Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tessa Dare - Any Duchess Will Do

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?

Comment: This is the last apparent book in the Spindle Cove series. The author has said this is the last one but she might return to it one day. I feel sorry to leave this little corner of the romance world because I liked how different the heroines were and how special each story was.

This is Griff's story, he's a duke, wealthy of course, and his mother is at the end of her patience for him to marry, she's eager for grandchildren.
Griff however, only wants to avoid the issue due to a secret from his past. But he doesn't want his mother to feel bad, so he prefers to act like the bad guy and make her angry instead. For that he will find any excuse not to marry, until she drugs him, bring him to Spindle Cove and makes him pick any woman so she can turn her into a real duchess. Trying to call her bluff, he chooses the maid, Pauline, but is surprised when his mother not only accepts but as Pauline makes an act of being ironic with the situation. But after a deal made Griff will see Pauline isn't as simple to read as he thought...

Well, I liked this story a lot. I think it has a lot of situations to feel eager to read and the feel of the story is one to be curious about and to enjoy.
I know some readers didn't like the fact the romance between a peer and a commoner was unlikely to be credible. But I think, this being romance and not literary fiction, I don't mind the author taking me to a fantasy romance where I can like the characters and root for them. Of course, the society wouldn't approve but I like I could be transported to a place where what mattered was what was happening between those two and that they were both worthy on their own to be the loved one of the other, no matter their origins. After all, the main issue in romance is to build a good relationship between the protagonists and to make them be in love and in sintony with each other. For me, this book was a hit on all that.

I liked the story's plot line. How Griff wanted to avoid marriage so he made a deal with Pauline, but she was so much more than what was on the surface. 
She might be poor and uneducated but she taught herself and she was kind and she knew how to behave. She just had bad luck to be in a family that didn't allow her to become more. She never let her position in life to rule her behavior towards others or to turn her bitter or lazy or uncaring. I liked how Pauline showed herself to be special and caring and understanding and realistic. She knew her romance with Griff wouldn't end in anything but she still supported him and helped him and was there for him when he needed to share his secrets and fears.

Griff has a secret which isn't bad but changed him and the way he saw the world around him. I was touched by the way he described what happened to him and how that made him think differently about his life and the way he lived before. He still had a funny side and he was planning to gave fun with the whole Pauline situation. But things aren't as simple as that and a bond grew between them.

Their relationship may have started because of a deal, of a game of making fun of society and avoiding his mother's attempts, but when two people start talking and seeing int he other someone who they can trust and hold on to, I think this is a great example of a good romance, a good base to support a relationship and I liked how they've tried to ignore society and do the right things at the end. Still, love was stronger than that, communication was also important and love prevailed.

Only one thing didn't seem as good for me, how the intimacy started between them, because I was so focused on how balanced their relationship was, even with all the truths being thrown at each other and the little disappointments attached to it - which in a way helped them secure honesty -, I still would have liked a bit more care in the relationship turning intimate. I know, it isn't such a big deal but I admit I wanted that part of their relationship to have started a bit more romantic.
Also, some parts of the story would be slower in pace but it wasn't obvious why and it confused me. It only happened once or twice but it still stayed in my radar.

Overall, I really liked this one, the fantasy, the truths behind many words and actions, and I liked how two different people can dream to belong together and make a happy family and ending. A great story to cherish!
Grade: 8/10

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