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Friday, January 7, 2011

The Wager by Christine Young

The Wager by Christine Young
Publisher: Awe-Struck Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (246 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Amorica Hepburn was sent to London to find a husband. Finding a man was the last item on her agenda.

With her two cousins, Amorica wagers she can dissuade her suitor before the others. Despite her efforts she discovers a chemistry that cannot be denied. Suddenly she was the arrogant man's wife, pledged to a marriage neither desired. But swept off to his ancestral home above the Dover cliffs and into his strong embrace, Amorica was soon possessed by a raging passion for the husband she had vowed to despise.

Damian Andrews couldn't afford to trust the emerald-eyed spitfire who happened upon his secret. Amorica's hatred of all men of his kind only inflamed the war that raged between them. Still, he could not control the intense desire his stubborn bride inspired, or make her surrender to his will until he had conquered the headstrong beauty on the battlefield of love.

The cousin who disenchants her suitor first wins the bet -- this is the wager Amorica, Ravyn, and Christel make. Since the cousins are not in London for the Season by choice, their hearts are not into finding a husband. Consequently, life gets complicated as the Duchess chaperones them from one social event to another.

The suitor who woos and beds one of the cousins wins -- this is the wager that Damian Andrews, Richy, and Dicky make. Damian, in his disguise as a seemingly inebriated English society popinjay, is pulled into the bet as he plies his dangerous business of smuggling political and religious refugees off the Continent and on to America. While Richy and Dicky need to marry to continue living the wastrel life they are accustom to, Damian does not plan to ever marry again.

Curiosity, childhood trauma, and a wide stubborn streak, plays havoc with Amorica’s life as she and Damian Andrews’ lives become entangled to the extent only marriage can save her reputation. Their strife-filled relationship propels the reader along in a rushing torrent of high emotions that boggle the mind. His clandestine business and Amorica’s hatred for his kind drive a wedge between them, even though passion sizzles and flames when they are together. Each of them lives in a personal torment because of past traumas and present circumstances.

The secondary characters, while important in the unfolding of the plot, pale in light of the strong personalities of Amorica and Damian, who both feel and function with extreme emotions that bring about hostile scenes as well as love scenes that take the breath away.

The climax of The Wager, a terrifying experience, takes Amorica and Damian passed old negative emotions and clears the way for each of them to acknowledge true feelings.

Some of the spellbinding scenes in The Wager squeeze out the last drop of emotion. Yet, I felt as though I was on the outside looking in rather than having a vicarious experience with the characters. However, too much was going on and too much was at stake for me to put the book down until I found out how this high drama worked out.

Amorica and Damian’s happy-ever-after is hard won with both emotional and physical scars to prove it.