Harper. Jul. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9780063354890. $30. F
DEBUT Set in Rome during 1969, Dunlay’s first novel follows aging Texas debutante Theodora “Teddy” Huntley Carlyle. At 35, she’s determined to land a husband and does so in short order, marrying American diplomat David Shepard. Teddy dreams that her new marriage will facilitate lavish parties, shopping, and rubbing shoulders with the elite. She believes that with impeccable manners and fashionable styling, her fantasy happily-ever-after has arrived. But the reality is lackluster until the fateful party where she meets the American ambassador Warren “the Wolf” Carey. Teddy charms the partygoers and believes the social standing she’s craved is within her grasp. However, her world comes crashing down during a Fourth of July soiree when a moment of passion, literal fireworks, and a photographer leave her scrabbling to contain a scandal that could ruin her marriage and multiple political careers.
VERDICT The novel is charming and entertaining as a whole, and Teddy as a character is lovable despite all her faults. Readers who enjoy narratives that unfold with many twists and turns, as in the work of Liane Moriarty, will enjoy.
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