cover image Do You Want to Start a Scandal

Do You Want to Start a Scandal

Tessa Dare. Avon, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-234904-0

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.)