A wager leads to complicated consequences when it brings two unusual people together.
Orphan Sophie Campbell has been cared for grudgingly by her grandfather, a stodgy old viscount who disowns her as soon as she reaches adulthood. Taught to play cards by her father as a child, Sophie learns how to make her living at the gambling tables of the Vega Club as an adult. She gambles carefully, losing as often as she wins, and endeavors to attract as little attention to herself as possible. Her resolution is blown to smithereens when Jack Lindeville, the Duke of Ware, proposes a wager of 5,000 pounds and demands a week of her company if she loses. When he proposes the wager, Jack tells himself that he only wants to keep his dissolute younger brother, Phillip, away from Vega and Sophie. But his impulsiveness forces the couple to live together for a few days in a home that is tucked away from the bustle of London, and the recalcitrant duke winds up getting much more than he gambled for. Despite its predictable contrivances, the first installment of Linden’s Wagers of Sin series is brilliantly rescued by credible lovers and honest emotions. Allowing women to gamble openly with men, the Vega Club is an unusually egalitarian variant of the Regency-era gambling den, vividly reminiscent of the city whose name it resembles. Jack’s distaste for gambling contrasts sharply with Sophie’s undeniable skill at playing cards and adds an element of tension to their silky smooth sexual chemistry. But the beauty of the romance lies more in the telling of the story than the plot itself, which begins to wear thin in the second half.
Regency romance fans will enjoy the unmistakable air of intensity and wistfulness that enlivens a fairly straightforward love story.