Size Doesn’t Matter (68): Beauty and the Blacksmith; Any Duchess Will Do

Size Doesn’t Matter (68): Beauty and the Blacksmith; Any Duchess Will DoBeauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cove #3.5
Published by Avon Impulse on April 30, 2013
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 148
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book Depository

At last, Diana gets a romance of her own! But with the last man anyone in Spindle Cove expects...

Beautiful and elegant, Miss Diana Highwood is destined to marry a wealthy, well-placed nobleman. At least, that's what her mother has loudly declared to everyone in Spindle Cove.

But Diana's not excited by dukes and lords. The only man who makes her heart pound is the village blacksmith, Aaron Dawes. By birth and fortune, they couldn't be more wrong for each other...but during stolen, steamy moments in his forge, his strong hands feel so right.

Is their love forged strong enough to last, or are they just playing with fire?

“Beauty and the Blacksmith” is a hodge podge mix of good and bad, and it lacks that anticipated Tessa Dare almost entirely. This brief novella took me three days to read, which is unprecedented basically. I didn’t quite dislike it, but it definitely needs work.

The problems with “Beauty and the Blacksmith” can be laid solely at the door of the ship. There are multiple problems but they all come back to the relationship between Diana Highwood and Aaron Dawes.

  1. If you take too kinda boring people and smush their faces together, the result is going to be kinda boring.
  2. Diana and Aaron are already all sappily into one another at the start of the novella. I have no sense of what made them fall in love, aside from the physical attraction. Add this to the lack of banter and I have no idea of what these two are going to do when they’re not having sex.
  3. Seriously, I’m not sure how this is going to play out once they’re married. Diana’s got major horn for Aaron’s massive muscles and he hired a cook, but she’s dropping way down in society and she’s pretty useless at most household stuff so I don’t get how this is going to last once the honeymoon phase lust cools.

It’s a problem when you don’t ship a couple in a romance novel. Basically everything hinges on that, which means the characterization needs to be on point with each and every one. In that sense, “Beauty and the Blacksmith” is definitely a bit of a fail.

However, there are some things that Dare did really well in this novella that stand out from the rest of her books.

  1. Diana turns out to not give a shit about her position in society. Aaron’s worried about her reputation but Diana gives no fucks basically.
  2. This sets up for the funniest scene of the novella, in which View Spoiler »
  3. Diana gives HERSELF away at the wedding.
  4. Diana admits to masturbation and sexual fantasies with zero shame, and this is pre-devirgining.

I’m not really sure how much I buy Diana as this person based on who she’s been in the rest of the series, but whatever I really loved the feminist no-fucks-to-give of this novella.

So I’m glad I read it but it was also a bit of a chore. If only Diana and Aaron were more interesting people (aside from Diana’s random strength of feminist character).

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif can i have him for my birthday
Diana in a nutshell

Size Doesn’t Matter (68): Beauty and the Blacksmith; Any Duchess Will DoAny Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cove #4
Published by Avon on May 28, 2013
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 375
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

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?

I’m beginning to suspect that I’m in some sort of weird slump where I’m still reading but I’m just not feeling things like I should, because Gillian and I just did not get the feels on this one. Any Duchess Will Do was still fun though, even without the shippy feels I missed out on.

Dare comes up with such delightfully silly plots for her historical romances, and Any Duchess Will Do is a perfect example of that. Griffin York’s mom has started hounding him to wed, so they end up making a She’s All That type wager: if his mom can train a random woman of choice into a perfect duchess in a week, he’ll wed her. Griff, being the guy he is, chooses a barmaid, Pauline.

My biggest obstacle here, aside from perhaps the weird slump, was Griff. Not Griff in this book but Griff from A Week to Be Wicked. He was SUCH a gross creep, and it was really hard for me to set that aside. I mean, he’s reformed (of his own volition and nothing to do with the heroine), but STILL. He was so incredibly icky. That put a damper on things for me. Most romance heroes have a checkered past, but usually I don’t have to see them making passes at unwilling women like with Griff.

When I managed to forget that (something that happened off and on), I did like the ship a lot. Pauline’s sass and a half, and I love her attitude towards all this ridiculousness. She has her plan to open a library with the money she’ll earn from a week of playing at duchess, and she plans to have all the fun she can while she’s at it, mostly by irritating Griff. Her relationship with Griff’s mom is aces.

More good fun from Tessa Dare but I’m still awaiting another ship that really works perfectly for me. It’s pretty much just Minerva and Colin for Spindle Cove so far.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif belle beast books beauty and the beast


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