Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare
Book Five of the Spindle Cove series/Book Four of the Castles Ever After series
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
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 I Liked:
This book was LOVELY. I can't think of a better word to describe it. This is Tessa Dare at her best - with a funny, charming, sexy, heartwarming story. Charlotte is a kind yet busybody-type, and Piers is a seemingly cold yet haunted and brooding type, and the pair make for a bickering, opposing, passionate couple. I loved this story!
At the Parkhurst ball, Charlotte Highwood goes to find Lord Granville. Her mother is determined to see Charlotte marry this marquess, but Charlotte wants to let him know that she has no intentions of doing so. Unfortunately, while Piers and Charlotte are talking, another couple comes in. Piers and Charlotte hide, but the couple have sex, making a lot of noise. They leave, and while Charlotte and Piers look to leave too, they are "discovered". Piers does the honorable thing in offering for Charlotte. But Charlotte thinks that finding out who the mysterious lovers were will set everything to rights, making it possible for her and Piers not to marry. But she slowly discovers that this seemingly cold, proper lord is quite charming, sexy, and has excellent instincts and skills. Charlotte wants to marry for love, and she's falling in love with Piers. But does Piers love her back?
Tessa Dare sure knows how to create, craft, and develop characters. This sounds so basic, but Dare really has a talent for this. I've read many of her books, and I've found that all of her characters are so lifelike, and very likable. Often times I have issues with heroines in historical romance novels, but I didn't have any problems with Charlotte.
Charlotte is adorable and kind, a bit of a busybody but in a well-meaning way. She's perceptive in her own way, and she definitely means well in everything she does. The problem is, much of what she does (and means well, in doing), ends badly. Getting caught with Piers, unchaperoned? The opposite of what she'd intended. Marrying him? Not part of the plan. She wants to love the man she marries, and vice versa. Charlotte doesn't stand up to her overbearing mother, but she is rebellious at times. I like that Charlotte is a mix of sweet and feisty. I like that she fits the bill of a twenty-one-year-old of this time period, and yet she is somewhat independent and strong-minded too.
Piers. Oh Piers. This review could be entirely about Piers and I bet I'd convince all of you reading this review to read the book, just because of Piers alone. We meet Piers in Say Yes to the Marquess, in which Clio, his intended, marries his brother Rafe. You'd think Piers would hold this against Rafe and have a grudge about Rafe taking his bride, but Piers is very supportive of the pair. Piers and Clio's would-be marriage was arranged for quite some time, and neither had any inclination toward each other.
Piers seems proper and almost cold, perfect polite with sparsely changing facial expressions and excellent perception. He's clever and extremely intelligent, but he has difficult with emotions. Piers had an awful childhood, one that Rafe does not remember or know (Rafe is several years younger). my heart broke for Piers over and over. The poor man knows to do his duty as a marquess, and wants others to be well and taken care of, but he has no notion of love and doesn't want to feel romantic love for anyone, nor does he want anyone to feel that love for him.
Piers, guys. The man is SO swoony. He may seem proper, but he is a live flame underneath his magnificent cravats and waistcoats. He wants Charlotte badly from the start, but also wants to do right by her. He protects her, as well as her reputation and her family, without fail. He takes care of Charlotte, and even though they are secretly engaged, he lets her be. Piers is a barely restrained alpha male, controlled and leashed, but he is also very charming and kind and sweet. He reminds me of Lord Darcy in Lady Bridget's Diary, except perhaps swoonier? Piers is, well, *sigh*.
The romance is so sweet, and steamy, and mostly sweet. I loved seeing the pair interact. Most of the time they are gently bickering, in which Charlotte is bothering Piers, and Piers is faintly amused. Piers then teases Charlotte, Charlotte is shocked, etc. There are lots of passionate kisses, and then sweet words, and basically I was sighing and hugging this book for the entire duration of the story.
The little mystery isn't as big of a part of the series as I expected, which I was totally fine with. Don't get me wrong, it's an important part, but I like that Piers and Charlotte's relationship was a little more important. Charlotte and Piers (mostly Charlotte) do the investigating and find out who the mysterious lovers are... it's quite the twist!
Did I mention the humor of this book yet? All of Tessa Dare's books are quite funny, and this novel is no exception. I love the humor! Some of scenes were downright hilarious.
Something cool about this book - it's part of TWO series! The Spindle Cove series (book five) and the Castles Ever After series (book four). I've read books from both series (all four of the Castles Ever After books, and three of the Spindle Cove books), and I've really enjoyed all of the books I've read. Charlotte is specifically part of the Spindle Cove series, and Piers is specifically part of the Castles Ever After series, and here we are, joining the two. I love how Dare did this! It was tricky when labeling the series at the top of my review, but you'll notice that I put both in there.
Anyway! I'm quite pleased with this book. I haven't read a Tessa Dare book that I didn't love, and that is saying something. I love historical romance novels, and Tessa Dare is an auto-buy/auto-read author for me, every time. She's definitely a favorite historical romance author of mine!
What I Did Not Like:
I know I'm not giving this book five stars, but it's not because there was anything specific that was wrong with the book. I wish, in the end, that Charlotte was the one to give chase, but at the same time, they both gave chase, in the end. Both erred and both corrected (though it was more effort on Piers' part). But that wouldn't be cause for me to drop the rating. I loved this book, just not as much as I loved other Dare books.
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend this novel! If you love the Spindle Cove series, or the Castles Ever After series, or historical romance in general, this is definitely one NOT to miss. I rarely say that about historical romance novels, so get on that! Tessa Dare's books are unmatched in their humor, wit, and sexy times. (Seriously, her books are on the more steamy side of historical romance, usually!)
4.5 stars. I hesitate to round down, but at the moment, I'm not feeling a 5-star rating! I'm stingy with those, but who knows, I may change my mind (this is rare). I absolutely adored this book. While I'm sad to see both series end, I'm excited for the new series that Dare is writing!
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