Tessa Dare’s latest, RT Top Pick, Do You Want to Start a Scandal, is, as our veteran reviewer Kathe Robin put it, “a Regency game of Clue.” We mean … if you could combine two of our favorite things, Regency and Clue would be it! To get us in the spirit, we asked Tessa to share her favorite historical mysteries that romance readers will love, and she was kind enough to oblige!
And Then There Were None
Okay, so this mystery really has no romance in it. Zero romance. It’s the opposite of romantic, story-wise. But it’s a fantastic mystery—one of Agatha Christie’s finest—and the recent miniseries has Aidan Turner at his finest, too. So it’s making the list on the, er, strength of that one scene where Aidan’s in a towel alone. Can you blame me? Let’s just think of what’s under the towel as the true romantic mystery.
This gothic novel by Daphne duMaurier has become a classic. The unnamed heroine, a young newlywed, lives under the shadow of her husband’s first wife, Rebecca. Manderley, the immense deWinter estate, is ruled by a sinister housekeeper: Creepella McCreeperson herself, Mrs. Danvers. Danvers won’t stop reminding the new Mrs. deWinter that she can never match her predecessor for beauty, sophistication, or charm. The heroine’s attempts to unravel the mysteries surrounding Rebecca and her death result in startling revelations. No spoilers from me!
Does this series really need an introduction? Sure, Watson ostensibly has Mary, and Sherlock supposedly has a thing for Irene Adler. But let’s get honest here, this mystery series (in book, movie and TV formats) has launched a thousand slash ships. Sherlock/Watson might be the most traditional pairing, but I’m partial to Sherlock/Moriarty, as played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Scott in the recent BBC Sherlock series.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a hardcore Janeite, aka Austen fangirl. I even came to historical romance through writing Jane Austen fan fiction. So I can’t write this list without including Austen’s send-up of the gothic novels popular during her time. Catherine Morland, an imaginative young woman and voracious reader of lurid, melodramatic romances, is a guest of the Tilney family at Northanger Abbey. The Abbey appears charming on the surface, but a mysterious suite of locked rooms and stories surrounding the death of Mrs. Tilney spark Catherine’s imagination. Her theories of intrigue and murder almost ruin her burgeoning relationship with Henry Tilney—but it’s true, not fictional, romance that brings her back down to earth.
One of my favorite books of all time, and one of the novels that made me fall in love with romance. Jane may be “poor, plain and little” but she never surrenders her individuality or her choices, and Rochester is the mold from which many a dark, tortured romantic hero has been cast. The mystery element doesn’t take up the whole book, but boy is it ever a game-changer for Jane and Rochester’s romance. Just who is that woman locked upstairs in the attic?
We love all of these choices — and Tessa’s new book, too! Do You Want to Start a Scandal is out now, and you can grab your copy here: Amazon | BN.com | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play | All Romance. And for more historical stories of love and suspense, be sure to visit our Everything Romance page.