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Castles Ever After #4

Do You Want to Start a Scandal

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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?

272 pages, Hardcover

First published September 27, 2016

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About the author

Tessa Dare

49 books13.2k followers
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Tessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fourteen historical romance novels and five novellas. Her books have won numerous accolades, including Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award (twice!) and the RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence. Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance," and her books have been contracted for translation in more than a dozen languages.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a trio of cosmic kitties.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,455 reviews
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,051 reviews49k followers
September 17, 2020
okay so i have very little of value to say

and by that i mean i only want to have a brief commentary on the use of nippage in this book (nippage, nipplization, whatever). i get that boob play is probably easiest in the regency era cause covered ankles and whatnot. but not every sex scene needs to start with the hero playing old school DJ on this chick's mammaries.

i am regretting my decision to read all of tessa dare's backlist in fairly rapid succession bc this is a recurring issue. not just a lot of nip play in one book, which might be understandable ya know cause everyone has their preferences. but i find it a little hard to believe that every regency era lady in a tessa dare book is like come here big fella, turn on these headlights and yet... that's what we get.

i really should shut the fuck up. but i think this level of repetition could also be greater generalized to the recycled archetypes and plot lines. that however is a story for another time. xoxo, hope u liked the innuendo
Profile Image for Tessa Dare.
Author 49 books13.2k followers
September 27, 2016

Hooray! It's finally book birthday for Charlotte and Piers!

As you might have gathered from the blurb, this book's plot is rather like a game of Regency-era Clue. Except, instead of "Who killed whom with the wrench?" the question that must be answered is "Who tupped whom in the library?" That is, until Charlotte discovers that Piers Brandon, Lord Granville is a more intriguing mystery by far.

Order links and excerpt are posted at my site.

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Profile Image for Anne.
3,917 reviews69.3k followers
February 7, 2017
Ok, this was such a cute little mystery/romance.

And, best of all, it stars the brother of the hero from Say Yes to the Marquess! Remember him? Piers,the fiancee that got jilted because he spent 8 years wandering around the world as an ambassador for England? Only not really, because he was actually a freakin SECRET AGENT!
So, you know, he was really out there doing all that cool spy stuff....


Anyway. He's at this house party to snoop around and make sure the man throwing the party is trustworthy. Charlotte is there because her mother is a schemer who will stop at nothing to see her daughter married well. In fact, her efforts have already earned Charlotte reputation as a desperate fortune hunter. But, this time, Charlotte is determined to nip her mother's plans in the bud by warning the Marquess of Granville, so he can avoid falling prey to her plans.
Because he obviously needs help avoiding traps...


Unfortunately, she picks a bad time to sneak in on him. Not only is he getting ready to rifle through the owner's documents, but after she explains about her mother, they have to hide behind the curtain because someone is about to find them alone in the room. Which Charlotte knows her mother would use to force Granville to marry her.
But, it turns out that "someone" is a very amorous couple looking for a little alone time, as well.


Well...yes and no.
They don't get caught by the lovers, but they do get caught by a little boy who heard the lovers. Poor kid was convinced that someone was trying to kill a woman, and raised the entire house to bust open the door and save her.
It didn't exactly look good for Piers & Charlotte.
Aaaaaand....now they're engaged.


Ok. All of that happens in the first few pages, and the rest of the book is about Charlotte trying to solve the mystery of who the two lovebirds were, so that she can force them to come forward and admit it was them in the room. You know, to save herself from having to enter into marriage with a man who doesn't love her.
Even if he does have some redeeming qualities...


What happens if he discovers that he does love her?

Profile Image for Stacey.
1,446 reviews1,157 followers
November 3, 2019
I’d take the scandal too.

I can honestly say there are not too many times that I find myself equally fond of the heroine as much as the hero. I admit, I pick and choose my reads based solely on the hero. He has to appeal to me in some way or form. So, I was excited to find that Do You Want to Start a Scandal has one of the best historical romance heroines I’ve read. Charlotte is quirky in a good way, smart and inquisitive, loyal and friendly and not overly vain. Don’t get me wrong, Piers is great, but Charlotte in some ways stole the show.

Do You Want to Start a Scandal starts with Charlotte leaving a ball and going to the study to give a gentleman a warning. This warning is a little unusual as she’s warning him to stay away from her. See, Charlotte’s mum is a shockingly devious matchmaker with her eye on this particular gentleman for her daughter. Not keen on the idea of a forced match or ruining her reputation even further (her mum’s previous escapades landed her in the mud), she states her reasons why he needs to stay clear.

Piers Brandon, Lord Granville, is shocked by this young woman. What shocks Piers, is Charlotte’s willingness to put her reputation at risk by approaching him, without introduction, in private. The fact that she’s strikingly pretty and quite humorous…and that he notices, is even more shocking. Piers is a man of control. His title of a marquess and his role as a spy for the government leaves him little time to notice women unless it is work-related. When their private meeting is nearly compromised, Piers jumps into action.

What follows for Piers and Charlotte is a very awkward scene where another couple meets for an assignation. Afterwards, a discussion of whether Charlotte understood what was going on as they were hiding had me giggling. I loved her answer of – “I’m innocent, but not ignorant.” This was quite refreshing for me. It does become a little tedious where every young lady in a historical romance has absolutely no idea what happens between a man and a woman in the boudoir. Their discussion comes to an abrupt halt when thinking they’re in the clear, they are shocked to be discovered by the eight-year-old son of the house.

What’s a decent Lord to do? Offer marriage of course.

Unfortunately, Charlotte isn’t jumping for joy (even though her mum is) because she had plans. She’s not ready to settle down and she definitely doesn’t want to marry unless it’s for love.

By mutual understanding, Piers and Charlotte agree to announce their betrothal at the end of the two-week house party. Charlotte comes up with the brilliant plan to try and clear her name to avoid the forced marriage.

I loved Do You Want to Start a Scandal. The characters were engaging, the storyline kept my interest from start to finish and the steamy scenes definitely had the heat I’ve come to expect from a Tessa Dare romance. I honestly couldn’t find fault with it. There was no time I was frustrated or bored and I definitely couldn’t turn the pages quick enough. I pretty much read the book from start to finish in one sitting.

If you’re looking for a funny, entertaining and riveting historical romance read, Do You Want to Start A Scandal may be perfect for you. Tessa Dare’s stories are all awesome. Even though I suggest you go back and read the rest of the books in this series, you could easily read this as a standalone. Yes, there are characters that pop up from other stories but I don’t think you’d be left scratching your head feeling like you’ve missed something.

I definitely recommend Do You Want to Start a Scandal.

Profile Image for EmBibliophile.
496 reviews1,141 followers
February 13, 2021
3.75 stars

I can’t believe I almost skipped this one!! The synopsis didn’t sound as good and interesting as the previous ones, so I was just going to skip reading it. Surprisingly, it ended up being my favorite in the series??? It was so good and so enjoyable to read!!

Maybe because of all the espionage and the mystery hunting element which I really enjoyed. It was so predictable, but yet so fun. Or maybe because of the characters who I absolutely adored. Charlotte was such a charming quirky character who I immediately liked. I loved how observant, smart, and driven she was. Charlotte was just so amazing! I really loved those two and their banter and how Charlotte kept on testing Piers. Overall this was cute, fun, and so enjoyable to read!!
Profile Image for UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish.
1,166 reviews1,597 followers
September 26, 2016
Full review now posted...

I don't often squee when I hear about a new book release, but I always do when it's a book by Tessa Dare who makes historical romance fun, exciting, and passionate!

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?
Do You Want to Start a Scandal is not only a wonderful romance, it's also a great mystery. The way it all unfolds is told brilliantly and oh, how I loved it! When it comes to historical romance, Tessa Dare always delivers the very best! I adore Charlotte and Piers, and watching them obtain their scandalous happily ever after was comical, and suited them perfectly!!

An ARC was provided by Avon Books and in appreciation I'm giving them an honest review.
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,857 reviews5,630 followers
December 18, 2018
*4.5 stars*

I adored, ADORED, Do You Want to Start a Scandal by one of my all-time favorite historical romance authors, Tessa Dare. It was EXACTLY what I needed.

It's been SO long since I've read a paperback, but it was worth having to read in my kitchen instead of my bed at 2 am just to have this book on my shelf forever.

I'm a big fan of funny, and Tessa Dare always knows how to write these romances that combine hot and sweet with just incredibly witty humor. I actually laughed out loud a number of times. I missed the Spindle Cove series so dearly, and I didn't realize quite how much until I read this one.

Do You Want to Start a Scandal is classic Tessa Dare, and oh-so-good. You won't want to miss this one.

Profile Image for Sophia Triad.
2,239 reviews3,452 followers
June 14, 2019
Charlotte Highwood does not want to get married. She wants to travel. Unfortunately her mother wants to see her married to a wealthy important man. Marquess Piers Brandon aka Lord Granville is an excellent candidate according to her mother, so Charlotte will try to warn him to stay away from her. A misunderstanding will result in the engagement of Charlotte and Piers.

Piers does not mind. He thinks that she is perfect for the heirs that he needs. He does not believe in love anyway. When he gets the heirs, she can do whatever she wants with her life.

“I would like to fall in love.”
He paused, considering. “I suppose that might be open to negotiation. After you’ve given me an heir, of course, and only if you can promise to be discreet.”
She was incredulous. “You’ve mistaken me, my lord. I would like to fall in love with the man I marry. And what’s more, I would like to be loved by him in return. Don’t you want the same when you wed?”
“Quite honestly, no. I don’t.”

Charlotte is furious. She wants freedom. She is still too young. Of course she realises that older men have a certain appeal. It is just Lord Granville is the wrong man.

In her youth, she’d longed for a steady, male presence in her life. An older brother, an uncle . . . even a cousin would do. Just a man who could sweep into the room, with wisdom and command and only her best interests at heart, and say—
Go upstairs and rest, Charlotte. I’ll take care of everything.
“Go upstairs and rest, Charlotte.” Lord Granville rose and crossed the room. “I’ll take care of everything.”
No, no, no.
That was the wrong man.

Oh I loved the way these two are falling in love and are changing the way they see their lives.

What to make of this man? He was proper. He was passionate. He had the public demeanor of an iceberg, but he kissed her as if she were his oasis in a vast, arid desert.
What are you doing to me? he’d whispered.
Charlotte had no idea.
But whatever it was, he was doing it back.

What Charlotte does not know is that lord Granville is not just a simple Marquess. He has many secrets. Special missions. Lethal skills. A hidden second life.

Well, I did not particularly liked Piers when we met him in “Say Yes to the Marquess”. He has left poor Clio alone for so many years to complete his spy missions and she was devoured alive by the ruthless busybodies.
In this book he is somehow redeemed and he even becomes (dare to say) kind of charming.

Charlotte is an excellent female character. Strong willed, funny, clever, sweet, determined, lovable, ready to fight with a love for mysteries. She will be perfect for cold hearted agent Piers.

There are also some cameo appearances by certain characters from “Say Yes to the Marquess” which I enjoyed. It is nice to know what nice things the future brings to the characters of my favourite books.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
374 reviews569 followers
September 23, 2016
5 “Oliveview” Stars!!!!

This book is a combination of James Bond and the game of Clue, and I enjoyed every second of it. It’s witty. It’s sexy. It’s everything “Tessa Dare.” When I think of Tessa Dare, this is the perfect amount of all that she is, wrapped up in one book. Can you tell that I love her?

à la Mode St. » fashion

She unsettled him; he anchored her. Together, they could be more than they were apart.

à la Mode St. » fashion

This book is…..ONE…..GIANT……SWOON. And if you don’t like this book, then you can suck my aubergine (see below for definition of “aubergine” or you can just read this book!).

Ps. Just kidding. If you don’t like this book, that’s fine. Everyone can have their own opinion….please don’t hate me for saying suck my aubergine.

The Aubergine…aka Eggplant!!! Tessa, you put an eggplant in this book! Hilarious!!!!!!

Ok, let’s actually talk about the book.

Granville. Piers Granville…. is a spy for the Crown. He is on a mission as a guest of the house, but when Charlotte corners him to “save him” from herself, and they are caught in a misunderstood compromising situation, they have no other choice but to pursue marriage. Piers pursues Charlotte relentlessly, but I love that Charlotte doesn’t give in at first. She is determined to prove that they are too different, and she is also determined to keep her independence. I love that Charlotte knows exactly who she is and what she wants.

à la Mode St. » fashion

"Those walls, as you called them…They’re part of me now, and they are iron strong.” He lifted a hand to her face, skimming his thumb over her lower lip. “Even if I wished to, I wouldn’t know how to dismantle them.”

“I know,” she said quietly. “I know.” She wreathed her arms around his neck. “That’s why you need me. I’m going to burn them to the ground.”

à la Mode St. » fashion

My Piers:

”There is nothing untoward in Lord Granville’s mind. He has the most toward mind I’ve ever encountered.”

Men's Fashion Post on Instagram: “You can't ever go wrong with a classic style suit. Happy Friday ya'll Follow @MensFashion for more inspo!”:

My Charlotte:

No matter how she tried, Charlotte Highwood was unable to be anyone other than herself.


Charlotte is…….absolutely hilarious. And so endearing. She is described as “innocent, not ignorant,” and that is perfect because she isn’t worldly like Piers, but she has a natural inclination of reading people and solving mysteries. She pursues this mystery and finds hints here and there throughout the book. I’m usually not a big fan of mystery novels, but there was less mystery and more romance, so it was perfect for me.

à la Mode St. » fashion

”If I let myself come anywhere near you” – he caught her wrists and lifted them, pinning her arms to the wall – “I’d have your skirts tossed up to your ears and my cock buried inside you before the rest of them looked up from their tea.”

à la Mode St. » fashion

Tessa Dare is easily in my top 5 favorite historical romance authors. Whenever I read Tessa Dare, I just know there will be swooning, and giggling and sexy times. She has the whole package when it comes to historical romance. Her books and stories are always so much fun! I have loved every Tessa Dare book that I have read so far (I’ve read 4 of her books). I got an ARC of this book…..but I’m going to be buying the paperback to have on my shelf FOREVER!!!

This is the 5th book in the series. It is a standalone, so you don't have to read the first 4 to read this one. I only read one other book in this series before I read this one. Here are the first 4:
1. A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove, #1) by Tessa Dare
2. A Week to Be Wicked (Spindle Cove, #2) by Tessa Dare (my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...)
3. A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove, #3) by Tessa Dare
4. Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove, #4) by Tessa Dare

ARC courtesy of publisher in exchange for an honest review

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Profile Image for Nissa | Of Pens and Pages Book Blog.
337 reviews997 followers
May 3, 2018

Review at Of Pens and Pages.

Do You Want to Start a Scandal is a fun historical romance read filled with intrigue, espionage, and so much sexual tension between a mysterious Marquess and a quirky woman on the brink of ruin.

Charlotte Highwood's plan to warn Piers Brandon, Lord Granville of her scheming mama's matchmaking goes wrong when they accidentally witness a scandalous tryst in the library and is accused of being the couple in said tryst. The odds are against them—Charlotte and Piers were alone in the library of Sir Vernon Parkhurst's home, no chaperone in sight, and they have no idea who the mystery lovers are. Now, Piers has to take responsibility and ask for her hand in marriage. It seems like Charlotte's mama has gotten her way after all.

But Charlotte isn't so keen to be tied down to a man who has no affection for her, especially a man who isn't open to the idea of falling in love. If she can't find the mystery lovers, then maybe she'll just try to convince Piers that love isn't so bad after all.

Piers has a mission he has to do that involves the man of the house, and no one can know he's doing it. The situation with Charlotte isn't the most ideal—what with laying low and all—but it's not too bad. Charlotte is intriguing, beautiful, and too entertaining for her own good. But she wants love, and he's not sure he could give that. Now, not only does he have to worry about Sir Vernon, there might be a threat to Charlotte's life as well.

This book is hard to put down, constantly keeping me on my toes as Piers and Charlotte try to find out the things they need to discover. Piers has a mission he has to fulfill, and Charlotte needs to find out who the mystery lovers are. There's also that mystery that someone might be after Charlotte. There are clues throughout the story and false trails that leave me even more intrigued. I had my guesses— some right, some wrong—and it was just so enjoyable to read it.

The sexual tension between Piers and Charlotte is on point, and they're so good together! We have Piers, a man full of self-control and a sense of duty, and Charlotte, a woman who craves adventure and has great deduction skills. Their banter pretty much served as their foreplay, and whoo boy, are they hot.

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

They had their arguments, which I mostly side with Piers because honestly while Charlotte has great deduction skills, she still has a naivety to her that she refuses to acknowledge. I mean, a person should start to get suspicious when it looks like someone's trying to kill her, right? Not Charlotte. But it was interesting to see them both grow, learn from their mistakes, and let go of past fears.

There are a few guest appearances from beloved characters from both the Spindle Cove and Castles Ever After series, so that was great, too.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this story, even more great banter, and some pretty steamy sexy times to keep a reader satisfied. If you want a bit of mystery mixed in with your romance, you'll enjoy Do You Want to Start a Scandal.

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Profile Image for Carol Cork *Young at Heart Oldie*.
425 reviews203 followers
October 8, 2021
I adore Tessa Dare’s books! They are always enchanting, romantic, sexy and funny!

I love the crossover of characters from the two series. The heroine, Charlotte, is the youngest of the Highwood sisters who feature in the Spindle Cove series and the hero, Piers Brandon, Marquess of Granville, appears in the second book of the Castles Ever After series.

Clever, witty, vivacious, good-natured and forthright, Charlotte is like a breath of fresh air. Despite her mother’s ill-conceived attempts to “throw” her into the paths of eligible, titled gentleman (sometimes literally), Charlotte values her independence and has no immediate plans to marry, intending to travel with her friend before settling down. Even then, she will only marry for love.

Attending a house party being held by Sir Vernon and Lady Parkhurst, her best friend Delia’s parents, she is aware that her mother has set her sights on Piers Brandon, Earl of Granville, as a prospective husband for her daughter. Desperate to warn him of her mother’s machinations and her own unsuitability as a prospective bride (the Prattler has dubbed her “The Desperate Debutante.”), she follows him into the library.

“Don’t be alarmed,” she said, closing the door behind her. “I’ve come to save you.”
“Save me.” His low, rich voice glided over her like fine-grain leather. “From . . . ?”
“Oh, all kinds of things. Inconvenience and mortification, chiefly. But broken bones aren’t outside the realm of possibility.”

What follows must rank as one of the most delightful and funny first meetings between a hero and heroine. Charlotte’s talk of May-December matches had me chuckling.

However, the best laid plans have a habit of going wrong and disaster strikes when they are discovered in what appears to be a compromising situation. Forced into an “understanding” with Piers, Charlotte is determined to discover the identity of the mystery couple they heard “tupping” from their hiding place in the library. That will release her from a marriage to someone who obviously doesn’t love her.

At first, Charlotte sees Piers as cold and restrained and talking to him “was rather like conversing with an ice sculpture” but his unexpected wicked charm, subtle humour and passionate kiss belie that icy exterior. He believes there is too much darkness and deception in his past and, if Charlotte knew the truth, she wouldn’t want anything to do with him. He sees himself as ruthless, deceitful, cold-blooded and heartless. I love how Charlotte refuses to give up on him, sees someone worthy of her love, and slowly breaks down the walls around his heart.

I know what’s inside you, behind all those walls. I’ll keep chipping away until I get at it. Even if it takes years. Decades. I know you’ll be worth the effort.” She rested against his chest, burying her face into the crook of his neck. “I’m never giving up on you.”

I also enjoyed seeing Piers losing all his vaunted control around Charlotte.

Good God. What was happening to him? He was falling apart.

In addition to a romantic, tender, poignant and deliciously sexy love story, Ms Dare’s books always contain wonderful humour. There are two scenes that I thought were hilarious. The first is where Charlotte’s mother is trying to explain to her what to expect on her wedding night using edible aids! The other is the scene where Charlotte is in the perfume shop and here’s a snippet.

“I thought you might. All the young ladies do. It’s fresh and grassy, isn’t it? Lemon verbena and gardenia blossoms. But the secret is in the fixative. A touch of castoreum is what makes the summery scents take hold, rather than fade.”
“Castoreum. That’s not from whales, is it?”
“Not at all.” He chuckled. Charlotte laughed, too. “Oh, good. What a relief.”
“It’s from beavers.”

Colin, Minerva and Diana (Spindle Cove) make a welcome appearance as does Piers’ brother, Rafe, (Castles Ever After).

The mystery surrounding the identity of the lovers in the library kept me guessing and I thought the revelation was a nice twist.

If you are a lover of Epilogues, like me, Ms Dare doesn’t disappoint.

MY VERDICT: If you’re looking for a story that is romantic, sexy, funny and full of wonderful characters that steal your heart, then I can most definitely recommend this book.

Spindle Cove series – for details of all the books click on the link below:


Castles Ever After series – for details of all the books click on the link below:


This review has also been posted on my Rakes and Rascals Blog:

Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,257 reviews272 followers
May 8, 2020

“Don’t be alarmed,” she said, closing the door behind her. “I’ve come to save you.”
When you can't keep straight the names of Dare's books, an essay. (Ok not really)

So I knew I read this once, that I've read it twice makes so much sense on why I remembered so much. I literally just grabbed one off the library hoping it was what I needed, it turns out it's probably very close to one of my favorites, and never ever have I appreciated it more than I do when it's really one of the only things that's distracted me this week. Have I mentioned I don't think there's anything better than house party historicals?

Seeing that this is becoming one of my go to comfort reads, it's probably time to purchase it to leave Piers and Charlotte to someone else to fall in love with. Also, I'm just gonna bump it up bc I don't think reading something 3 times is a 4.
Solidly in the top quartile...

I read this a year ago, and hilariously, forgot a lot of it. Not that it wasn't memorable, but that my memory for books is THAT flimsy. I hadn't forgotten the dialogue though. Whew.

Original Review:

I maybe stayed up far too late loving every second of this delightful book. The dialogue and push and pull, the WONDERFUL heroine’s courage and demands for her own life. The broody yet fun hero’s actions were so sweet...I’m not sure why I’m not giving it a 5. It’s a 4.5 for me, and an really solid one. Maybe I’m just spoiled lately.
Profile Image for Ⓐlleskelle - That ranting lady ッ.
993 reviews804 followers
December 22, 2017

Tessa Dare quickly became my happy place when I'm in the mood for Historical Romance. It all started with the Duchess Deal. A couple weeks ago.
So far the Spindle Cove series have been light hearted, sweet, steamy and hilarious. All this at the same time. All I know is that they make me feel good.
Kissing her was all in the line of duty. But work had never tasted so much like pleasure.

I can't define really what makes me "click" with these books. It reads like a contemporary or a romantic comedy, she cleverly blends humourous situations leading to the sweetest moments and when you think it couldn't ever feel better, there she goes throwing in an healthy dose of steam! LORD HEAVEN. (I'm not even catholic by the way.)
Her body was aflame, alive with need. It seemed unfair, his ability to drive her to distraction while remaining so cool, controlled... Relentless.

The level of hotness burning through the pages in her books... It left me hot, bothered and needy. (Sorry if I'm oversharing.) Her sex scenes are brought smoothly after a long and intense play between the hero and heroine, making them all the more meaningful. And gracefully written too.

But more than seeking a thrill with her sexy scenes, what really grabs me in her books is the humor. She writes the most unique heroines, smart and a little nutty. Endearing young ladies!
And the men... Sigh. Of course she would pair her lovely heroines with stern and brooding lads. You know the type, self-assured, sulking Lords doubling as notorious rakes. Sigh. The perfect opposites attract match!
He prided himself on control. Restraint. Careful managment of both internal emotions and outward reactions.
...And then came along Miss Charlotte Highwood. Announcing her own entrance into his life with the most absurd of declarations.
I'm here to save you.

So this was my gushing review.
I've said it before, if you are not into Historical Romance, or think it's not for you, please try one of these, I'm pretty confident it will change your mind about historicals.

Special mention for all the motherly talk about... aubergines. I've never laughed so much before! 'Ahem' indeed!

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Profile Image for Jessica .
2,074 reviews13.3k followers
July 20, 2020
Tessa Dare just knows how to write a good, fun historical romance. I can gobble up her books and know I'll be entertained the entire time.

From the start of this book, I really loved Charlotte's character and how she really isn't like your typical historical romance heroine. First, her mom wants her to be ruined so that she can marry the man who ruins her. Then, she's so determined NOT to marry and she's just so witty and intelligent. I loved how observant she is and how she really tests Piers. And I can't forget to mention that Piers is a SPY! I really loved how he was a spy and kind of had to use Charlotte but his feelings were blurring between fake and real.

There's really not much more I can share about this book without spoiling anything. I loved the banter between Charlotte and Piers and how they frustrated each other but they couldn't stay away. I flew through this audiobook and loved every single book in the Castles Ever After series. These historicals are so easy to read and give me romances to swoon over!
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,606 reviews1,480 followers
November 29, 2019
Kindle Limited Time Deal: 29Nov19 Amazon $1.99

4 Fluff Filled Stars

Tessa Dare is one of my go-tos for a story that is going to be fun, light and thoroughly entertaining. I start her books and before I know it I’m done. This is no exception. There is always something exceptionally cute about the story she is telling and there are usually quite a few laughs along the way. This was no exception.

If you have read any of the Spindle cove novels then you will remember Minerva and Diana’s mother who is quite set on getting her daughters married off and is willing to employ some devious methods to do it. Charlotte is the next on her list to marry off and so she feels compelled to warn the poor man of her mother’s plot.
We’re both here in this house as guests for the next fortnight. My mother will do everything she can to encourage a connection. That means you and I must plan to avoid each other.” She smiled, attempting levity. “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a titled man in possession of a fortune should steer far clear of me.”
He didn’t laugh. Or even smile.
“That last bit . . . It was a joke, my lord. There’s a line from a novel—”
“Pride and Prejudice. Yes, I’ve read it.”

But it seems that as Charlotte tries to dissuade any interest that Piers Brandon might have in her he becomes more taken with her. She is nothing like the other women he has met in his life and her brand of honesty calls to him since his life is one that is full of nothing but secrets. Plus she is adorable to tease.
“No matter what my mother implies, I don’t share her hopes. We’d be a terrible match. I’m far too young for you.”
“So you’ve made clear.”
“You’re the model of propriety.”
“And you’re . . . here. Alone.”
“Exactly. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and yours is clearly—”
“Kept in the usual place.” Charlotte was going to guess, buried somewhere in the Arctic Circle.
“The point is, my lord, we have nothing in common. We’d be little more than two strangers inhabiting one house.”
“I’m a marquess. I have five houses.”
“But you know what I mean,” she said. “It would be disaster, through and through.”
“An existence marked by tedium and punctuated by misery.”
“We’d be forced to base our entire relationship on sexual congress.”
“Er . . . what?”
“I’m speaking of bedsport, Miss Highwood. That much, at least, would be tolerable.”

I really enjoy Tessa Dare’s writing style and the banter and situational comedy between characters. There is almost always a few laugh out loud moments for me and this book had a few. I will definitely never look at a peach or an aubergine (I had to look it up it is like a eggplant purple cucumber again. Just imagine the worst mother daughter talk about “marital duties” and multiply it by five lols.
She came to a bargain with herself. If Mama was going to subject her to this, Mama was going to pay for it. And there was only one way to exact revenge for this farce of a lesson. To take it seriously. She lifted her head and composed her expression into one of solemn, wide-eyed innocence.
Reaching forward, she laid a single finger on the aubergine. “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?

This was one of the funniest scenes I’ve read in a long time and much needed.

There isn’t a ton going on plot wise. Piers is trying to investigate the lord they are staying with for a possible position and keeps getting distracted by Charlotte. She is trying to figure out who had a trist on the desk in the study while they were hiding and having a fantastic time trying to be a sleuth. She is actually pretty good at it and ferreted out some of Piers’s secrets too.

Like most of Tessa Dares books it is just a good time. I wouldn’t say it was more memorable than a lot of Historical Romance I’ve read but if all you are looking for is just a light regency romance then it is perfect.
Profile Image for WhiskeyintheJar.
1,287 reviews528 followers
December 17, 2017
4.3 stars

What are you doing to me? He'd whispered.
Charlotte had no idea. But whatever it was, he was doing it back.

Spoiler Alert: I like wallflowers and broody dudes. :) So, of course I liked this one. The way our hero was bamboozled by the heroine gets me every time. I would have liked to feel a bit closer to Piers, for some reason his background felt a bit underdeveloped, rushed or not delved into enough.
Charlotte was so open, honest, and willing to get her man; I quite delighted in her. I would have liked her relationship with Delia to be focused, shown more to further develop her character.

"What if I told you I know the risks, and I'm willing to take my chances?"
"It wouldn't change a thing. Those walls, as you call them…They're part of me now, and they are iron strong." He lifted a hand to her face, skimming his thumb over her lower lip. "Even if I wished to, I wouldn't know how to dismantle them."
"I know," she said quietly. "I know." She wreathed her arms around his neck. "That's why you need me. I'm going to burn them to the ground."

These two were spine tingling at times and plain fun to read about. The setting stayed stagnant as they were at a house party which kind of made their developing relationship feel less rounded out but their chemistry helped patch over some of the overall missing elements of the story.

This was fun, romantic, and heavier fluff at times, a Regency to delightfully pass the time.
Profile Image for Caz.
2,674 reviews1,011 followers
December 18, 2016
I've given this a B+ at AAR, so 4.5 stars.

It feels like I’m committing the ultimate Romancelandia faux-pas when I say that Tessa Dare’s last couple of books haven’t really worked for me. So much so, in fact, that I couldn’t rate When a Scot Ties the Knot above a C+; the characterisation was inconsistent, the humour felt forced and it seemed to me that Ms Dare had crossed the line into self-parody with her frequent, knowing winks to the audience.

So I’m over the moon to be able to say that with Do You Want to Start a Scandal?, she is back at the top of her game. Yes, the plot is a bit silly, but this book reminded me of what I’ve so enjoyed about her work in the past and is up there with A Week to Be Wicked and Three Nights With a Scoundrel as my favourite Tessa Dare reads.

The hero, Piers Brandon, is the Marquess who wasn’t said “yes” to in book two of the Castles Ever After series (Say Yes to the Marquess). He’s handsome, wealthy, rather reserved and very proper; and, being rich and titled is firmly in the sights of marriage-minded mamas and débutantes throughout the land. Well, of most of them. Charlotte Highwood – sister of Minerva (from the Spindle Cove series’ A Week to Be Wicked) has her sights set on making a European tour with her best friend, Delia Parkhurst, and has no intention of getting married in spite of the fact that her mother is practically throwing her at every eligible bachelor she can find. In fact, her mother’s desperation to get her youngest daughter married off has made Charlotte a laughing stock, but fortunately, she isn’t the type to be crushed by such a thing, no matter how irritating she finds it.

Charlotte and Mrs. Highwood are guests at a house-party hosted Delia’s parents, Sir Vernon and Lady Parkhurst. Being the charitable type, Charlotte decides it’s only fair to warn the Marquess of Granville that she has no wish to marry him, no matter that her mother is going to be throwing her at him over the next couple of weeks. The Marquess’ reaction to this is not at all what Charlotte expects – wryly humorous, gently teasing and completely unconcerned, he assures her that if, in his work as a diplomat, he can survive the vagaries of international politics he can undoubtedly survive the machinations of her mother. Charlotte is sceptical, but before she can issue another warning, their conversation is interrupted when an amorous couple bursts into the library, fortunately too engrossed in each other to notice Piers whisking Charlotte to the window seat behind the curtain.

After several uncomfortable minutes listening to the mystery couple getting it on, most of which Charlotte spends with her head pressed against Piers’ manly chest in order to control a fit of the giggles, the couple departs, leaving the coast clear. Only it isn’t – the moment Piers and Charlotte emerge from the window seat, they are confronted by their hosts’ eight year-old-son who promptly yells “murder!” at the top of his voice, having, of course, misconstrued the noises he’d heard emanating from the room. Not only does he misconstrue them, he does a good job of imitating them to the growing audience of guests, leaving Piers no alternative but to rescue Charlotte from ruin by immediately asking for her hand, much to the delight of her mother.

But marrying a marquess, no matter how handsome and ironically charming he is, does not fit in with Charlotte’s plans, and, she is sure, with his, either. She decides that the only way to avoid matrimony is to discover the identities of the mystery lovemakers (or mystery tuppers, as Piers would have it) and then explain the situation so that everyone will realise it wasn’t the two of them rogering each other stupid on the desk. This is what I meant about the plot being silly – it’s such an obvious device to bring the two protagonists together that normally, I’d be rolling my eyes. And I suppose I did, but Ms. Dare quickly makes the reader forgive her for the contrivance because the protagonists are so engaging, their banter is genuinely funny and they are quite obviously perfect for each other.

Charlotte is a thoroughly likeable heroine. She’s quite young –just twenty – but she’s witty, good-natured and able to laugh at herself, which is probably just as well, given the embarrassment to which her mother subjects her. She tells Piers straight away that while she is well aware of all the advantages marrying him would bring, she hopes to make a love match and politely refuses his offer. Piers believes his life is too complicated to admit of any emotional entanglements, so he is not particularly surprised by her reaction; but he is surprised by his own, which is that she genuinely interests and attracts him and he soon finds himself pursuing her in earnest. Their interactions are warm and funny, and, on Charlotte’s part very honest. Piers is a different matter, however; he’s haunted by a long-kept secret from his past and his work as an agent for the British government means that he has had to make questionable decisions and perform some dark deeds over the years. This is one of the few parts of the story that doesn’t really work; Piers isn’t tortured or damaged, he just thinks he is, and not very convincingly at that. He is, however, manipulative, and doesn’t even blink when it comes to engineering a situation to force Charlotte’s hand and convince her that he really isn’t a Nice Man who is looking for love but just doesn’t realise it.

Apart from that misstep though, Piers is a sexy hero. His aura of confidence and competence is extremely attractive, his dead-pan wit and sense of humour are a nice contrast to his aloof exterior, and most importantly, he appreciates and is attracted to Charlotte’s keen intelligence and sense of humour. The romantic and sexual tension between them leaps off the page and they share a strong connection; there’s a real sense that here are two people who are as attuned to each other mentally as they are compatible physically.

For all the fun and froth, though, there are some very well-realised moments of deeper emotion in the story. I particularly enjoyed the scene when Charlotte comes to a fuller appreciation of what her mother’s life has been, which is poignant and nicely understated.

Although the book fits into two different series ( Castles Ever After and Spindle Cove ), it’s not absolutely necessary to have read either of those in order to enjoy it as it works perfectly well as a standalone. Charming, sexy, and often laugh-out-loud funny – seriously, I’ll never think of perfume or look at an aubergine in quite the same way again! – Do You Want to Start a Scandal is just the ticket if you’re looking for a well-written, feel-good read.
Profile Image for Addie H.
492 reviews235 followers
November 16, 2019
On Kindle sale for USD 1.99 Nov 16th 2019


(Tropes: Marriage of Convenience, Spinster/Wallflower, Fake Relationship, Unstarched (hero)


Another solid Tessa Dare book with two very likeable characters.

- He prided himself on control. Restraint. Careful management of both internal emotions and outward reactions. Lives had depended on it, and Piers had never let them down. And then along came Miss Charlotte Highwood. Announcing her own entrance into his life with the most absurd of declarations. I’m here to save you.

Quick plot: While trying to do the opposite, Charlotte accidentally forces the secretive Piers Brandon (Lord Granville) saying yes to marry, when they are discovered alone together at a house party. Piers has his own reasons for being there and seizes the seemingly convenient betrothal to Charlotte to cover his presence. But a betrothal to Charlotte is not as convenient as it seems to be, when simply being around her does all kinds to Piers' carefully erected walls.


- “I wear my heart on my sleeve, and yours is clearly—”
“Kept in the usual place.”
Charlotte was going to guess, buried somewhere in the Arctic Circle.

- “You think I’ll be settling by wedding you.”
“Everyone will think it.”
“You,” he said, “are the most unsettling creature I have ever met in my life. I have not felt settled since the moment we met.”
Charlotte smiled to herself. “I shall take that as a point of pride.”

- What to make of this man? He was proper. He was passionate. He had the public demeanor of an iceberg, but he kissed her as if she were his oasis in a vast, arid desert. What are you doing to me? he’d whispered. Charlotte had no idea. But whatever it was, he was doing it back.

- “Don’t think I missed your purpose with all that neck sniffing and wrist stroking. Trying to break my concentration.”
“It seems only fair,” he replied evenly. “You broke mine first.”

- Whenever he was near her, his own powers of discernment and dissembling went promptly to hell. He blurted out old family secrets. He let her stroke his hair. He dragged her behind window seat curtains and held her close.

- Those walls, as you call them . . . They’re part of me now, and they are iron strong.” He lifted a hand to her face, skimming his thumb over her lower lip. “Even if I wished to, I wouldn’t know how to dismantle them.”
“I know,” she said quietly. “I know.” She wreathed her arms around his neck. “That’s why you need me. I’m going to burn them to the ground.”



- His arms and legs wrapped around her. His heartbeat thumped against hers. “I chose you, Charlotte. And I’m not looking back.”

4 stars
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews837 followers
September 9, 2016
4.5 stars. This was lovely!

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

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
Publisher: Avon
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!
Profile Image for Zoe.
763 reviews175 followers
October 12, 2016
This book could have gotten 3 stars from me, which in my book, is not bad at all.

But I have decided to give it 2 stars. I loathe the ninny heroine Charlotte.

Maybe ninny isn't the right word. She just isn't a real character. And ditzy, yeah, ditzy sounds right. Charlotte is a fictional character whose "pretend" naivety really annoys me. The blend of "intelligence and innocence", I get it. I know where Tessa Dare was going with this. There are different ways of creating such a character. But Tessa Dare's approach is one that does not appeal to me. I mean come on, there is innocent and intelligent and there is pretentious and being a smart ass. Charlotte falls into the latter category for me. She has an air about her, the kind of "I am the heroine of this book and I think I am fantastic but I cannot think that because that would not be virtuous. The writer wants me to be this innocent, smart, sweet, darling but perceptive and intelligent mature woman all at the same time, but you know, I cannot appear to be conscious of it because boasting about it makes me less attractive" heroine.

Alright that was one hell of a long sentence to describe Charlotte. But you catch my drift here. Charlotte is so obviously a fake character, someone Tessa Dare conjured up to entice female readers.

The plots are thin and unbelievable as they are already, coupled with Charlotte's antics, now that is just downright ridiculous. This is a regency comedy, nothing romantic about it other than the hero Piers uttering sentences like "I want you" here and there in the heat of the moment.

At around 50% Lord Rafe Brandon appeared and Piers introduced him as his brother. Then it hit me: oh my God Piers is the jilted bridegroom in this other ridiculous book by Tessa Dare, where the pudgy heroine Clio couldn't keep her hands off cakes and slept with the brother of Piers, the boxer. I pushed myself to get to 50% and after I realized that I couldn't hold it anymore. I quickly went through the book just wanting to be done with it. I recall thinking that Piers was the only interesting character in Rafe and Clio's story. And now Piers' story is ruined too.

Please do not get me wrong. I do not mean to say that this is a horrible book. Don't take it seriously. Don't expect a soul-searching romance. Expect, instead, a comedy show where people act outrageously inappropriately for a laugh. Expect a heroine who is so funny, so innocent, but mind you, also so smart that you just want to snort your disbelief. And of course an accomplished man like Piers, a cold-blooded spy no less, can only fall in love with a impertinent fresh young lady who is too smart for her own good (aka doesn't know boundaries and doesn't know when to keep her mouth shut and dreams of falling in love, etc. etc. etc.)

I never expect a real romance when I read Tessa Dare. I never expect historical accuracy or a hand-on-my-heart kind of reading experience. That consistently put Tessa Dare in the 2-3 stars rating range for me. And this book is no exception.
Profile Image for ♥ℳelody.
613 reviews603 followers
August 21, 2019
3.75 stars

Really sweet charming couple. The plot? Meh. Not so great or exciting. But Piers and Charlotte are adorable so I would recommend this just for them. It's just not a very suspenseful or angsty story. If you are looking for a light fluffy predictable funny romance then give this a go.

But once again, I must say Dare really needs to be more careful and aware of her world building. It's a little too thin in some areas. There were some glaring contradictions, physical body movements during intimate scenes that are anatomically impossible (unless you are Gumby) and some scenarios that were overall too contrived, flat and showed odd gaping holes. Your heroine faints in the hallway of someone else's house and the hero is bellowing for help and nobody comes to see what is going on besides his valet? Really?? The hero kicks down the heroine's door and has sex with her against the wall and nobody catches them or hears them? 😒😒😑 Stuff like this read a little too unrealistic and just confusing. But overall, easy read.
Profile Image for Gracey .
222 reviews23 followers
September 11, 2018
Finished this book in one day and I have highlighted way too many favorite quotes. I guess that is what happens when it has been way too long since Tessa released a new book. I hope and pray and pray and fervently pray we get more where all this..this wonderful, splendid magic is coming from. THIS COUPLE IS MY SHIP. THIS STORY IS MY SHIP. TESSA IS MY SHIP.

I am going to keep it simple, I mean - this is an overall feel-good, light, (super) sexy, funny, witty book from my fave author. But bias aside, this is perfect pick-me-upper if you plan to get whisked away to the era of HR for one fine-unadulterated-sunny day (and when I say sunny, it's because the couple is hot!!) Ahhhhhh I cannot put into words but overall I loved it. Recommended for? Anyone who loves a light-hearted HR romance + the steam!

Favorite lines:

“I haven’t forgotten your identity,” she whispered, still teasing her fingers through his hair. “Nor mine.” He swallowed hard. His hands settled on her hips. “You’re Piers Brandon, the Marquess of Granville, diplomat and secret agent in the Crown’s service.” She ran a fingertip down the noble slope of his nose. “And I’m Char—”

“You will be Lady Charlotte Brandon, the Marchioness of Granville, diplomat’s wife and mother of my heir.”


“I took you.” He reached for her, drawing her close and sending a wave of soapy water to the floor. “I took you, because I wanted you.” “In your bed.” “In my life.” She swallowed hard.

Credits to owner

Over and out, I'm going to tweet Tessa lots of love!


This is not a drill, we have a cover!!!

You all know what's better than a cover right? RIGHT?? A STEPBACK!!

You know what's better than stepback right? RIGHTT??!! A SYNOPSIS Y'ALL!

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?

-Edit at 3/10 -

OMG! Finally, a new Spindle cove book - again, this time - it's a book and not a novella *(not that I don't like novellas, bring me anything as long as it's from Tessa Dare and I'd gladly accept)*

We get Charlotte's story here! I believe she is the youngest spinster in Spindle Cove and we all meet her at the novella, Lord Dashwood Missed Out and the premise built was pretty exciting so really, I am way too ecstatic for words!

And and and -- I can't believe we're returning to this small town and we get to meet all the old characters - like Colin and Griff and Kate and ugh Lord Dashwood!!! How can you not panic? Tell me?

Am I too excited?

Am I too enthusiastic about this?

Do I love Tessa Dare for giving us this new book?

Profile Image for Jo.
957 reviews201 followers
September 29, 2016
I’m here to save you.

Charlotte Highwood is tired of her mother's matchmaking schemes, so she goes to the library to warn Lord Ganville, Piers Brandon, of her mother’s plans hoping to avoid another scandal. Not knowing that a scandalous tryst will soon force her to hide behind the library curtains in Pierce’s arms. And unfortunate circumstances will paint them as the mystery couple.

“We’d be a terrible match. I’m far too young for you.”
“So you’ve made clear.”
“You’re the model of propriety.”
“And you’re . . . here. Alone.”
“Exactly. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and yours is clearly—”
“Kept in the usual place.”

Charlotte is determined to find out the identity of the mystery lovers, otherwise she’ll be forced to marry the cold and arrogant Pierce. It would never work between them, they couldn’t be more opposite. But as they try to piece together the clues, Charlotte learns that Pierce is more than just the cold and very proper marquess everyone sees. He can pick locks, unhand a knife-wielding thug, tease her with wicked wit, and kisses like a unrepentant rake. And he’s turning out to be the most fascinating puzzle of Charlotte’s life.

But Charlotte has always dreamed of marrying for love. Can she risk her heart on a man determined to never love?

What to make of this man? He was proper. He was passionate. He had the public demeanor of an iceberg, but he kissed her as if she were his oasis in a vast, arid desert.

I love unconventional heroines, and Charlotte was amazing. She’s outspoken, unorganised and so open about her feelings. I just loved her and how she understood Pierce, how she saw behind his unfeeling façade, and knew that there was a heart hidden beneath that icy personality.

“You,” he said, “are the most unsettling creature I have ever met in my life. I have not felt settled since the moment we met.”

I absolutely loved the broody and cold Pierce. Pierce has had years of learning how to hide his feelings, until Charlotte came along and threw his world of its axis. Suddenly he couldn’t concentrate on anything but her, he couldn’t keep his calm, his control around her, and I loved that!

“It wasn’t enough for you to invade my thoughts, was it? Oh, no. You had to get under my skin, as well. Sometimes I think you’ve found a way into my blood.”

I loved the immediate attraction between these two, and how the intensity between them grew with every moment spent together. They are so different from each other, she’s so optimistic and he’s so jaded, and they were perfect for each other. Their romance was so romantic, sexy and just wonderful. The sexy times were very hot, starting with that delicious and scorching first kiss, and I loved that the guarded Pierce was so passionate when it came to Charlotte.

The mystery regarding who the unknown lovers were, the reason for why Pierce was there and all his secrets, and Charlotte trying to find out the identity of the lovers were all excellent. I also loved all the humor in this book, and the funniest was the sex talk Charlotte’s mother had with her, she even had fruit for props :-D It was hilarious! Also I loved seeing Colin and Minerva again.

Tessa Dare is one of my favorite HR authors. Her books are always funny, light-hearted and so romantic. And I loved this book! It had all my favorite things: a fantastic heroine, a broody and secretive hero, a passionate romance and lots of humor. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Profile Image for Somia.
2,051 reviews128 followers
March 9, 2020
Charlotte Highwood has no desire to catch herself a lord much to the despair of her mother, rather she wishes to travel through the continent with her best-friend. Unfortunately, Charlotte knows her mother’s desire to see her wed to a distinguished lord won’t simply stop, and in attempt to ensure her mother doesn’t get her way, she decides to warn the man her mother has an eye on - Lord Granville aka Marquess Piers Brandon. However, a misunderstanding and an over-imaginative little lord result in an engagement, one that is needed to ensure Charlotte is not destroyed by scandal. Charlotte plans to guarantee neither she nor Piers are trapped together in matrimony, but neither counted on the undeniable chemistry between them nor did they count on the bond that would develop and ensure they cannot keep away from one another.

Charlotte’s mother – boy oh boy, she is certainly an experience. A matchmaking mama with no bounds, so much so that people have started to refer to Charlotte as the Desperate Debutante. The scene in which she tries to prepare Charlotte for her wedding night – it still makes me smile when I think about it, and her usage of vegetables made the scene all that more vivid and amusing.

I devoured this read, and found it hard to put down, definitely going in my re-read pile and it’s going down as one of my favourite Tessa Dare books. That is not to say there aren’t issues, for example the mystery is a tad silly, but the manner in which Piers and Charlotte are depicted, as well as the chemistry between them and the humour dusted through many scenes meant that I honestly didn’t care, I was too busy enjoying myself.
Profile Image for Desi.
524 reviews93 followers
January 13, 2019
Inane plot, ditzy heroine, vacillating hero who never solidified into a character worth knowing ... and wayyy too much sex that served No Purpose in terms of plot advancement.

Don't even get me started on the ridiculous resolution to the mystery aspect! It became an utter rubbish gimmick the characters wasted their time running after.

And more irritatingly, one the long-suffering readers wasted their time and head-space attempting to solve.

This would have irritated me less had the 'mystery' not been ramped up to an 'assassination attempt'.

Seriously, when matters got to that point any normal responsible human being would come forward, apologize and clear things up.

So the fact that no one did that, when things had escalated so alarmingly, takes away any attempt by the author at wrapping her 'mystery' plot up as benign peccadillo level shenanigans, as she tried to blithely pull at the end.

Those same pages could have been spent developing a legitimate relationship between the characters outside of humping like Manic Monkeys in completely impractical places, with an almost slow motion passage of time (I mean really, how long was that carriage ride? It went on forever).

On the positive side, I suppose it does hold one's attention because I did finish it without any great difficulty.
Profile Image for Avid Booker.
252 reviews52 followers
September 27, 2016
3.5 stars I was stuck between a three or four stars. Honestly this story leans more towards three, BUT I bumped it to four for the small part that Colin was in, and because the whole first 2 chapters or so are laugh out loud funny to me. And because even after that parts were HILARIOUS.

This is one of those books where, you either like it or you don't. There are no inbetweens. And I liked it.

It's not as great as A Week to Be Wicked or When a Scot Ties the Knot and that's only because I like those heroines better. Charlotte was a bit of a child still in her actions.

How should I start this? Well, Charlotte's not my usual heroine to be honest. She's nothing like her sister Minerva, the bookish nerd ending up with a rake, or her sister Diana, the asthmatic sweetheart ending up with the blacksmith. I'm more a fan of the Minerva type at the end of the day. But Charlotte was different for me. Charlotte was her sisters' opposite. She was brave, too candid, brash, and a bit too easily trusting. I suppose the naive-ness that came off her, was because of her being young. She still has some growing up to do. Even after this book. Hopefully marriage helps with that.

Our Hero, Piers Brandon. You might know him from Castle Ever After series as Rafe's brother. His previous fiancé was stolen from him by his younger brother. But it wasn't a love match so he's not bitter. He's serious, cautious, and despite his denial, honorable. Honestly don't know what he saw in Charlotte, but he saw something and it made me smile.

We were given a mystery at the beginning of the book and we're supposed to solve it with Charlotte and the unwilling Piers, but for the most part the mystery was on the back-burner for the love story to unfold. The story although a normal 360+ pages runs pretty fast and although the plot isn't necessarily super interesting, it's cute.

There was a bit of insta-lust, and the love came a bit quick too.

With Delia, her whole situation felt weird to me. If my friend found a man and beat the odds against her I would be happy that she's found the one. Not a hater. Just saying. It came off as hating to me. Not everything turns out how we plan. Oh, and don't get me started on her sister.

Lmao oh and this book gave me more fuel as to why I don't like children. Not just in books. But period. They are annoying little shits. Cute. But annoying. (None are Piers or Charlottes don't worry)

Colin showing up made everything so much better. Nothing can be terrible as long as he's around even if its brief.

OMG Piers pulled a Harry Tempt Me at Twilight, move and you know that's the fastest way to my heart is through being a villain. So there's that.


There was only one time where this book felt a bit toooo unrealistic It was farfetched to the point where it couldn't be ignored. No normal person would just think that out of nowhere.

I LAUGHED SOOO HARD IN THIS BOOK THOUGH. It Tessa Dare-esque to give you a good laugh or so. So expect it. She never ceases to disappoint. Especially in that department.

Oh and was that a Hamilton reference I spotted Mrs. Dare? Because I think it was. "Talk less. Smile more."

Don't expect too much, when going into this book. It's not a serious spy read, it a cute, cheesy, fast pace love story, with a very minor sub plot of espionage. This story was about Piers chasing Charlotte.

"Dare I hope you're too innocent to understand what just went on here?" he asked.
She gave him a look. "there's innocent, and then there's ignorant. I might be the first, but I am not the second."
"That's what I feared."
"Fear is the word for it," she said, shuddering. "That was... horrific. Scarring."
He tugged on his cuff. "We needn't speak of it further."
“But we’ll think of it. Be haunted by it. It’s burned in our memories. Ten years from now, we could both be married to other people and have full, rich lives of our own. Then one day we’ll meet by chance in a shop or a park, and”—she snapped her fingers—“our thoughts will travel immediately to this window seat.”
“I heartily intend to banish this incident from my thoughts forever. I suggest you do the same.” He drew aside a fold of the drapery. “It should be safe now.”

“It wouldn’t change a thing. Those walls, as you call them . . . They’re part of me now, and they are iron strong.” He lifted a hand to her face, skimming his thumb over her lower lip. “Even if I wished to, I wouldn’t know how to dismantle them.”
“I know,” she said quietly. “I know.” She wreathed her arms around his neck. “That’s why you need me. I’m going to burn them to the ground.”"

Just a man would sweep into the room, with wisdom and command and only her best interests at heart and say--
'Go upstairs and rest, Charlotte. I'll take care of everything.'
"Go upstairs and rest, Charlotte." Lord Granville rose and crossed the room. "I'll take care of everything."
No, no, no.
That was the wrong man.

"Has it not occurred to you that I might have a very real, very pressing reason for wanting to wed you?"
The darkness in his gaze left no ambiguity as to what reason he meant.
"But you could get that from any woman," she said.
"I want it from you."

I've come to save you, she said.(this is Piers' thoughts)
She was a sweet, darling girl. But she was half a lifetime too late.

What with the wooded setting, she felt like Red Riding Hood confronting the wolf.

"Since you mention it..." He caught her by the waist, dragging her onto his lap. He said in a seductive growl. "That's not a pistol in my pocket." She laughed.

"I took you because I wanted you."
"In your bed."
"In my life."

Before Reading:
Okaaaaay soosoooooooso TESSA IS CONNECTING IN A WAY SPINDLE COVE AND CASTLE EVER AFTER SERIES???? lol Because Piers is from Say Yes to the Marquess and Charlotte is Minerva from A Week to be Wicked and Diana from Beauty and the Blacksmith's SISTER!!!
Profile Image for preoccupiedbybooks.
457 reviews1,022 followers
April 19, 2020
A hilarious and fun historical romance which plays on Cluedo, one of my favourite games!

Charlotte Highwood just meant to warn Piers Brandon (The Marquess of Granville) about her scheming mother's matchmaking plans, but it all goes wrong when they accidentally overhear a couple having a secret tryst in the library! Unfortunately, everyone thinks they were the ones having the secret rendezvous! Will Charlotte now be forced into marry a cold, arrogant man who doesn't love her, or will she solve the mystery of who the secret couple was, and exonerate herself?!

This book was so much fun, and had me laughing within the first few pages! Tessa Dare gave us another entertaining read here, and I enjoyed it a lot! I loved the mystery element just as much as the romance in Do You Want to Start a Scandal! Cluedo/Clue was my favourite game as a kid and cough cough when I was a teenager, and I always won! My husband and his friends accused me of cheating, when we played a game years ago, but I was just that good at it lol! Anyway, this romance played up to that game, and it was amazing!

Charlotte was a great main character. She was quirky, funny, messy, sweet, and was looking for adventure and freedom in her life. She wanted to marry for love, so desperately followed the clues, to figure out who it was in the library, up against the desk...
Pierrs (the brother of Rafe from book two btw!!) was a self controlled, neat, powerful man, who seemed cold, but passion burned deep in him, as he guarded his dark secrets and a double life from everyone...Will they find out who was in the library that night? Will they marry? Will they fall in love?!

Do You Want to Start a Scandal had funny banter and comedy, steamy sexual tension and aubergines...(eggplant to the USA)🤣 🍆
This was a light, funny mystery romance with both passion and danger, and I would definitely recommend it! On a side note, I think I need a break from the word 'tupping...'
Profile Image for Vintage.
2,389 reviews443 followers
December 14, 2016
Best sex ed talk ever!

A solid 3.5.

I really enjoyed this book. Both the hero and the heroine stood out. She was adorable and quirky without being too cutesy, and he was a hunk of burning yumminess. He's a little closed down and refuses to be "in love", but makes it quite clear in every way with his actions and statements that he is head over heels.

There are quite a few funny moments as in the above mentioned sex ed talk involving the h's uncomfortable mother comparing men and women's sex organs to aubergines and peaches as well as Edmund, a little boy, who indvertently keeps on outing lovers as he keeps hearing murder sounds behind the curtains and in closets.

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