes to Any Duchess Will Do, expect the unexpected. It will surprise you. It will make you cry. It will make you fall in love. So let it. Experience it. Enjoy it. Love it. Spindle Cove is one of my favorite historical series, and Any Duchess Will Do was a wonderful installment. I am already eagerly awaiting the next one!
EDIT: I have just been informed that this is, in fact, the last Spindle Cove book. Pardon me while I go weep in a corner. I do look forward to seeing what Tessa Dare has in the works for us in the future, though!
Pauline looked to the window, expecting a pig to fly through it. A pig strumming a lyre and speaking Welsh, perhaps.
I was hoping to hear something like, ‘I have a creeping skin disease.’ Or, ‘I hoot like a barn owl when I reach orgasm.’ Those would be deterrents. I’m not sure the second is strong enough, actually. Curiosity might win out over trepidation.
I know how mirrors work. They’re all in league with the cosmetics trade. They tell a woman lies. Drawing her gaze from one imagined flaw to another, until all she sees is a constellation of imperfections. If you could get outside yourself, borrow my eyes for just an instant... There’s only beauty.
If there was anything better than the smell of books, it was the smell of books mingled with the scents of strong tea and spice biscuits – and all of it on a rainy afternoon.
*All quotes from ARC or galley, so final copy may differ.