Now I feel I must give a quick disclaimer before I begin this review in earnest - I honestly don't know what to make of ADWD. On one hand I did enjoy reading the novel - Tessa Dare is undoubtedly one of my favourite historical romance authors - and on the other hand the plot is considerably arbitrary and unrealistic.
Pauline is a bold and strong willed heroine who has dreams of supporting herself and her sister, escaping her abusive father. Griff is a man haunted by his recent loss determined not to marry, despite the best efforts of his scheming mother. In an attempt to thwart his mother Griff decides to select Pauline as the subject of her proposed 'duchess lessons', she is "perfect" for failing the role - graceless, common and coarse. What follows is the strangest mix of Cinderella and My Fair Lady that you're likely to read.
Griff and Pauline's romance spans a week, nothing unusual by romance novel standards, and develops fairly typically. The unpolished nature of Pauline's attitude appeals to Griff who has seemingly been rejected by society which he, in turn, treats similarly. This part of the novel did confuse me, I don't think Dare adequately explains at any point the mutual feelings of disregard between Griff and society and the idea that no one will marry Griff is preposterous, he's a handsome duke!
The romance in the novel is undoubtedly sweet, with some particularly steamy scenes for those wondering. Griff's defence of Pauline is heartwarming and her honest and candid nature is certainly a balm for his broken heart. The ending was perhaps a tad saccharine for me but the grand gesture is sure to melt many a reader's heart. Dare maintains her usual witty and sharp style throughout with her reputation for the raunchier scenes being, once again, well deserved.
I know I am definitely swimming against the tide here with my opinion of 'Any Duchess Will Do', and I'm still not sure what my opinion actually is! I get the feeling that Spindle Cove is Dare's more playful series and while it is obvious that she had great fun writing the novels and readers are having an equally good time reading them, I just don't think they're for me.