This is my book blog, where I review books I read as part of Cannonball Read 16, where members compete to be the first to reach 52. We also try to get people excited about books and reading, and make money for cancer charities. This year, I will be reading and reviewing in memory of friends and family who died of cancer in the past few years. I managed 104 reviews last year, let's see if I can repeat the feat. Wish me luck!
Tuesday 31 December 2013
#CBR5 Book 147. "Knaves' Wager" by Loretta Chase
Page count: 240 pages Rating: 4 stars Thanks to Mrs. Julien for her awesome romance review template!
Knaves’ Wager is a romance of the
you are everything I never knew I always wanted AND opposites attract variety:
Boy meets girl. He is the reprobate former best friend of her now-dead husband.
She hates him because she believes he drove her husband to his early death, and
is left owing him crippling gambling debts. He agrees to a foolish wager to
seduce her against all odds. Boy and girl move forward together secure in their
love and commitment.
A historical romance set in the Regency era just around the end of the Napoleonic
wars and written by Loretta Chase, Knaves’
Wager is my fourteenth book by this author. I generally find her work at
least enjoyable, and at its best, spectacular and infinitely re-readable. Chase
is, most famously, the author of Lord of
Scoundrels, the book All About Romance’s readers have voted as the number
one in their top 100 for more than a decade. Personally, I prefer The Last Hellion, but what do I know? I
found Knaves’ Wager, one of her early
romances diverting, enjoyable and romantic. This book is a clean (lacking in
any sex scenes, graphic or otherwise) romance, and I’ve seen it compared to the
writing of Georgette Heyer. However, none of the Heyer books I’ve read contain
the palpable sexual tension present in this novel, or kisses half so scorching
as some of the ones in this book, so be aware that it’s not entirely chaste. I have
several of Chase’s early romances still on my TBR List and will continue to
seek them out because this one really was very enjoyable indeed and I would absolutely
recommend it to others.
The main plot of Knaves’ Wager
focuses on the reformation of a rake. Lord Julian Wyndhurst, Marquess of
Brandon is that rake. He is stinking rich, handsome as sin and has a reputation
for gambling and vice. He’s also been on the Continent for seven years since
his involvement in a particularly scandalous duel, working closely to bring
down Napoleon, and is exasperated to be brought home only to sort out his young
cousin, Lord Robert Downs’s scandalous betrothal. Lilith Davenant is a widow
and a victim of circumstance. She is formidable, all that is proper, decorous
and virtuous, and a caring and affectionate aunt, willing to sacrifice even the
last remains of her fortune to secure happier futures for her nieces and
nephews than she herself found in her unfortunate marriage. Due to her
husband’s gambling debts to Lord Brandon, she is forced to accept the proposal
of an old friend to secure her future. Brandon agrees to seduce Lilith in order
to get Robert’s mercenary mistress to release Robert from the betrothal. Julian
and Lilith start out as antagonists, at least in Lilith’s eyes, yet they cannot
deny the attraction they feel towards each other. Over time, they come to
discover that despite any challenges they face, they make an excellent team.
The subplot in Knaves’ Wager revolves
around Robert, Brandon’s young, somewhat dim cousin and Lilith’s clever niece Miss
Cecily Glenwood, who is in London for her first season. The seemingly guileless
country miss sets about not only getting her chosen husband, but making sure
her aunt doesn’t end up in a stuffy marriage of convenience either. It was an
excellent addition which nicely complemented the main plot.
While an early effort of Chase’s, written in the early 1990s, this novel
still has great characterisations, an excellent eye for detail and wonderfully
witty banter. Brandon really has his work cut out for him, wooing and charming
the icy Lilith, and it’s glorious to see the calculating libertine gradually
fall head over heels for the irreproachable widow. As some of Chase’s most
recent novels have been rather mediocre and a bit of a disappointment, it was
delightful to discover that I have more of her good work to look forward to.
For anyone wanting a gateway into romance reading, you would be strongly
recommended to check out Loretta Chase, but avoid her Dressmaker series, pretty much everything else she’s written is