Regency Romance: e-book 134 pages
The Twelfth Night Wager, by Regan Walker, is a classy Regency romance where a wager between friends has far reaching consequences for those it concerns – a dissolute rake and a respectable young widow. There is also a cleverly woven sub plot containing elements of danger and suspense, which added to my enjoyment and acted as a catalyst to the romance. I found it a love affirming and entertaining read, welcome at any time of year but especially heart warming at Christmastime!
In The Twelfth Night Wager, Christopher St Ives, Viscount Eustace, is a rake, who toys with women for fun. His friend, Hugh Redgrave, by contrast a happily married man, sets him a challenge in a wager, which is entered into the betting book at White’s and becomes the talk of London society:
‘LD Eustace has wagered LD Ormand 1000 pounds that by Twelfth Night he can seduce, bed and walk away from a certain lady understood between them.’
The ‘certain lady’ is Grace, Lady Leisterfield, a young widow with the reputation of being very proper. Her husband has been gone a year, and Grace, encouraged by her friends, decides to shed her mourning attire and embrace life. The plot thickens when Mary, Hugh’s wife and a friend of Grace, insists that Grace be informed that she is the object of the wager. Grace nevertheless decides to welcome the Viscount’s suit, with the intention of letting him down when he finally propositions her. For his part, Eustace finds Grace very attractive and foresees no problem in using his wiles to seduce her and win the wager. Throw in a great cast of supporting characters, not least Hugh and Mary (Lord and Lady Ormand) a matchmaking dowager countess and a sub plot involving blackmail, and the scene is set for a delightful and entertaining read!
I loved Grace, who although she has been married before and is in many ways innocent, she is totally aware of the danger rakes such as Eustace pose. She is surprised however, when she starts to discover the real man beneath the façade. It is this man whom she must guard her heart against, lest she succumbs, as he will, as per the wager, only walk away from her once he has bedded her!
Eustace is a fascinating character, whilst most certainly a loveable rogue, who has had his fair share of women, underneath he is a man of substance. As the plot progresses and he gets to know Grace, he becomes very protective of her and more and more enamoured, a state that he is not familiar with. I found some of the scenes where he struggles with his feelings and Grace’s actions very humorous, especially when provoked by his friend Hugh. The sexual tension between the couple sizzles throughout and they are well matched. However, the wager stands between them and casts doubt on Eustace’s intentions. Will Grace succumb to his charms and will Eustace win the wager and still get his girl or will he lose her forever?
I enjoyed meeting characters out of the author’s other books, which I have read, notably Hugh and Mary, whose love story begins in Racing With The Wind , book #1 in Regan Walker’s Agents of The Crown Trilogy (for my review click on the title). The tale also includes fictional and real-life Regency characters and makes reference to actual events, places and Christmas and New Year customs, which add to the authenticity of the read. The Twelfth Night Wager is a great addition to the author’s Regency romances and works perfectly as a standalone. I recommend it to romance lovers who enjoy a Regency tale where a rake may finally have met his match!
A copy of this novella was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.
Reviewed by Tina Williams
Digital edition created by Maureen Cutajar www.gopublished.com
If you like the sound of The Twelfth Night Wager you may want to check out The Holly and the Thistle, a short story which takes place at the same time and featuring how one of Grace’s friends, the widow Lady Emily Picton finds love after a case of mistaken identity with a handsome Scot