Size Doesn’t Matter (70): Do You Want to Start a Scandal; One Half from the East; Then Came You

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (70): Do You Want to Start a Scandal; One Half from the East; Then Came YouDo You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cove #5
Published by Avon on September 27, 2016
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Edelweiss
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-half-stars

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?

Though I’ve had Do You Want to Start a Scandal preordered for months, I couldn’t resist requesting the egalley when I saw it was on Edelweiss because COME ON IT IS TESSA DARE WHO COULD WAIT??? Do You Want to Start a Scandal is Tessa Dare doing what she does best: an adorable ship and humorous premise.

Now that I’ve read all of Tessa Dare’s novels (I have just one novella left to go at this point), I can say with good authority that Do You Want to Start a Scandal is one of my favorites. It’s been a struggle to find one that’s both hilarious and a really great ship. While it may not be uproariously giggle-snort inducing like When a Scot Ties the Knot, I’ll definitely never be able to look at an aubergine the same way again.

The whole novel takes place at a house party and not in Spindle Cove. There’s no actual Spindle Cove in this book, but Charlotte’s been raised by that oasis of powerful women, humor, acceptance, and love. This makes Charlotte an excellent heroine, willing to embrace ruin rather than face a loveless marriage. It also makes her brave and strong.

Charlotte and Piers have strong chemistry immediately. They start bantering basically from the moment they make eye contact, and I love how much of it is flagrantly dirty. Also, Dare plays with the marriage due to scandal trope here in really fabulous ways, which was super refreshing after reading a boatload of Julia Quinn. Even with the scandal pushing their engagement, Charlotte insists at all times on maintaining her agency and that she always has a choice. I adore the way that Charlotte throws Piers, always so in control and put together, into a complete tailspin. So fucking cute.

The little mystery plot runs to the silly, but honestly that’s part of the fun. Edmund, son of the Parkhursts aka hosts of the part, convinced that a murder has taken place (despite the lack of a body) is one of the best gags of the book. That and the aubergines. There’s an adorably hilarious resolution to everything AND a surprise lesbian during the investigation.

At this point, if you’ve read Dare, you must already want to read this. If you still haven’t listened to my shouting and read any Tessa Dare, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE OMG?

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif wrecking ball anne hathway
Charlotte to Piers’ piece of mind, basically

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (70): Do You Want to Start a Scandal; One Half from the East; Then Came YouOne Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi
Published by HarperCollins on September 6, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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Goodreads
four-stars

Internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is an emotional, beautiful, and riveting coming-of-age journey to modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy.

Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune.

Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room.

One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.

Now Obayda is Obayd.

Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more.

But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.

Somewhere amidst all the historical romance I’ve been reading, I picked up One Half from the East, a middle grade about a girl in Afghanistan. It was a bit of a tone change. :-p

My expectations were low for this one tbh because I’m really not into middle grade most of the time and I’d also heard nothing about it. I made an exception to my “no middle grade from ALA” rule for it, though, because the heroine, Obayda, genderbends. Apparently there’s a tradition in Afghanistan of dressing up a young girl as a boy if you have no sons, and it’s supposed to help bring a son and protect the family. Obayda, youngest daughter, is made into a bacha posh to help her father recover from having lost one of his legs.

One Half from the East has a beautiful simplicity to the writing, the subject is fascinating, and I loved the look into life in Afghanistan. Hashimi highlights both the beauty and the pain of the culture in this brief novel, and it’s great having a window into a culture with which I’m not familiar; I think that will be especially good for kids who only know about Afghanistan because of the war.

There’s also a lot of really interesting gender identity stuff in here. It doesn’t come to any sort of point or moral, but it will definitely make you think.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif bacha posh

Size Doesn’t Matter (70): Do You Want to Start a Scandal; One Half from the East; Then Came YouThen Came You by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Gamblers of Craven's #1
Published by Avon on October 13, 2009
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
one-star

A woman with a secret . . .

Reckless beauty Lily Lawson delights in shocking London society. She will break any rule to get what she wants . . . and she is determined to stop her younger sister from marrying Alex, Lord Wolverton, a handsome and arrogant earl who has vowed never to fall in love.

A man who will do anything to possess her . . .

To Alex's fury, the headstrong hellion presents a temptation he can't resist. He vows to make her pay dearly for her interference—with her body, her soul, and her stubborn, well-guarded heart.

As Alex and Lily challenge each other at every turn, they are caught up in a white-hot desire that burns through every defense and exposes the mystery of Lily's past . . . and together they discover that love is the most dangerous game of all.

Oh man, I’m not sure why I’d added this book on Goodreads, because clearly it is not the ideal place to start on reading Kleypas. The thing about romance authors is that, even if their current stuff is amazing, the backlist can be traumatic because romance as a genre is evolving. Then Came You suffers from so many of the problematic elements of classic historical romance.

The reader is told over and over that the hero is kind and honorable, but he first kisses the heroine in one of those bruising punishment kisses. Then he challenges her to a bet where, if he wins, he gets to have sex with her. Spoiler: he wins. On several occasions, he has sex with her even though she’d said no. Yes, she always enjoyed it but just no. The heroine also has some consent problems, having once knocked out the hero, tied him up, and then performed some sexual acts on him.

Even if you can set aside the myriad consent issues, the characterization was weak, mostly because these characters, as they’re described, really don’t fit with the actions they’re performing. As such, their connection makes no sense. Add the lack of chemistry to the consent issues, and the sex ends up being completely cringe-worthy. Not to mention the fact that the heroine is nicknamed “gypsy” by her best friend. X_X

It’s a shame because I actually loved the first chapter, but everything fell very thoroughly apart. I do want to read more Kleypas, because I like her writing (it’s certainly technically better than Quinn’s) if not what she did with it. If she would stop writing out so much dialect and make the sexual situations consenting, her books could be excellent.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif what the hell is that shit blazing saddles

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