by Jane Ashford
Published by: Sourcebooks
Genres: Historical Romance
After watching her husband gamble his life away, Lady Emma Tarrant is determined to prevent another young man from meeting a similar fate. So she challenges the scoundrel who holds his debts to another game. Intrigued by the challenge, the scoundrel, Lord Colin Wareham agrees, but if he wins, the lady must give him her heart.
I am a sucker for tropes with marriage wagers, bargains, and agreements. They never work as planned and offer up a delicious tale as the characters find things more complicated than they ever imagined. Jane Ashford’s Marriage Wager delivers a historical romance with suspense; unique characters and a complicated romance between two stubbornly flawed characters. Mini review: entertaining, colorful characters, romantic.
Lord Colin Wareham is on board a ship returning home to London. He has spent eight years at war. He is bone tired, emotionally damaged and ready to fulfill his family duties. Aboard the same ship is Lady Emma Tarrant, who is finally returning to England. Years ago she fled England to marry the man her father forbade her to wed. Life has been hard, and she returns to London a widow, shamed, and broke. Little do these two know that their paths will soon cross and forever change their path. The tale that unfolds was well paced, with unique characters, and delicious banter. I found myself thoroughly entertained.
Stubborn, damaged, and opinionated characters always create exciting tales, and Ashford delivers them in spades. Colin is home from the war, but the war still haunts his dreams. He closes himself off to others. Emma made a foolish mistake for love, and vows never to repeat it. Lady Mary is a drama Queen! You won’t believe the shenanigans she gets up to. Robin is a young man trying to find himself. He tries gambling, and dressing like a dandy but his meddling father, and lousy luck at the tables makes it difficult. Meddling parents and family on both sides would have had me running for the countryside. A nefarious villain, and an unusual servant added suspense and humor. All of the characters had a unique voice and at one time or another I found myself wanting to throttle them. These characters made me laugh and at times pull my hair out in frustration.
Head strong characters and physical attraction made the Marriage Wager an engaging and entertaining read. Emma sets out to protect a young man from the dangers of gambling. She enters into a game of cards with Colin and the stakes have never been higher. It began as a bet for the notes or a one night stand but when they are caught in a compromising position they need to strike another bargain. Ashford did an excellent job of creating suspense, conflict and drama between the couple all while weaving in other colorful characters and side stories. While, at times, I wanted to knock both of them over the head for assumptions and lack of communication; I did end up caring for this couple. I found the families escapades to be delightful, and ooh, I just wanted to slap Emma’s Dad and Colin’s mother around a few times. Colin could be a knuckled-headed toad and his action kept pulling me from the tale. Emma was equally frustrating with her “I will handle it myself attitude.” Thankfully we ended up seeing growth in them and I am happy to report I closed the book with a smile.
Fans of historical romance, flawed characters and marriage tropes, will enjoy The Marriage Wager. It offered up an entertaining tale, with laughter, frustration and a sweet romance.
Three cups of coffee out of five
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