So this is a fairly standard historical romance, the first in a new series by Ms Linden – The Wagers of Sin. I feel like I’ve read several books lately with a similar premise – young, beautiful woman is left nearly destitute after the death of loved ones, and seeks to make a fortune by gambling. And in the course of this gambling, she meets handsome, wealthy lord who falls into lust with her and must have her.
In this case, we have Sophie Graham, aka Sophie Campbell, on her own after her parents died and her grandfather wants nothing to do with her once she finished school. She wants to make enough money to attract a good husband, thinking she needs cash since she doesn’t have a dowry. Her gambling den of choice is called the Vega Club, and it’s obviously a play on Las Vegas, i.e. what happens at Vega’s, stays at Vega’s (wink wink).
It’s at the club where Jack Lindeville, Duke of Ware, spots her flirting with his younger brother Philip. Philip is a young man who is constantly losing money, and Jack has just come to the club to pay the latest debt. He’s furious that Philip is still gambling after promising not to, and he’s also annoyed by Sophie, thinking that she is fleecing Philip. He begins to wager with her instead, and loses badly until the final bet where he wins her company for a week. She doesn’t entirely believe he will make her follow through on this, but she finds herself unceremoniously bundled into a carriage and on the road to his country estate.
And so begins their relationship. They are definitely on different ends of the social spectrum, but as they spend time together they realize that their preconceived notions of each other are wrong. Jack had been raised to be the duke, and to keep his emotions in check so he comes across as stuffy and arrogant. Sophie soon finds he has a sense of humor and he’s really quite a good guy. As to Sophie, Jack realizes she isn’t the hard bitten temptress, out to scam men for fun, and he enjoys her company immensely. The romance blossoms very quickly, even though they both think it can’t last once they return to London.
More complications ensue once they do try to keep away from each other, and there’s a silly misunderstanding that tries to add some drama to the end of the book which I didn’t appreciate. I could see it coming, and skimmed along to skip over the hand wringing to get to the finish. Then at the very end, there’s the inevitable set up for the next book, dealing with one of Sophie’s old school chums.
I’ve read and enjoyed many of Ms Linden’s books, notably the Scandalous series. This one is fine, if somewhat predictable.