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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Review: Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare

Tessa Dare did it again! This book did not disappoint! And is anyone else trying to sing the title to the tune of Do You Wanna Build a Snowman or is it just me?

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: September 27, 2016

On the night of the Parkhurst ball, someone had a scandalous tryst in the library. Was it Lord Canby, with the maid, on the divan? Or Miss Fairchild, with a rake, against the wall? Perhaps the butler did it.

All Charlotte Highwood knows is this: it wasn’t her. But rumors to the contrary are buzzing. Unless she can discover the lovers’ true identity, she’ll be forced to marry Piers Brandon, Lord Granville—the coldest, most arrogantly handsome gentleman she’s ever had the misfortune to embrace. When it comes to emotion, the man hasn’t got a clue.

But as they set about finding the mystery lovers, Piers reveals a few secrets of his own. The oh-so-proper marquess can pick locks, land punches, tease with sly wit . . . and melt a woman’s knees with a single kiss. The only thing he guards more fiercely than Charlotte’s safety is the truth about his dark past.

Their passion is intense. The danger is real. Soon Charlotte’s feeling torn. Will she risk all to prove her innocence? Or surrender it to a man who’s sworn to never love?

What is an unmarried miss to do when she is caught in the middle of what promises to be an epic scandal with an equally unmarried marquess? Well Charlotte Highwood stubbornly sets out to find out the identity of the mystery lovers at the Parkhurst Ball. If she doesn't, she's going to have to marry Piers Brandon, the Marquess of Granville aka the coldest, most unfeeling man she's ever met. Only, when Piers and Charlotte are alone, he's not as cold and unfeeling as everyone believes. Working together brings out the best and worst in them and may not lead to solving the building mystery of just who was in the library with Piers and Charlotte that night?

With Do You Want to Start a Scandal I’ve learned that you can feel homesick for a fictional place/time you’ve never been to and characters you’ve only met in passing. I didn’t realize how much I had missed the characters of Spindle Cove until I opened this book and got reacquainted with Charlotte Highwood. I literally sighed and said “Hello Charlotte, nice to see you again.” Charlotte has been around from the very first Spindle Cove book, along with her matchmaking, over the top mama and her two sisters, Minerva (A Week to Be Wicked) and Diana (Beauty and the Blacksmith).

Often the most ignored character in the past, Charlotte is now grown and her mama is still with her matchmaking schemes. I loved Charlotte for so many reasons but the main one was that she was insistent that Piers see her as more than just a wife, she demanded to be his partner and that he treat her as an equal. But more than demands she proved she could be a true partner to him. She had a natural talent for solving difficult mysteries which went well with Piers’ own occupation. Charlotte was equal parts charming, intelligent, determined, and loving in a way that didn’t overwhelm or annoy. I just felt she was so genuine and she didn’t realize that she wasn’t as unaccomplished as she had thought. Her mind worked differently than say, her sisters’ but she was no less amazing than they were. Which brings me to the nice little reunion with Diana and Minerva, along with their husbands. Oh how I loved those few bits. It may have served to give closure to the Highwood girls’ stories but it also made me nostalgic for the entire Spindle Cove series. I have so many favorite Charlotte moments that they belong on their own list. She was such a fun character!

Piers was still a relatively new character to me. He was the fiancĂ© of the heroine in Say Yes to the Marquess from the Castles Ever After series. Not much was really told about the man who spent eight years away from his fiancĂ© only to lose her to his brother. That’s okay though because Piers was much more suited to Charlotte who wouldn’t let him get so serious and dour that he forgot to smile and have fun once in awhile. I actually liked his serious personality because it made it all the more special when Charlotte got him to relax and be more himself. To everyone Piers seemed like an indomitable creature with no feelings what so ever yet I thought he was a man who felt too deeply and tried to close himself off. He had a natural instinct to protect the helpless and a charisma that I don’t think he was even aware of. All in all a very dashing figure. I honestly like him better than his brother Rafe.

Piers and Charlotte kind of reminded me of Colin and Minerva (A Week to be Wicked) just because they were so different from each other but at the same time, there was a hidden trait or hobby that connected them and allowed them to be in each other’s company which in turn gave the budding romance a chance to grow. There was a clear physical attraction between them but with the mystery of the secret lovers needing to be solved, Piers and Charlotte got to know each other pretty well. I liked the mix of heated moments and shy revelations between the two. The best thing to me was that I never felt like Piers was running roughshod over Charlotte. Oh he tried to in order to “protect” her but she wasn’t having any of his shenanigans and told him so to his face! That was one of my favorite scenes involving these two.
He gestured at the burned floor. “Those undergarments had it coming to them. They attacked me first.”
“Good Lord.” She stood back a pace. “I can’t decide if you’ve gone completely blockheaded, or if you are trying to make yourself detestable.”
“You tell me.” He gestured at the left side of his face. “I thought the eyebrow oracle revealed all.”
“Yes, well. It’s difficult to look at your eyebrow when your head is so far up your arse.”

As the story takes place at the home of Charlotte’s best friend Delia, there aren’t that many supporting characters in Do You Want to Start a Scandal. I liked Delia and hope she’ll get a story soon. I really couldn’t stand Edmund, Delia’s brother. He was quite the annoying little boy and I could have definitely done without him. He drove me nuts with his over the top behavior. Thankfully his scenes were few. Delia’s sister Frances had a bee in her bonnet and never quite got it out. She was a hateful thing in my opinion. So really it boiled down to just Delia.

I’ve always enjoyed Tessa Dare’s books but this one in particular had such an easy pace and smooth scene transitions that it was just effortless to read. I genuinely missed the characters of Spindle Cove and their oddities. Add in a mystery, the possibility of ruin, and viola! Insta-fun! I sure was sad to reach the end of this book.

Final Verdict: Do You Want to Start a Scandal brings back the magic of Spindle Cove while still keeping things fresh and new with that much missed Tessa Dare flair.

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