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Friday, January 3, 2014

The Marriage Wager by Jane Ashford

It was scandalous, to wager one's reputation on a hand of cards. But Lady Emma Tarrant felt she had no choice. She had watched her husband gamble his life away, and when she saw another young man losing heavily, she was determined to save him from a similar fate. So she challenged the scoundrel who held his debts to the one thing she knew he could never refuse: another game.

After eight years of war, Lord Colin Wareham had returned home a changed man ... still handsome, still wealthy, but weary, impatient, restless. Then a furious beauty with pale gilt hair dared to accost him, and Wareham found himself suddenly intrigued --- and aroused. So he named his stakes: a loss and he'd surrender the debts. A win and the lady must surrender herself.

Emma had left seven years ago, now returning without hope of help from her family. She had married a man who her father didn't approve of and he turned out to be a gambler and gambled away all her fortune and then was killed over a wager. She was returning with little but wanted to come back to a familiar country and language. She had been supporting herself gambling playing cards; she was good but hated to do it. It wasn't an obsession with her just a way to earn a living for now.

Shortly after returning to England she was playing in a gambling hall and noticed young man playing cards with a man about 10 years older than him, Colin, and it was obvious the younger man was loosing badly. Furious she followed the older man home and asked if she could play a game of cards to erase the young mans debts. Little did she know that Colin was going to erase them anyway as he didn't believe in winning that much money from a young man who was in over his head.  Emma lost and was furious with herself, because the young man was her brother. 

Colin was entranced with Emma and was trying to find out who she was.. Emma had arrived and was trying to get Colin to play another game to erase her brother’s debt and the attraction between the two was obvious to her father when he arrived on behalf of his son. When her father saw her dress in array, he challenged Colin and there began the road to marriage that Emma never wanted.  

Jane Ashford did a great job of telling about the emotions of the different people and how families work against each other. I liked the descriptions of London and the different headstrong people clashing with each other, yet trying to get on with their life. A nice historical romance with more than one romantic couple to follow.

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