Fiction: “Do You Want To Start A Scandal” by Tessa Dare

Start a ScandalFirst off: Yes, I totally hear the title as “Do You Want to Build A Snowman”. Every fucking time. It’s hilarious. But I do apologize for this book for giving you that earworm.

Secondly: Yay another short review!

So this is the … third, I think? example of the “We hid behind the curtain in a library/study/parlor and now we have to get married to preserve our virtue” trope that is starting to become as prevalent as “fucking in a carriage”. I love it. It’s so stupid.

Even more stupid are the reasons for why Charlotte Highwood and Piers Brandon are stuck behind that curtain in the first place.

1. Charlotte chases after Piers Brandon, Lord Granville to warn him about her matchmaker mother, and tells him that no matter what her mother says or what the gossip sounds like, Charlotte doesn’t have any intentions of getting Piers Brandon to marry her, but they should still avoid each other during this fortnight-long country stay to make sure they don’t allow Charlotte’s mother any chance.

2. Piers basically shrugs and goes, “okay, whatever, crazy lady, but we should get back to the ballroom before the quadrille is over or else we’ll both be in trouble.”

3. But before they can return to the ballroom, they have to hide behind the curtain because two people are coming into the library.

4. The mystery couple proceeds to fuck on the desk.

5. Once they’re gone, Charlotte and Piers start to move out of the library, only to get caught by the host’s eight-year-old son, who then proceeds to make a scene because he could hear squeaky noises, and groaning, and PIERS MUST HAVE BEEN DOING A MURDER

6. Half the guests of the ball show up at this point – including Charlotte’s mother – and in order to save face, Piers proposes to Charlotte.

SO STUPID. I LOVE IT.

Piers is only at that country estate because he’s investigating Delia’s father – apparently he’s been bleeding money, and since he’s in the running for an Ambassador post, back THEN, PEOPLE HAD TO BE PROPERLY VETTED BEFORE ACCEPTING A DIPLOMATIC POST AND SOMEONE HAD TO MAKE SURE THE CANDIDATE WASN’T SUSCEPTIBLE TO BLACKMAIL

Goddamn, I hope we can get back to a place where that shit is commonplace again.

Anyways. In between Piers spying on the Lord of the manor, and Charlotte poking her nose where it doesn’t belong, they get into some scrapes together. Nobody likes Charlotte, so when the ladies all go on a horse ride through a calm meadow, they give Charlotte Lady, who ends up throwing her into a river, where Piers manages to save her from almost drowning. One night, after some intense sleeping together (they’re engaged – once that bridge has been crossed they can do whatever they want), Charlotte gets a tray of breakfast that has a lovely sprig of something, but when she touches it she falls ill. Turns out it’s monkshood, which can be fatal. Luckily, Piers finds her quickly enough to heal her, but the fact that she was in danger closes him off from her, in the cockamamie idea that by doing so, he’s protecting them both.

This book pretty much follows the formula, which is exactly what I’m looking for in a “silly little romance novel”, and again, that is not meant to be a disparaging term. How can you make fun of a book that gave me this phrase:

“You must think me easily swayed. One dose of your masculine lip elixir, and I’ll be cured of any doubt, is that it?” [p. 42]

Masculine Lip Elixir is the name of my new rock band, by the way. It’s glam rock. We open for The Darkness. (Oh my god, is The Darkness even a band still?)

And I definitely must give it up to Tessa Dare, for allowing Charlotte’s mother to attempt to give her Ye Olde Birds and the Bees talk, using – hand to god, I’m not making this up – a peach and an eggplant as visual aids.

This book did exactly what I wanted: it gave a Happily Ever After, it was pretty hot, but above all, it was fun.

Grade for Do You Want To Start A Scandal: 3.5 stars

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