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 on a bad 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 hero and heroine and three-dimensional and relatable and the secondary cast was also well done. The author really works the rules of society in regency times in and those strictures and worries add to the authentic feel of the book.
This was a really sweet love story, with a lot of emotional ups and downs as William and Louisa try to find their happily-ever-after. So many great moments including some laugh out loud ones as well as sigh-worthy. 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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