Anya Wylde: The Wicked Wager

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.

Part mystery, part Regency romance The Wicked Wager is a delightfully far-fetched escape into a world where the men are reformed rakes (and rich and handsome to boot), the young ladies are beautiful and tenacious (and rich and titled, too) and the villains are oh so wicked.

Wylde exercises some serious writing chops, and gets creative with a genre mash-up.  The Wicked Wager is not really a mystery–at least not until the final chapters–and it’s not really a romp.  The beginning starts of as a tradition Reg Rom but goes a bit pear-shaped in the middle as it shifts to a mystery.  Altogether it is unexpected, at times funny, and mostly sweet.

The story includes a masquerade which requires a little bit of a suspension of disbelief.  And with the exception of a few drop in the bucket references, the historical component is light; this easily could have been an Edwardian or later murder mystery–the Reg. era is definitely not the star here.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Wicked Wager and definitely look forward to reading more from Wylde–a true talent!

(4.75 out of 6.  Thoroughly enjoyable, though a bit of a draggy middle.  Readers looking for something different from the traditional Reg Rom will find Wylde a breath of fresh air!)

Content Rating/Heat Index...As the heat goes up, the more you need a colorful fan!
Adult subject matter, scenes
Kissing and embracing.
Some minor violence and violent subject matter
Not recommended for young audiences or vanilla hist-ro/trad. Reg Rom lovers.

* An electronic copy was provided by the author for review purposes.  No other compensation was provided.

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