Dare’s latest novel, which links her popular Spindle Cove and Castles Ever After series, opens in 1819 with a sizzling, scandalous encounter in a velvet-draped alcove at an English country estate. Charlotte Highwood and Piers Brandon, who have only just been introduced, hear—but don’t see—a pair of passionate lovers and inadvertently duck into the same niche in order to avoid them. Charlotte is shocked to find herself chest to chest with Piers, but her mortification truly sets in after the mysterious lovers leave and others who overheard them insinuate that Charlotte and Piers were the ones enjoying intimate pursuits. Piers and Charlotte hastily arrange a private engagement to salvage Charlotte’s reputation before word gets around, but Dare’s unconventional heroine is reluctant: she wants to marry for love, not honor. Charlotte tries to identify the mysterious lovers to clear her own name of scandal so she can get out of her engagement to Piers, a dashing yet cold marquess who’s also a spy for the Crown. But her intrepid sleuthing alarms Piers, who has his own secrets to hide. Artful diversions, a clever heroine, and intense passion are all brought together by Dare’s smart writing and spot-on matchmaking. There’s just the right amount of intrigue, and even the minor characters have layered personalities. The irresistibly provocative, classy love scenes set the bar high for other historical romance novels. Agent: Steve Axelrod, Axelrod Agency. (Oct.)
With its free-spirited heroine and honorable hero, Dare’s latest is a riotous romance. Her signature humor sparkles (I’ll never look at a peach and cucumber the same way again) and when combined with a mystery that turns into a Regency game of Clue, readers are captivated.” —
RT Book Reviews (top pick)
“Artful diversions, a clever heroine, and intense passion are all brought together by Dare’s smart writing and spot-on matchmaking….The irresistibly provocative, classy love scenes set the bar high for other historical romance novels.” —
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Do You Want to Start a Scandal is good. It’s so, so good. [...] It worked perfectly for me. [...] This book is funny, it’s charming, and the romance works so beautifully.” —
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (A Grade)
“An irrepressible, independent-minded heroine and a responsible hero who’s leading two lives fall for each other in a rollicking and passionate romp that is just what Spindle Cove fans will relish.” —
Library Journal (starred review)
Scandal-prone Charlotte Highwood has no intention of marrying Piers Brandon, Marquess of Granville—she's not at all the wife he needs, and, in any case, she has more adventurous plans in mind. When they are caught in a compromising situation at a country house party, they are forced to agree to an "understanding"—one that Charlotte intends to get out of as soon as she can. But Piers has other ideas. He not only needs an heir, he's intrigued by the unconventional, exceptionally perceptive Charlotte. Clever badinage, an intricate plot, breathtaking sensuality, and carefully realized secondary characters make this another delightful page-turner from one of the genre's best. VERDICT An irrepressible, independent-minded heroine and a responsible hero who's leading two lives fall for each other in a rollicking and passionate romp that is just what Spindle Cove fans will relish. Dare (When a Scot Ties the Knot) lives in Southern California. [See "Editors' Fall Picks," LJ 9/1/16, ow.ly/wkvx304GnLc.]
When she tries to warn a marquess to stay away from her at a house party where they'll be guests for the next two weeks—because she knows her mother will try to set them up in some embarrassing way—Charlotte Highwood winds up compromised. In trying to prove her innocence, she falls in love with the man, who's sworn he'll never love anyone.When Charlotte follows Piers Brandon, Lord Granville, into the Parkhurst library to warn him about her mother's schemes, the conversation is interrupted by another couple meeting for a tryst. Thinking quickly, Piers hides them behind a long curtain, where they endure listening to the assignation. They're discovered leaving their hiding place, leading people to think it was she and Piers making love. Piers quietly offers to marry Charlotte, who resists. She wants a marriage based on love and trust, not convenience. Convinced she can evade an engagement if she finds the "tuppers," Charlotte embarks on an investigation even as she gives her heart and body to Piers, who finds himself incredibly willing to share long-held secrets with his would-be fiancee—considering he's a spy who's spent a lifetime learning how to hide them—without realizing he's falling in love, too. Dare delivers another winning historical romance, with sparkling dialogue, an effervescent heroine, and an emotionally inhibited hero who falls for her even if he can't admit it to himself. There is much to love in this title—which entwines the author's popular Castles and Spindle Cove series—and Dare brings her typical combination of humor (with an extra dose of lightheartedness thanks to Charlotte's irrepressible spirit), unexpected yet spot-on matchmaking, and soul-satisfying romance. However, a few anachronisms and missteps mar the story. For example, wouldn't Charlotte still be compromised if she uncovered the trysting couple? A gratifying romance despite some flaws.
With its free-spirited heroine and honorable hero, Dare’s latest is a riotous romance. Her signature humor sparkles (I’ll never look at a peach and cucumber the same way again) and when combined with a mystery that turns into a Regency game of Clue, readers are captivated.
RT Book Reviews (top pick)
Do You Want to Start a Scandal is good. It’s so, so good. [...] It worked perfectly for me. [...] This book is funny, it’s charming, and the romance works so beautifully.
Piers Brandon, British peer and secret agent for Her Majesty’s Crown, reveals little of his emotions in narrator Carmen Rose’s aristocratic portrayal, but debutante Charlotte Highwood chips away at his defenses. When a chance meeting places them in a compromising situation, Piers declares he’ll marry Charlotte. But she’d rather investigate the suspicious circumstances that threw them together. Charlotte comes across as a complex young woman. She tries to rise above the gossip of high-placed ladies as she suffers the hurt of their judgments. Her determination to win Piers on her own terms comes across in her dialogue, as does her naughty humor. Rose matches the slow reveal of Piers’s insecurities in his internal monologues and conversation. This Spindle Cove title can stand alone—or one can choose to enjoy the whole series. C.A. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
NOVEMBER 2016 - AudioFile