Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (226 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

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?

Talk about a story that twists like a pretzel. Do You Want to Start a Scandal has to be one of the most surprising of stories because it’s not all like I was led to believe. This novel is full of red herrings and goose chases and I was perplexed for most of it because it’s a mystery. However, the means of sleuthing and the reasons for it are unlike any I have ever read and I found it kind of funny.

I don’t think it’s set up as a true mystery; the book is a romance through and through, and a good one. However, the intrepid heroine, Charlotte, is determined to solve the mystery of the garter because in doing so, she’ll be able to clear her reputation. However, as the story goes on, I’m not convinced that she’s convinced that it’s really her goal at all.

I liked Charlotte and her way with words. One of my favorite lines comes her speaking with the hero. She’s not supposed to like him, but what is a reader to think when she accuses the hero of having a “masculine lip elixir”? I totally snorted when I read that.

Another belly laugh came from the part when Charlotte’s mother tried to explain marital bedroom activities using vegetables and fruits. I had a fit of the giggles when the heroine turned the tables on her mom with a bit of creative questioning. I also liked that the heroine was not afraid to show the hero what it’s like to simply have fun, like when she started playing with his hair – the descriptions inspired more giggles. It’s Charlotte’s zest for life, optimism and sense of adventure that is her charm. She’s straightforward, vocal and amazingly sharp-witted. She’s an excellent foil for a serious minded, proper stick in the mud peer who just happens to live a daring and dangerous double life.

Charlotte is oil, Piers is vinegar, and when they mix, they create a spicy blend that flavors the salad of life so well that they simply can’t go back to being who they were before they met. Granted, Piers makes some spectacular blunders and makes me question his judgment, and Charlotte inadvertently gives the wrong impression to another lady of the ton, much to her consternation, and that makes her fallible too. They are not perfect characters but they are perfect together.

I think the only thing that was slightly over the top was Piers’ ability to find a missing bit of cloth that Charlotte desperately wanted found. The where and how of it seemed like an impossibility. Also, I really wished someone would have taken Edmund in hand. The kid was a menace. That child should have been in bed, sleeping.

When the mystery is finally solved, it’s done in a spectacular style with an eye-popping revelation. Somehow, I don’t think anyone in the vicinity of the great revelation will ever forget that night. Certainly I won’t. That scenario was a first for me and I credit Ms. Dare on providing me with a most unique and singular reading experience.

There is no doubt that Do You Want to Start a Scandal is an entertaining, engaging and romantic read. It can boast two strong characters, an interesting mystery twist and a seduction of the senses. There’s humor and clever use of quips and dialogue not to mention delightful descriptions to bring the romance alive for readers. It’s truly a story well worth reading.

Speak Your Mind