What’s a duke to do, when the girl who’s perfectly wrong becomes the woman he can’t live without?
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.
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?
Let me preface this review by saying I’m an unabashed Tessa Dare fan. It began with the first Spindle Cove novella, Once Upon a Winter’s Eve, and steamrolled from there. While impatiently waiting for the next book in the Spindle Cove series, I plowed through her entire backlist. And while I loved some books more than others, not once was I disappointed.
Pauline Simms is a barmaid at The Bull and Blossom, Spindle Cove’s unique tea room by day, tavern by night establishment. She’s strong, loyal and cusses like a sailor. What I adored most about Pauline was despite her being a serving girl, she aspires to something greater. A Duchess? Absolutely not. What she wants is to open a recirculating bookstore in Spindle Cove, to fill the shelves with poetry and romance and a little naughtiness as well.
Griffin York first appeared in Colin and Minerva’s story, A Week to be Wicked and he was a bad, bad man. Okay, not really. He was the stereotypical wealthy nobleman of many a historical novel who spent an exorbitant amount of money and time drinking, gambling, and bedding numerous women. He was a bad boy Duke with the reputation to prove it. But it became very clear early on that Griffin had changed. Drastically. Something so traumatic happened that not only made him change his ways, but retreat from society as well.
The progression of their relationship is very organic, both acknowledging this undeniable attraction between them. Also their class difference is a very prominent plot point. While Pauline finds a future with Griffin impossible, he doesn’t. Neither does his mother. It’s not that they are ignoring society’s established rules, but their vast wealth enables them to do what they want. If you are the fourth richest man in all of England, making people like you probably isn’t necessary or a priority. Also, I love that Griffin repeatedly points out his past is far from exemplary.
I would be remiss to not mention Griffin’s mother, the Duchess of Halford, as I regard her as the very best of secondary characters in the Spindle Cove series. First impressions led me to believe she was going to be an overbearing woman, forcing her son to produce an heir for family and country. Happily, I was proven wrong in my assumptions. It was lovely to see a mother with genuine concern for her son’s future happiness, even if she couldn’t bring herself to tell him this directly. And despite being the well-bred English rose, she too has her own quirks and imperfections.
Any Duchess Will Do certainly has a “My Fair Lady” quality, as well as “Pretty Woman.” When Griffin confronts a London bookseller regarding his mistreatment of Pauline days earlier, you know how it is going to end. You know what’s coming and love it despite its predictability. Writing characters that readers come to know and love is Tessa Dare’s specialty. Many of the tropes used have been seen time and time again in historical romance, but it’s the characters, who make us laugh and cry, that make this series truly special.
For those who’ve read the entire Spindle Cove series, the epilogue ties everything in a lovely bow, giving readers’ one last glimpse into the lives of characters we came to know and love. If you haven’t read any of the series, might I suggest you start at the beginning with A Night to Surrender and move on from there? You won’t be disappointed.