The Dance of Desire

A Muses of Scandal Novel

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Book 2 of Muses of Scandal
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Pub Date 22 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2024

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In 1873 Paris, a marriage of convenience between a ballet-dancing beauty and a beastly earl is about to get messy in this Grumpy/Sunshine historical romance inspired by Beauty and the Beast.

Best friends make bad spouses . . . and worse scandals.

When Angela Bartham of the notorious Bartham family is stranded at the altar on her wedding day, she's saved from ruin by her old friend Sunny, the Earl of Sunderland. He offers a startlingly generous proposition: a marriage of convenience that will last exactly one year. Long enough for society to stop gossiping. Long enough for the press to lose interest. Then they’ll quietly annul their unconsummated union.

Left without choices, Angela agrees. But Sunny is no longer the sweet but awkward boy she grew up with—and who once loved her. A mysterious trip abroad has transformed him into a surly, secretive beast of a man who can’t seem to stand the sight of her. Nor is Angela the romantic girl who once danced all night under the moon. She’s a heartbroken beauty trapped in a fake marriage that can’t end soon enough.

To avoid the chattering crowds, Angela and Sunny flee London to spend their year of marriage in Paris. But what they don’t take into consideration is that emotions aren’t particularly rational . . . especially when there’s only one bed in the gothic feline-laden chateau they’re stuck inside near the Bois de Boulogne. Forced proximity reveals hidden depths, turning their marriage of convenience into a messy affair of the heart. Will Angela and Sunny's dance of desire come to an end, destroying everything they hold dear—including their friendship?

Standalone romance that can be read out of series order. Available in ebook and trade softcover formats. 

In 1873 Paris, a marriage of convenience between a ballet-dancing beauty and a beastly earl is about to get messy in this Grumpy/Sunshine historical romance inspired by Beauty and the Beast.


Advance Praise

"Ross will steal your heart with this utterly delightful, romantic friends-to-lovers retelling of Beauty and the Beast." — HEATHER WEBB, USA Today bestselling author of Queens of London


“Charming and sexy.” — ELIZA KNIGHT, USA Today bestselling author

“Chock full of compelling characters, charm, and heartfelt emotion.” — HARPER ST. GEORGE

“Beguiling . . . for fans of Evie Dunmore, Mimi Matthews, and Emily Sullivan.” — Historical Novel Review

“A fascinating read!” — MIMI MATTHEWS, USA Today bestselling author

"Ross will steal your heart with this utterly delightful, romantic friends-to-lovers retelling of Beauty and the Beast." — HEATHER WEBB, USA Today bestselling author of Queens of London


Available Editions

ISBN 9798985351279

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Average rating from 54 members

Featured Reviews

If you read The Poetics of Passion, you may recall the glimpses into Angela and Sunny’s relationship. Friends for years, she turned down his marriage proposal in that book, ending with him departing for Europe, their friendship over. Meanwhile, Angela got engaged to someone else… and that’s where The Dance of Desire picks things up. The disastrous wedding that starts the book is quite unexpected, and the way things rapidly turn out is even more surprising. I was certainly hooked right from the beginning!

Angela and Sunny were once friends, but now he sees her as an enemy. And this marriage they now find themselves in is, in his mind, an act of revenge. To escape the gossip, Sunny takes Angela to his French chateau near the Bois de Boulogne of Paris. It’s rather gothic, and only one room has a bed. That paired with Sunny’s rules make it a bit of a prison for Angela. This marriage of convenience, meant only to avoid further scandal for her family, will also be a short one, with plans to quietly annul it after a year. But what will a year of forced proximity do to their friendship… and the feelings of love Sunny still harbors deep down?

I loved getting to know both Angela and Sunny. They each have their own backstories, adding depth to how they’ve interacted up until now. Sunny also has secrets about what’s been going on with a French woman, Hélèn, in recent months. Despite his beastly attitude lately, I had a soft spot for Sunny and for how unworthy he’s felt for most of his life. Angela’s previous rejection only adds to his feelings of inferiority, and I just wanted him to know he’s amazing the way he is!

Another thing I loved is the Beauty and the Beast vibes. That is one of my top three favorite Disney movies, and I always love seeing retellings of it. Here, we have the French setting and the gothic chateau (not quite a castle), and even if Sunny doesn’t quite look like a beast, he’s been acting like one. Here, the staff go mostly unseen, which works with the theme. I enjoyed seeing Angela lose herself in ballet, and I was especially delighted by the basket of kittens that shows up in their home!

The Dance of Desire has some exciting action and a touch of mystery surrounding some of the French characters. But I also loved how tender the relationship between Sunny and Angela is, with former friends learning to get along again, perhaps slowly become even more than just friends.

The Dance of Desire is a charming and heartfelt book with depth, angst, and a bit of thrilling action. It easily combines a few different romance tropes with a lovely fairy tale retelling, ending up with a novel that is at once original and sweetly familiar. I’ve enjoyed the Muses of Scandal series and look forward to continuing it. According to the author’s note at the end of The Dance of Desire, the next book will follow Lyra Bartham, one of the twins, in a “Romeo and Juliet-inspired tale of forbidden love.” Consider me excited to read that as soon as it’s available! And I hope there will be a fourth book for the other twin, Theo, after that.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op for the opportunity to read and review this ARC!

The Dance of Desire is the second Muses of Scandal novel, and I went into this completely blind having not read The Poetics of Passion. I was excited to see that the Muses of Scandal series seems to be about a single family, which means that you do get to see those relationships develop and from different perspectives. With that said, I do agree that this is effectively a standalone and not having read the first one did not impact me much at all, beyond wanting more details about the first couple's story as Angela has thoughts on her sister's match and career choices occasionally throughout the book.

This book was a great light and fairly low-stakes read with an endearing and quirky cast of side characters. With more historical romance books I always worry that it will feel dry, or slow paced, since society gives a such a strict structure of rules for how men and women should interact. But in this book, the world felt full of color and the characters were so full of life and personality, I was enjoying myself immediately.

The history that we're given for Sunny and Angela felt real and deep, giving weight to the intense emotions we are shown later. The pacing around the wedding and the conflicts immediately after felt a bit too rushed for me, but nothing that really shook me out of the story or my enjoyment. Once we're at the estate where most of the book takes place the story becomes a Beauty and the Beast retelling - the conversations between Sunny and Dubois (his estate's caretaker) during this time felt very reminiscent of Mrs. Potts and the Beast, which was very charming and funny at times.

Ross did so well in juggling conflict and secrets that push the plot forward, while revealing things at the perfect time to keep the characters likable (lovable, even!) and their relationship progressing without too much to forgive or look past. Anything that I felt would turn me off to the couple ending up together got resolved in ways I didn't quite expect and that I was completely satisfied with.

Overall I had so much fun reading this book, I rated it a 4/5 stars. I can't wait to go back and read the first Muses of Scandal book now!

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"The Dance of Desire" is a fun, witty, novel that fans of "Beauty and the Beast" and historical romance are certain to enjoy. From the book's synopsis, I knew the story would be set in 19th century Paris and include the worlds of high society and dance, two premises right up my ally. As with any new author, it took me a chapter or two to settle into Delphine Ross's writing style, but once I'd made the adjustment, I was hooked for the journey. What is not to love about the grumpy/sunshine trope and kittens! What I particularly appreciated is Ross's attention to detail and the fresh story, and the high level of writing one can expect in a historical romance. Although I was frustrated with Sunny's motives and disposition at first, once Ross reveals the reasons why he did what he did, I couldn't help by fall for him too. I only wish Angela had a few more dance scenes as that is always my favorite part of any dance-inspired book. "The Dance of Desire" is a breath of fresh air and I can't wait to check out other books in this series.

9/10 Stars.

All reviews are my own. Thank you to Muse Publications, Victory Editing NetGalley Co-Op, and Net Galley for allowing me to enjoy this book ahead of its release.

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This was a charming sequel in the Muses of Scandal series. Angela was such a strong and interesting secondary character in the first book that I was hoping she'd become a main character in the future. In this book, Angela has realized her dream of having a proper marriage, but her wedding is disrupted in a terrible way. Her best friend, Sunny, steps in to marry her on the spot. Unfortunately, Angela turned Sunny's proposal down in the last book and he is consumed by anger and a desire for revenge. The couple moves to Paris to live separate lives in misery.

Except, this is Angela, the sunshine character. While she's devastated by the turn her life has taken, she find small bits of happiness in dance and taking care of animals. Eventually, Sunny thaws and realizes his earlier feelings are still with him. While Angela and Sunny's relationship evolves, he's dealing with a gossip columnist who threatens one of his friends and Angela is worrying about her mother, who is traveling to find her father.

While this book does standalone, it's more satisfying if you've read the first book and understand the full backstory of Angela's family. The pace is pretty fast and it's an entertaining read. I think I devoured this in a day! I'm looking forward to Lyra's book!

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4.5 stars. This book was soooo much fun! The first book in the series left me with tentative hope for this author, and book two really delivered for me. Estranged childhood best friends to lovers is one of my absolute favorite tropes. Plus there’s an “only one bed, but we’ll sleep in it at different times” à la The Flatshare. And a break from England is always refreshing in a Victorian-era HR.

Sunny and Angela’s relationship is sweet and tentative. They’re both trying to guard themselves and protect their family/friends, while dealing with a very broken friendship and a marriage of convenience.

Thanks so much to NetGalley for the ARC!

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Book two in “A Muse of Scandal” series, “The Dance of Desire” was as charming and engaging as the first book. Ross writes with an easy grace and seduction that will sweep you into the story, compelling you to read through to the end with its Victorian-era style and wit. This friends to enemies to lovers retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” boasts several nods to the fairy tale of old (and the subsequent Disney movies) complete with a gothic chateau, a swoon-worthy library, a secret passageway, five adorable kittens, a jilted engagement, a beast-like male main character, and a light-hearted seemingly innocent and downtrodden female main character. Sunny, the beast, offers a marriage of convenience in a “I need to have my revenge on you for breaking my heart” sort of way to Angela who is forced to accept after a disastrous, albeit very funny for the innocent observer, first foray down the aisle.

Told with slow simmering passion, yearning, and all heart, this is definitely a series I will be continuing. Read in order or as a standalone, I appreciated that I’ve read these in order for the backstory it provided about Angela’s family, though it wasn’t necessary.

Thanks so much to NetGalley, Delphine Ross, and Muse Publications for this digital copy. I thoroughly enjoyed this romance reading it in less than a day!

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oh my gosh, i am absolutely DEVASTATED that it took me so long to read this arc. I went into this story blindly as i couldnt remember exactly what it was about but knew that i needed to review asap and I AM SO HAPPY THAT I CHOSE TO START THIS ONE.

The very beginning is immediately gripping, the chance meeting inside the armoire was so well written and then when it moved into the wedding and all the events that ensued, i was HOOKED. I am literally weak in the knees for Sunny, i love a good red headed MMC and he was truly devastating!!!!

Delphine Ross has secured a place on my list of favorite books with this one.

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