Summary from Goodreads:
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?
The Duke of Halford is having a bad year. Only he knows how terrible. And it’s about to get worse – his mother, desperate for grandchildren, has kidnapped him for the express purpose finding him a wife. Griffin wakes, hungover, as the ducal carriage arrives in the bachelor aristocrat’s personal Purgatory – Spindle Cove, home of wallflowers, bluestockings, and spinsters. The Dowager Duchess drags Griff into the Bull and Blossom and commands him to choose: which ever young lady he picks, she will mold into the Duchess of Halford. Just then Pauline – the outspoken, whirlwind barmaid – scurries into the room. She’s late for her shift, rumpled, and covered in something sparkly (she had a bit of an “accident” with a bin of sugar). And she has a dreadful accent (from the ton perspective). She’s perfect – perfectly able to scuttle his mother’s plans. Griff chooses Pauline.
“Her. I’ll take her.”
Any other young woman of the marriage-and-security seeking variety would have fallen all over herself in gratitude. Not Pauline. Practical, sturdy Pauline thinks Griff is absolutely cracked. She can’t go off and be a duchess. She’s a servant and not the best at that, besides which she has dreams. A dream to get her and her mentally challenged sister Daniela out of their father’s hovel for good. Pauline is saving money to open a circulating library. So Griff makes Pauline a deal: if she will come to London for a week and be the worst duchess candidate in history he will give her one thousand pounds, more than enough to stock her circulating library. Pauline agrees. Griffin’s mother is not to be underestimated. She takes Pauline into her confidence: she needs grandchildren, and quickly, before she knits herself to death. Pauline finds herself caught between two wounded, lonely people and she doesn’t know if she can keep either bargain.
When we first met Griff he was presiding over the orgy masquerading as a house party at Winterset Grange – the house party Colin and Minerva come across on their way to Scotland in A Week to be Wicked. The dissolute duke from that scene is no longer interested in shocking the ton. He just wants to ignore Society and shuffle off this mortal coil as the terminus of his illustrious family line. His heart is broken – his secret to keep forever – and it is Pauline who, despite her attempts at failing duchess training, becomes the duchess of his dreams.
Pauline creates her own fairy tale. Although she wears pretty gowns, learns the ins-and-outs of Society, and upgrades her accent underneath it all she’s still outspoken, independent Pauline from Spindle Cove who wants to own her own life. And that’s what draws Griff back to her.
Tessa Dare continues her witty, wicked Spindle Cove series in grand style, a Cinderella story for those hot summer nights. The story is stuffed with the witty trademark Dare writing we expect from the Spindle Cove series. Readers who have watched My Fair Lady, Pretty Woman, and Miss Congeniality will appreciate those influences on key scenes. There is knitting (the Dowager Duchess is a compulsive, though inexpert, knitter). And a trip to a bookshop (Griff fills Pauline in on the type of books people really want to read). And someone gets called a trilobite (you can guess who provides that sobriquet)!