Tessa Dare has done it again. She's introduced another of Spindle Cove's very special ladies to an unsuspecting man and created a magical story about love, loyalty, friendship and being true to yourself. For those who haven't read the Spindle Cove series, ‘Any Duchess Will Do’ can be read as a standalone easily.
Griff and Pauline, aka the Duke and the uncouth serving girl... (yes it’s a bit My Fair Lady’ish) ... is a delightful story. Griff's mother the Duchess is sick and tired of waiting for him to settle down. So she decides to drug him, kidnap him, and head towards Spindle Cove so he could, once and for all, choose a bride. But Griff one ups her by choosing Pauline, the unpolished serving girl who literally stumbles in covered in flour and sugar and swearing away.
Griff strikes a bargain with Pauline... if she completely sabotages Griff's mother's attempt to turn her into a proper lady, then he will give her £1000 to make her dream come true and open up a book shop. Simple really... but what these two did not count on was their strong chemistry...
Pauline is a fearless character, she makes the book for me. She isn't one to mope and throw pity parties for herself despite her harsh upbringing, her horrible father and a series of lessons that are patronising and a Duke who can be cruel sometimes even if it’s to hide how he truly feels. She faces every conflict with dignity and courage. All around her, Pauline brings out the best in people and grows during her experience with "Duchess Lessons." She never forgets where she comes from but she takes what she learns and applies it to her everyday life.
The banter in the book is great and there are many my timeless pearls of wisdom, one of my favourite quotes:- "No, no. Not in a mirror. 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 you enjoy tales of reformed rakes and transformed working classes, you will love ‘Any Duchess will Do’...
This was a really good read. Duke Griff is kidnapped by his mother who takes him a village with a large population of well born ladies. She intends to make him choose a wife as she is sick of not having grandchildren.
To spite her Griff chooses a bedraggled barmaid Pauline and says if his mother can get her to pass as a highborn lady in a week he will marry her. What follows is the dowager duchess teaching Pauline to pronounce 'h' properly and growing sexual tension between the barmaid and the duke.
I thought the author could not make this crazy premise work but she did. I really enjoyed the humour...Pauline's wit and asides are the highlight of this book. She is probably the most likeable romance heroine I've encountered. Not sure that I found the last chapter totally believable, but this was a minor flaw in an excellent book.
4.5. Tenderly sweet yet funny Cinderella story with a twist, full of lovable characters you just want to hug. Griff was the gruff desirable duke who hid his piercing heartache from the rest of the world, including those closest to him. Forced by his meddling but loving mother to pick a bride from a tavern full of young ladies, he picked the one least likely to succeed at first glance - Pauline. Our slightly klutzy Cinderella heroine came from humble origins, who had learnt to overcome obstacles in her way by never losing sight of her own worth and her dreams. The role of fairy godmother goes to Griff's mother, the current Duchess of Halford, who despite her impeccable regal manners could not suppress her true self - a clucky, soft hearted, compulsive knitter-of-unidentiable-asymmetrical-baby-garments. There were so much heartbreak in their stories, it was easy to empathise with them. Just a matter of taste, but the book could have been better without the incongruous S&M sex scene.