The Wicked Wager

Anya Wylde
The Wicked Wager
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Release Date
August 2012
Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense/Mystery

The infamous rake, Lord Richard Hamilton, has finally chosen his bride—the very appropriate Miss Emma Grey.

The ton approves, Lord Grey is pleased, Lady Grey delighted, and Emma is over the moon, but her uncle, (the blasted) Duke of Arden opposes the match, and Emma is ordered to move to the duke's estate to think things over.

Richard Hamilton refuses to take things lying down and concocts a plan. A plan that should have brought the lovers together and had them married within a month. It was a simple matter of masquerading as the duke's gardener, compromising the lady, and then having the duke rush them off to Gretna Green.

Alas, he underestimates the duke's intelligence and the tangled situation on the estate—never had he imagined that compromising a lady could be so difficult.

His endeavours lead to a comedy of errors, charades, and knotty love affairs. Yet he forges ahead in spite of pesky house guests, a flea bitten mattress, his lovesick best friend, and a blackmailer.

Just when things seem to be going well, someone is murdered (very inconvenient), and he happens to be one of the suspects (extremely inconvenient).

His simple plan for winning the wager suddenly becomes … a tad complicated.

Book Review by Lynn (reviewer)
Dec 03, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
67 people found the following review helpful
THE WICKED WAGER has it all- love, murder and laughter.

Unlike the traditional regency romance, Miss Emma Gray and Lord Richard Hamilton do not spend the entirety of this book sorting through their feelings for one another until they finally find love. No, Emma and Richard meet, immediately fall in love, and get engaged. The conflict for the book comes when Emma's uncle, The Duke of Arden, asks that the marriage be postponed for one year. Emma decides to go visit her uncle to convince him to change his mind, but that is not good enough for Richard.

Richard proposes a wager: Richard bets Emma that he can disguise himself as a gardener at the duke's home and the duke will not figure it out in one month's time. If the duke does figure it out, Richard will not complain about Emma following the duke's advice, but if the duke does not figure it out, then Emma has to agree to being caught in a compromising situation with Richard so they are forced to immediately marry.

The comedy that ensues is fantastic. The duke is immediately suspicious of the new gardener and Emma seeking him out so much. The others in the house are whispering about Emma having an affair with the gardener; someone even tries to blackmail "the gardener", threatening to expose the affair. There are dark secrets being kept by the duke's sister. The duke's wife talks to ghosts. Two visitors in the house, Mrs. Barker and her daughter Prudence, are both trying to work their powers of seduction.

When the duke invites Richard for a visit, he asks his friend William to impersonate him so he can continue to try to win the wager. Emma's cousin Catherine finds herself developing feelings for William, who she thinks is Emma's fiancé. And then everything is disrupted with a murder!

The nonstop action and laugh-out-loud comedic situations is what had me rating this book as 4 stars. Ms. Wylde does a good job of showing Emma and Richard's deep and honest feelings for one another, along with their hesitations to admit their emotions. Their time together is sweet, even when they are bantering back and forth. That base relationship makes the wager and all of the craziness that follows, more entertaining. There were a couple of points in the story where I felt there were too many different plots occurring with too many different characters and they were difficult to follow. Some of the side characters and their stories, like the Barkers, did not feel like a necessary piece of the plot until the very end of the story. The more people in the house, the more suspects when someone turns up dead!

Speaking of the end, I did not expect it. There was a lot of information about the duke and his family, and even a new family member was introduced at the end. The information was helpful in understanding the motives and actions of some characters, but the amount of information and the amount of time taken to give it seemed overabundant. But in continuing with the comedic theme, the duke is told that he is talking too much while he is sharing all of his information. The love is no surprise, the "whodunit" is, but it seems that love and justice cannot both prevail!
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