Published by Smashwords Edition on August 24th 2015
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Sometimes the turn of a card changes your life.
Two years ago, Isabella Harrington defied her parents and society, and ran off with her lover to Milan. They thought they’d conquer the world at the gaming tables. But her dream of happily-ever-after led to nothing but debts and a shattered heart.
Abandoned and left on her own in a foreign city with little but her wits and skill, Isabella managed to survive. Survive and thrive, commanding the cards until she won enough to send for a very particular matchmaker.
Isabella needed a way back into the society she shunned and what better way than through a proper, aristocratic marriage? And this matchmaker of note would be her key back home to England.
Traveling the Continent, Jonathon, Duke of Strathmore, agreed to meet the mysterious Miss Harrington. Wary of the rumors surrounding her, a woman who vanished from London with only scandalous tales left in her wake, he hadn’t counted on the intriguing Isabella to thoroughly capture his attention.
Will a game of cards change both their fates? Will she become a mistress or a duchess?
¬¬Reviewed by AnnMarie¬¬
Improper Wager by Kristabel Reed is part of the Scandalous Encounters series. It is the first in the series that I have read, but I fully intend to read them all because I enjoyed this book so much.
The story is about a woman, Isabella Harrington. She lives in Milan after running away there with a man she thought herself desperately in love with. Unfortunately for her, when the bloom of scandalous romance wore off, her supposed love, took her money and left her penniless and utterly heart broken. She managed to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and worked hard to get her life back on track. When she felt ready, she contacted a ‘match maker’ with the hopes of being introduced to a man who she could marry and return to England with. A good man, one that would help any scandal she left behind when she ran away be forgotten.
That man is Jonathon, the Duke of Strathmore. He agreed to meet Isabella, more from curiosity about the woman that caused such a scandal back home than anything. He had no real intention of offering to marry her. He never believed that he could find her so intriguing and before long he decides he still doesn’t want to marry, but would happily set her up in London as his mistress.
Isabella only wants marriage, and being a very good card player, the winnings of such being the reason that she has been able to gain back enough money to live comfortably and hire a match maker with, she offers the Duke a wager. If she wins the game he will marry her, if he wins the game she will be his mistress. Either way he is happy because he ends up with her in his life and in his bed, so he agrees to the wager.
You will have to read the book to find out who wins! The story from that first introduction is all about their relationship, how it develops, and we find out if Jonathon can break down the barriers around Isabella’s heart formed ever since her former lover made her lose faith in all men, and in love itself.
I very much enjoyed the story, and even though Isabella believes she doesn’t love and can’t love the Duke, she fully appreciates that she is very much in lust with him. Their love making is passionately hot, and the writer portrays it perfectly without needing to be too specific and without writing with the sole intention of shocking the reader. I enjoyed reading how the couple both think they aren’t falling in love with each other, how they try to fight it, but how inevitably they realise that they have indeed fallen, and fallen hard. BUT will either of them believe and trust in the other, and will they have a happily ever after. And what of the scandal that Isabella left behind, will she ever be able to live it down, despite being on the arm of the powerful, handsome Duke?
I fully recommend this book, it’s an emotive read, with scenes full of happiness, some sadness, and a lot of passionate moments. There is even a nice sub plot during their journey back to England, involving crime onboard ship, and trying to discover the culprit. Nothing wrong with a little suspense and mystery alongside a great love story. The whole book was a thoroughly enjoyable one.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.