What's with the "song-pun" titles.
The title of this book will show just how old I am. When I first read the title of Tessa Dare's latest, Do You Want to Start a Scandal, my mind immediately sang the Beatles song, Do you Want to Know a Secret. Then I started to hear rumblings of a song from Frozen and I thought, what are they talking about? I had to look up the songs from Frozen and found Do You Want to Build a Snowman? Well - that's a fine howdy-do. Which is it, Secret or Snowman? I don't know, but I wish whoever is thinking of these oh-so-clever titles would stop because now I have two songs going through my head.
Now on to the book with the silly title, Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare. This book started off great and I thought that at last there was light at the end of the tunnel - and there was - sort of. This is also a hard book to review because not only is there a delightful heroine, it also has one of the funniest scenes I've read in a long time. The problem I had was that the book was not able to keep up its momentum alllll the way through.
I adored the heroine, Charlotte Highwood. Some people may not because she is a tad bit outrageous. She does things that are not at all historically correct, so if you have an issue with trying to keep your characters in their time period, this book may not be for you. In this case, I enjoyed the fun and I smiled a lot through the beginning of the book.
Charlotte has a problem - her mother. Her mother wants to see her final daughter married and she is pushing her at any male who crosses her path - and, I do mean push. Her mother actually pushed her in front of a horse with a bachelor on its back just to get his attention - the man, not the horse. What this incident ended up doing was making Charlotte the talk about town and not in a good way. Men were going the long way around just to keep out of her way. Even though she is highly embarrassed, Charlotte doesn't really care toooo much (except for the occasional sneer aimed her way). You see, she has a plan. She and her best friend in the world, Delia, are going to be spinsters forever and ever. Not only that but they are going to see the world. One of the more poignant issues in this story was Delia and Charlotte's friendship. Ms. Dare did a fine job of writing about a close friendship when a third party starts to interfere. That was another part of the book which I found special.
Brain talk. Charlotte's physical persona lived in the time period she was supposed to be; she was quiet when faced with the people around her. But she had one sarcastic little brain. Reading her inner comments was quite a lot of fun. I found this part of Charlotte's characterization very amusing - not everyone may.
Laugh out loud warning. I was unable to sleep. It was 2:00am. I retrieved my Nook, crept back into bed and tried to open it up. Of course I have the music setting turned up really loud, so I threw my pillow over my Nook when the light and noise erupted. Husband still asleep. I started to read. And, then there came a scene involving a mother, a daughter, the you-know-what-talk, and a basket of vegetables. It was a laugh-out-loud-hand-over-mouth moment. This scene made up for alll of the hero's flaws.
Piers Brandon was in a study rifling through a desk which didn't belong to him when he first encounters Charlotte. It doesn't initially dawn on Charlotte that he's snooping because she was on a mission. She came to warn him to stay away from her because her mother had set her sights on him as a future son-in-law. This had all the makings of a screwball comedy - I'll make this short. Charlotte tells her story, Piers listens, they hear a noise, they hide, two mysterious someone’s enter the room, those someone’s precede to use the desk for some hot whankee-roo, Piers and Charlotte listen, Charlotte giggles, the mysterious couple leave, Piers and Charlotte think everything is clear, they tip-toe out, a monster 9-year old boy screams Murder, they are caught in a compromising position. There is more that was built up on that scenario and it's all very funny.
I had a lot of fun with all of the wild shenanigans which went on in this book. I loved how Charlotte made lists and dragged Piers into trouble again and again. However, the story lost some of its glow because of Piers. If Piers had just been charming and ironic through the whole book I would have been really excited about this tale. But he had a dark side. No, not a dark side! On top of that he's a spy. No, not a spy! He was at the same house-party that Charlotte was at because he was trying to find a spy or there was something slightly shady about his host (Delia's father). So, he's sneaking around. But that's not the part of the book that threw me out of my enjoyment. For some reason he's not worthy of Charlotte. Oh no, not worthy! He had to prove to her that he's a really rotten. How does he do that, you may ask. Well, he sets fire to the house. Just a small wee fire - enough to smoke up rooms and send people fleeing into the night screaming. Well, I guess if you want to prove you're the wrong kind of person you burn things down. Yep, that would do it for me. Of course, he explains it all and she forgives him. But when I read this, I stopped and wrote - "what the crap was that all about?" That is a direct quote from my Nook notes. After all of the fun, charm, wit and laughter there was a scene from Twilight Zone thrown in which made no sense to me. Must all of our heroes be dark and in need of saving? And, in such an outrageous, overboard, silly way. If only that scene hadn't been in this book.
Overall. For the most part I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed Charlotte's zany character and I loved Piers trailing along with her because he couldn't help himself. I enjoyed the lightness, fun, and humor which abounded throughout the story. If only the "what was that" scene had not been included in the story I would have given this book a glowing recommendation. I still recommend Do You Want to Start a Scandal, but just be prepared for a bounce-out-of-the-book scene involving Piers.
Time/Place: 1800s English House Party