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(Wicked Wagers, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

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):

To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield (Wicked Wagers, #1) by Bronwen Evans To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone (Wicked Wagers, #2) by Bronwen Evans To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood (Wicked Wagers, #3) by Bronwen Evans

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(Wicked Wagers, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

They Say Revenge is Sweet…

Marcus Danvers, the Marquis of Wolverstone, is renowned for his cynical demeanor. It’s rumored that long ago, a beautiful woman broke his heart. Now he lives life for pleasure. He’s the consummate, handsome rake. If anyone tries to get too close—let’s just say his bark is as bad as his bite. That is, until the beautiful, as she is deceitful, Contessa Orsini re-enters his life with a wager he cannot resist. When he wins, he’ll have Sabine exactly where he wants her—in his bed and at his mercy.

Forced to return to England and avenge her father’s death, Sabine knows the one person who can help her is the only man she has ever loved—Marcus. The man who hates her with as much passion as he once loved her. But Marcus doesn’t know that by winning the wager he’ll also be getting his revenge. For there are some secrets best left buried…

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This is the second novella in the Wicked Wagers series and, whilst I enjoyed it, I did have some issues with the heroine’s actions which affected my final star rating.

This was much darker than the first book with its theme of revenge. For ten long years, Marcus has never forgiven or forgotten  Sabine’s cruel betrayal of his love. He had been willing to sacrifice everything for her. When Sabine, now Contessa Orsini, a rich Italian widow, asks him for help in exacting revenge on the man who ruined her father and caused her parents’ deaths, he sees a way of gaining his own revenge…she will become his lover until he tires of her.

I could almost taste the anger and bitterness in Marcus’s crude and cruel words when Sabine approaches him at Lady Somerset’s ball and I thought this was such an evocative description.

His fury swarmed around her like a smothering sand storm— abrasive and deadly.

I really felt for Sabine. All her dreams destroyed and then forced to keep terrible secrets in order to protect those she loved. The only light in her lonely life over the past ten years has been her son, Alfredo…he gave her the will to live. I admired how much she loves her son despite the circumstances of his birth and will do anything to protect him. She has never stopped loving Marcus and I could feel the intense pain caused by his harsh words. It was heart-breaking to know that she longed for something she knew could never have…

Tenderness, love and his heart.

When it comes time for Marcus to take his personal revenge on Sabine, he doesn’t feel elated as he imagined he would. It is evident that he still has deep feelings for her.

He’d forced her to her come to him like a whore— bought and paid for.
“Bloody hell,” he muttered.
A sharp pang of regret sliced through him. What he wanted was for her to come to him of her own accord. To tell him she’d made a mistake all those years ago and that he was the only man she’d ever loved. Then he wanted to start to learn how to believe in her and trust her again.

He even gives her the option to leave but, of course, she chooses to stay. I enjoyed how they talked first and how the love scene was a combination of tenderness and raw sensuality.

I did have issues with Sabine’s actions where the villainous Lord Gower was concerned. It was almost a TSTL (too stupid to live) moment when she gloats over her success in causing his financial ruin, only to have him turn the tables on her and gain the upper hand. She took some foolhardy decisions which not only put her own life in danger but also the lives of those she loved, the one thing she had always been determined to avoid. I just wanted her to tell Marcus the whole truth and let him handle it!

I did like Lady Amy Shipton very much. She’s beautiful and intelligent but also compassionate and refuses to marry Marcus when she knows his heart lies elsewhere. She is deserving of her own Happy Ever After to a man worthy of her love.

FAVOURITE ROMANTIC QUOTE:

“I’m truly the luckiest man in the world now. I’m living proof that love conquers all; that love, with time and forbearance, overcomes all wickedness.”

Overall, although I did have some issues as mentioned above, I did enjoy this book but not as much as To Dare of Duke of Dangerfield.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2015

Wicked Wagers series (click on the book covers for more details):

To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield (Wicked Wagers, #1) by Bronwen Evans To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone (Wicked Wagers, #2) by Bronwen Evans To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood (Wicked Wagers, #3) by Bronwen Evans

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(Wicked Wagers, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Let the Wicked Wagers Begin…

Lady Caitlin Southall’s temper has finally got the better of her. She’s challenged Harlow Telford, the Duke of Dangerfield, the most notorious rake in all of England, to a wager. She wants her house back. The one her destitute father lost to Dangerfield in a card game. But if she doesn’t win their bet, she not only loses her home, she loses her dignity and pride and damn it all, maybe her heart… For the handsome Duke has decreed, when he wins, she must spend the night in his bed.

Harlow Telford is amused by his hellion neighbor, Caitlin, or Cate to her friends, who seem to encompass everyone on earth except him. When she bursts into one of his private gatherings, he mistakes her for the entertainment. Her slap across his face sets him straight and raises the absurd desire to seduce the unconventional beauty into his bed. When she issues her daft challenge to win back her father’s pile of rubble, the terms are set. And he’ll do anything to win—except fall in love…

♥♥♥♥

This was my first book by Bronwen Evans and I really enjoyed it. It was longer than the average novella and I felt this allowed for effective characterisation and a well-paced story.

Harlow turned out to be quite a surprise. He appears to be a typical rake, only concerned for his own pleasures but, deep down, he is a man who really cares about his mother and half-brother, Jeremy. I could understand his desire for revenge against the man who brought ruination to his mother and his desire to secure Jeremy’s birth right. His honourable actions towards Caitlin were not at all what I expected. It was clear that he would not have gambled with her father had he known that Mansfield Manor was in trust for Caitlin but it created a real dilemma for him. He felt obligated to keep his promise to Jeremy but he also needed to secure Caitlin’s future by marrying her.

I enjoyed seeing the growth in Harlow’s character. Getting to know Caitlin makes him take a good look at his life…a meaningless life in which he has achieved very little. He is afraid that by opening up to Caitlin and sharing his life with her, she will find him sadly lacking and, for the first time, he wants more.

Tonight had been a revelation. Caitlin stirred more than his lust. He wanted her respect. He wanted to be… more. More for her. He suddenly found himself in the unenviable position of wanting a woman to be proud of him. He wanted her to look at him with pride, rather than simply seeing him as a title and a means to a life of wealth and ease.

Looks can be deceptive. Outwardly Caitlin may look delicate but she has a will of iron, shown in her determination not to lose Mansfield Manor. It takes boldness and daring to put the mighty Duke of Dangerfield firmly in his place.

“I’m Lady Caitlin Southall,” she called over her shoulder and, filled with satisfaction at seeing his mouth drop open, she kicked Ace of Spades and tore off at a gallop— spraying His Grace with clods of earth.
The string of curses behind her made her laugh out loud. Bumping into the duke or, rather, leaving Dangerfield in a shower of dirt, made her day.

I like how she refuses to compromise over what she truly wants from life… a partner in marriage, a man who truly loves her and understands the meaning of commitment. Despite the fact that Harlow represents everything that she despises, arrogant and overbearing, she can’t help but be attracted to him. He challenges her and treats her as an equal and, for the first time in her life, she no longer feels lonely. Her life is full of fun and happiness.

The romance…the battle of wills, the witty banter, the wagers (particularly the cake baking one), the heated, passionate encounters…is immensely enjoyable.

I was intrigued by Harlow’s friends and fellow rakehells, the arrogant Lord Marcus Danvers, Marquis of Wolverstone and the rather more honourable Lord Henry St. Giles, Earl of Cravenswood and look forward to reading their stories.

My only criticism is about the ending. While I understand the necessity for Jeremy to feel genuine remorse for his actions, the events do seem overly dramatic and somewhat contrived. However, this was a relatively small point and didn’t really spoil my overall enjoyment of the story.

Favourite Romantic Quote:

“I need a woman who completes me. Who fills my soul with song, and who can bring me to my knees in adoration with one simple smile.”

Overall, romantic, witty and entertaining.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2015

Wicked Wagers series (click on the book cover for more details):

To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield (Wicked Wagers, #1) by Bronwen Evans To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone (Wicked Wagers, #2) by Bronwen Evans To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood (Wicked Wagers, #3) by Bronwen Evans

 

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