Monday, September 26, 2016

[ARC Review]: "Do You Want to Start a Scandal"

romance novel, historical romance, tessa dare, do you want to start a scandal
Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare
Publisher: Avon (September 27, 2016)
Series: Spindle Cove, 5
Genre: Historical Romance

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?



Where to Buy*:
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My Review:



Do You Want to Start a Scandal kicks off with a fun chapter, and the fun only continues from there!


It's not secret that while my first love was historicals, it's been a few years since I've consistently read the genre -- nothing has been grabbing my attention like it once did. But this? This was engaging and kept my attention from start to end, as I know Dare's books always do.


So back to the fun beginning. Charlotte's mother is determined to marry her off, and knowing that Piers is on her mother's list, she tries to warn him away. In the middle of their discussion, a couple comes into the library and they hide to avoid any scandal at being found alone. Charlotte and Piers must hide behind the curtains listening to two very, er, amorous people go at it mere feet away. And the sounds! Poor Charlotte has to hide her face in Piers's shoulder at one point to avoid laughing out loud from it all. The couple escapes after they are, ahem, done, but before Charlotte and Piers can do the same, they're found in the library -- and the host's young boy, having overheard the mysterious couple, believes that the sounds came from them! While the boy thinks the sounds were that of someone being killed, everyone else knows all to well what really caused the sounds.



"Ah!"

Grunt.

"Oh!"

Grunt.

"Eeeeee!"

Good heavens. Was the woman reeling with pleasure, or reciting vowels in grammar school?

[...]

The lovers' pace quickened, until the creaking became a sharp, doglike yipping noise. The unseen man released a throaty crescendo of a growl. "Grrrraaaaagh."

Charlotte lost the battle. The laughter erupted from her chest.

All would have been lost, if not for Lord Granville's hand sliding to the back of her head. With a flex of his arm, he brought her face to his chest, burying her laughter in his waistcoat.



Charlotte does not wish to marry Piers, especially not because of a scandal that didn't even happen. She wants to marry for love, and only love. Piers doesn't love her, but he is ready to marry her -- both because it's the right thing to do and because he finds Charlotte fascinating. Marriages have started from far worse, after all. But Charlotte is determined to find out who the mysterious lovers were in order to prove that she and Piers were innocent and therefore cancel the engagement. And so begins a fun journey as Charlotte acts the sleuth -- with an actual spy (sort of) at her side.



"I can't agree to a convenient arrangement, my lord. Your devotion to duty may be admirable, but 'lie back and think of England' simply isn't for me."

His voice became low and dark. "I cannot promise you everything you might wish, but I promise you this: When I take you to bed, you will not be thinking of England."

"Oh."

When he'd spoken of bedding last night, he'd left her speechless.

This time, he left her breathless.



Of course the attraction bubbles between them, while fondness grows as well, and Piers doesn't want to call off the wedding. Charlotte's tempted by Piers as well, but she doesn't  feel the same about the wedding plans as she's unsure of who she is or what her strengths are, and believes that jumping into marriage -- especially when there's no declarations of love -- will lead to her becoming just another lady sitting at home and managing her husband's affairs. It's up to Piers to show her that she's got a lot to offer the world. Can he convince her that even if this all started over a fake scandal, he wants nothing more than to live the rest of his life with her?


Seriously, there were soooo many fun -- and funny! -- scenes and quotes. I highlighted quite a few to share on Twitter. Perhaps the one that made me completely lose my composure and start giggle-snorting was the eggplant and peach scene. Yes, I'm sure you know where I'm going with that, and you'd be right. Charlotte's mother was trying to give a "Here's what to expect on your wedding night" talk, complete with food props. I just about died reading that entire section. Here's a snippet:



"Is this the actual size?"

"Not every gentleman's is quite that size. Some are smaller. Some may, in fact, be larger."

"But most are not quite so purple, I hope." She picked up the two items and pushed them against one another, frowning with confusion. "How does the aubergine fit inside the peach?"

Her mother's face contorted. "The peach produces a sort of nectar to ease the way."

"A nectar? How fascinating."

"If the gentleman is skilled with his aubergine, it will not be so very painful."

"What about the lady's skill? Shouldn't the bride to know how to please the aubergine?"

Her mother was quiet for a moment. "He might . . . That is, some gentleman might wish to be . . . er . . . stroked."

"Stroked. How does one stroke an aubergine? Is it like stroking a kitten?" Charlotte laid the eggplant fruit across her palm and brushed it gently with a fingertip. "Or like strokes of a hairbrush?" She increased the vigor of her motions.

Mama gave a sort of strangled squawk.

"Here," Charlotte said, thrusting the vegetable into her mother's grip. "Why don't you demonstrate?"



And that's only a fraction of the scene. It's a few pages of golden LOL perfection.


But that was definitely not the only scene that made me laugh or smile. Most of my highlights fit that category. SO MANY GOOD QUOTES.


There's also some very swoon worthy scenes because Piers is great and I loved seeing him and Charlotte together.



"What's your plan, Agent Brandon?" she whispered. "Do you mean to kiss me so long and so hard that I'll forget your identity?"

"No." His hand slid to the back of her head, tangling in her hair -- so tightly she gasped. "I mean to kiss you so long and so hard that you'll forget yours."



There's a good deal of heat, too, not explicitly hot, but not exactly PG-13, either. One thing I really loved was the fact that Charlotte, while a virgin, was not ignorant about her own body.



"Like this," he whispered against her ear, moving his hand in a firm, unrelenting rhythm. "Deep. And hard. Over and over."

"Please . . . " She gasped. "Don't stop."

"Never. I'll never stop until you come." His thumb circled the swollen bud at the crest of her sex. "You do understand what the means? You've touched yourself here?"

Charlotte nodded, breathless. "Innocent, not ignorant."

"Good."

His approval emboldened her. She began to move with him, seeking more of the exquisite pleasure he gave. She did understand the paroxysm of pleasure a woman's body was created to feel, and she had learned how to bring it about herself. But it had never, ever been like this.



The "mystery" was a fun surprised, and one that I wondered about but wasn't sure of until the very end. When it's revealed, it definitely put a smile on my face. I won't spoil it, you'll just have to wait and see.


I will admit that I didn't always love Pier's somewhat pushy "do whatever to get things my way, for Charlotte's own good, of course" actions. Such moments were brief, but still made me want to give him a quick slap. Otherwise, I did love him and very much enjoyed this story.



"As I see it," he said, "there are two ways we could handle this."

"Oh?"

"I could make a staid, proper announcement of our intended nuptials, kiss the air above your hand, and engage you for the next minuet."

"Hm. Very lordly. What's the second?"

His left eyebrow quirked with wicked intent. "It involves declarations of mad, passionate love. Ample application of lips. Multiple waltzes where I hold you indecently close. Your brothers' mild displeasure, a possible swoon from your mother's quarter . . . and enough gossip to fill the next three issues of the Prattler."

Charlotte pretended to think about it.

"What will it be, my love?" He offered his arm. "Shall we make a few stitches in your tattered reputation? Or do you want to start a scandal?"

She threaded her arm through his. "With you? I'll take the scandal any day."



If you're looking for a charming, sweet and fun historical romp, you do not want to miss out on this one! You can read it as a standalone (I'm behind on the two series that this book connects to -- Spindle Cove and Castles Ever After), but trust me when I say that once you've tried Dare's witty writing, you'll be back for more.


4 STARS! 


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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via Edelweiss.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Tessa Dare; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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If you can't tell from the quotes I shared, I had a blast reading this and I look forward to catching up on the books I've missed in this, and Dare's other, series. :)



Enjoy!


Until Next Time,


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