I was really looking forward to the new regency romance, Wager for a Wife, by Karen Tuft. I really enjoyed the connection that this book has to her last one, The Earl's Betrothal. Very clever!
This book starts out with a lot of point of view changes and that threw me at first as I tried to get to know the characters. Once I got a little further in and felt more grounded, though, I was able to really enjoy the story.
William, the new Viscount Farleigh, has returned home to clean up the mess the previous viscount, his father, has made of his estate. It is in dire straits, and the people and servants he loves will be adversely affected if he can't figure a way out of the financial mess. There is one avenue that could save them all---years ago, a bet was made and if William calls in the vowel, he will marry an heiress with a sizable dowry. Enter Louisa. She is making her debut and has caught the eye of the Earl of Kerridge. He asks for her hand and Louisa accepts, only to find out that her grandfather had bet her hand in marriage and lost---and now she must marry William! Needless to say the relationship with Louisa and William gets off to a rocky start.
I really loved how the author showed us the differences in William and Louisa (which led to many misunderstandings) but also slowly revealed all the things that could bring them together as a couple if they would only trust in that. The heroine has a strong sense of honor, but also wants to marry for love and William is a puzzle for her that she wants to solve. I loved that Louisa was so relatable trying to navigate a situation that was thrust upon her and yet, still wants to fulfill her dreams of marrying for love and not for her dowry. William is a sigh-worthy hero, trying to do what's right while reconciling everything his father has done to him personally and financially. He has some emotional scars and I thought the author kept him authentic as he dealt with those issues and tried to overcome them in order to win Louisa's heart. The secondary cast was memorable and really quite sweet. It was nice to see Anthony in this book, as he is the main character in another book by this author. If you are a fan of sweet regency romance, I know you'll enjoy this one. Lots of emotional ups and downs, but an ending that will have you closing the book with a smile. Another gem by Ms. Tuft.
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Here's the back copy:
William Barlow’s life has been forever altered: his estranged father is dead, and William has inherited the title of Viscount Farleigh. Along with the title comes a neglected estate, an enormous amount of gambling debt, and one astounding acquisition that will turn William’s world upside down . . . It is her first London Season, and Lady Louisa Hargreaves could not be more pleased. She has attracted the attention of the Earl of Kerridge, and the two are on the cusp of an official betrothal. That is, until she learns of a generations-old family debt: her grandfather gambled her hand in marriage and lost, and now Louisa must pay the price. She will marry not the earl but a man she just met, who has taken her freedom in one fell swoop. Even as she struggles to understand the handsome and aloof man she is to wed, Louisa is irresistibly drawn to him—and he to her. But she soon realizes he is harboring secrets, and as her wedding day approaches, she must discover what her future husband is hiding before she makes the gravest mistake of her life.
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