Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

DUCHESS


Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (260 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

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?

There is much to recommend a book that takes on an unconventional match, challenges the hero and heroine to find common ground and does it with a healthy dose of humor topped with a sweet touch of sentiment and respect. Throw in a few naughty shenanigans and this book entertains completely.

I had to rate this story as hot because of the role playing scene. I didn’t expect it. In fact, I really didn’t think the hero had it in him to be so spontaneous and delightfully wicked, never mind the fact that the heroine blossomed from such eye-popping attentions. Inasmuch as I found myself steaming under the collar, I was laughing too. The whole scene, as well as the scenes before and after certainly kept my attention riveted. It was well written, tight and very effective. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t have been hot.

The very first thing that tickled my funny bone happened right in the beginning with the ankles. That faux pas was just a hint of the kind of mix-ups and silly hijinks the hero is going to have to deal with throughout the book. Griff is a fun hero. His mother laments that he’ll never make her a grandmother. The reason why he’s against marriage and having kids is what gives him depth and allowed me to feel like he was a perfect hero for Pauline. He has an internal conflict that squeezed my heart. Poor Griff. It will take an unconventional woman to get past the barricades he’s erected around his heart.

Pauline is as unique, unconventional and independent as they come. Her circumstances are such that I was extremely glad Griff saved her. True, she’s saving him too, but once a reader understands the life she’s been forced to endure, the urge to see her not-so-fairytale dreams come true is strong. The heroine is a hard worker, loves her sister and is loyal to a fault. She’s the best and worst thing that could happen to Griff and I enjoyed watching her unravel him.

For a tough old biddy, Griff’s mom turns out to be delightful. I think it was her knitting that endeared her to me. Once I understood its significance, I wanted her to be happy too. Watching her trying to teach Pauline the finer points of high society was highly entertaining. Fans of My Fair Lady should find some delightful correlations between the two; without the singing of course.

One of my favorite parts was the line drawn in the sand. The Griff that appeared in the beginning of the story is not the same Griff who squared off with his childhood pal. That was a turning point for him as a man and that’s when the happy ever after became more of a real possibility. It’s not smooth however, not by a long shot. Pauline throws Griff a curve that he never saw coming. Her inner strength allowed her to choose that step but it was hard to see it happen. Obviously, Ms. Dare knew the hero had a touch more growing to do before he deserved his full happily ever after.

Dialogue was a strong aspect of this tale. I love the ‘flutterings’ and other fun euphemisms; they gave the story charm.

Any Duchess Will Do is saucy, sexy and a whole lot of fun. I enjoyed watching Griff and Pauline fall in love. Their ups and downs, plans and foibles and Griff’s tender and respectful handling of the heroine’s sister truly made this a wonderful read. The characters are written in wonderful detail with emotions, humor and memorable antics. The happily ever after is simply beautiful and full of good feelings and joy. I highly recommend this book.

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