- Harlequin Historical
- Release Date
- June 2013
Raising the stakes
As the unacknowledged son of the lecherous Lord Westleigh, John "Rhys" Rhysdale was forced to earn a crust gambling on the streets. Now he owns the most thrilling new gaming establishment in London.
Witnessing polite society's debauchery and excess every night, Rhys prefers to live on its fringes, but a mysterious masked lady tempts him into the throng.
Lady Celia Gale, known only as Madame Fortune, matches Rhys card for card and kiss for stolen kiss. But the stakes are raised when Rhys discovers she's from the very world he despises.
Jan 27, 2014 [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
80 people found the following review helpful
This novel is a delightful read that at once moves both slowly and quickly. Its selling point is the hero, Rhys, who is the illegitimate son of the Earl of Westleigh and established a gaming club at the request of his legitimate brothers, intending to prove his success to the world. Rhys has a notorious reputation, yet unlike most other rakes and rogues found among Regency romances, he does not actively seek a scandalous reputation; he already had one from being born a bastard. That said, his determination and drive for success is rather admirable, as is his tenacity to live when he was abandoned by his father at the young age of fourteen, and forced to support himself through gambling, finally amassing enough skill to build his own wealth.
When Westleigh's gambling ran too deep, his sons came asking Rhys for help to establish a gaming club so they could recoup his losses. Rhys agreed, albeit reluctantly, and saw this opportunity to get a boon from his wastrel father, a boon asking to be recognized as a member of the family. Here lies the central focus of the story, and it is filled with rapid character developments from the growing affection between Rhys and his legitimate brothers and a blatant revealing of Westleigh's horrible character.
The romance aspect of the story moves rather slowly, in my opinion. The heroine, Celia Gale, is a baron's widow who is near penniless due to her husband's gambling away their fortune, yet she possesses superb gambling skills and masquerades at Rhys's club to win enough money to support her stepdaughter and mother-in-law. Celia's stepdaughter, Adele, is a sweet and innocent girl who forms an attachment with one of Rhys's brothers, Lord Neddington, and this relationship reveals to Rhys the true identity of Celia, whose person he admired and lusted after.
Even as Rhys and Celia begin a romantic relationship, Westleigh continues to serve as an antagonist who, in the past, had caused the death of Celia's father. Halfway throughout the book, the romance aspect was developing nicely, but suddenly the bomb of Rhys being Westleigh's son becomes enough to threaten his and Celia's budding romance. The continuing story somewhat dragged, and the romance was rather thrown aside for the resolution of retribution for Westleigh's past and current sins. In a sense, it feels like Westleigh was given more spotlight than he ought to have as a villain, his presence overwhelming the plot of the story.
Overall, this book is enjoyable and a very pleasant read for any hour of the day. I recommend historical romance lovers to read Diane Gaston's writing, as it is filled with historical tidbits and wonderful characterizations.
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