(Wicked Wagers, #3)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
To live happily ever after…
Henry St. Giles, the Earl of Cravenswood, longs to find his soul mate. Now that his two best friends, both reformed rakes, are happily married, the need becomes an obsession. When they challenge him to find a wife by the end of the season or marry his neighbor, the innocently alluring Lady Amy Shipton, he can’t believe his luck. He wins, either way. But in a darkened garden, a case of mistaken identity, a drunken kiss, and a dropped emerald earring, leads Henry on a Cinderella hunt. He knows the woman he held in his arms could be the one he’s searched for all his life. He just has to find her.
Lady Amy Shipton is determined to marry for love instead of sharing her husband like her mother did. So why did she let her handsome neighbor and romantic fantasy, known as the Sinful Saint for his bedroom prowess, seduce her in his garden? And what can she do when in the middle of their passionate encounter; he whispers another woman’s name. Now Henry is hunting the owner of the earring Amy left behind, and she’s determined to retrieve it before her identity is revealed. She’s not about to give her father the ammunition he desperately wants in order to force her down the aisle.
This is the final book in the Wicked Wagers series and I was really looking forward to the pairing of two of my favourite secondary characters from the previous books, Henry and Amy. Sadly, the romance didn’t work for me and I was left disappointed.
What I did like:
Both Henry and Amy were very likeable characters.
Henry is a contradiction because, although a rake, he is honourable and kind, dubbed “the archangel of their group” by his friends. It was also refreshing to have a hero who believes in love and longs to find his soul mate as both his friends have. He feels the grief over his older brother’s death and the weight of his responsibilities as Earl of Cravenswood, a role that should never have been his, fall heavy on his shoulders.
Amy is not only beautiful and intelligent but also kind-hearted. She has been in love with her neighbour, Henry, since she was fifteen but he has failed to notice that she has grown into a beautiful and desirable young woman during the intervening years. Amy grew up knowing that her father loved his “other family”(his mistress and illegitimate children) more than her mother and herself. She does not want a marriage like her parents and will only marry for love. She knows her father wants to marry her off as quickly as possible so he can spend more time with his “other family”.
There are some memorable scenes such as the amusing one where Amy is looking for her missing earring in Henry’s garden and to allay his suspicions she says she is looking for her escaped guinea pig “Tinkles”. It was easy to conjure up a wonderful picture of Henry crawling around the rose bush getting scratched by thorns looking for the imaginary “Tinkles”!
The other scene that particularly comes to mind is where Amy is searching Henry’s room for her missing earring and has to hide under the bed when he unexpectedly enters the room. Suffice to say, she sees more than see bargained for!
I also like how Amy and her father are finally reconciled when he seeks her forgiveness and offers some fatherly words of advice.
What I didn’t like:
I didn’t like the way in which the presence of Henry’s ex long-time mistress, Millicent, pervaded the story and was used to cause the conflict between Henry and Amy. It totally soured their romance for me. One minute Henry is bemoaning the fact that he misses Millicent and the next he’s all randy over Amy. The fact that Amy looks so much like Millicent didn’t sit well with me either. The final straw was when Amy discovers that Henry still has a painting of Millicent on his study wall 18 months after she left him for another protector. His excuse that he’d forgotten it was there was just so unbelievable to me. At that point, I could totally share Amy’s doubts that Henry truly loves her. Another reviewer wrote that she felt Henry and Amy deserved a much better story and I have to agree.
This book has garnered many good reviews but it just didn’t work for me and I think readers will have to make their own minds up.
REVIEW RATING: 3/5 Stars
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
Read March 2015
Wicked Wagers series (click on the book covers for more details):