Reviewed by Francine
This is a quick sexy read (novella), in which the heroine, Gabriella, believes a birthing misfortune will leave her a spinster until her dying day. Likewise, the hero, Nicholas, had long ago brutally said as much: thus a childhood friendship had ceased to be. But years later a risqué wager laid down on high stakes ensures Gabriella and Nicholas are destined to meet again. Whilst for Gabriella the past cannot be forgotten, on a prompt Nicholas struggles to remember something he may have said or done at age 12 yrs of age. Of course, when the awful truth is revealed, sense of guilt cloaks about him, whilst desires of the flesh, namely Gabriella’s flesh taunt and overwhelm him with physical needs. The dilemma then arises in how to seduce her mind, delight in amorous pursuits, and win the wager.
An accepted marriage of convenience based on a wager is one thing, and when love, true love enters play, revenge on the person who waged the challenge seems fair recompense for intended humiliation of Gabriella, and the very fact the Earl of Thornwich set out to play Nicholas Lord Eastden for an utter fool. Thus Nicholas turns the wager on its head, and Gabriella’s brother is subjected to contracted terms that are a tad humiliating, though as a reader I would have liked it better had Nicholas made Thornwich squirm to the point of near ruination before saving the blaggard’s neck. Nonetheless this is a sweet ugly duckling tale with a few explicit sex scenes, in which the leading man abides to the principle and honour of a true gentleman.