My Once and Future Duke: The Wagers of Sin #1 by Caroline Linden

My Once and Future Duke: The Wagers of Sin #1 by Caroline Linden

Caroline Linden returns with a new series, The Wagers of Sin, and the first title brings a secondary character (Duke of Ware) forward in this title, as he’s making a scene to teach his younger brother a lesson.

My Once and Future Duke

When introduced to Sophie, life as she knew it is changing, dramatically. Granddaughter of a Viscount, she is being left at a school as he wants nothing to do with her, but family obligations require him, as her guardian, to see to her. Having spent all of her life to this point with her parents and hearing only negative things about her father’s family after his marriage for love to the French opera singer, she’s seeing the worst of her fears come to light in her grandfather’s anger, brusque nature and dismissive treatment. The school did, however, bring her two friends who hold her secrets closely, support one another, and meet regularly for tea and catching up. In fact, it was one of her friend’s connections that found her a position as a companion right out of school, and a small bequest from that lady allowed her to set her plan for self-support and independence in action. Now, some 12 or 15 years later, Sophie is making her living from gambling: carefully calculating odds, using her skills to quietly build toward a nest egg that will allow her an annuity or an enticing dowry.

Jack, Duke of Ware inherited the title at just twenty-four, and felt the weight of expectation, his mother’s censure and his brother Phillip’s intractability since the beginning. Measured, near anti-social, and wholly consumed with the responsibilities and requirements of his position, yet another debt that Phillip incurred and can’t pay while gambling at Vega’s, a private club known for member’s discretion and the surety of debt repayment. Since Jack won’t allow the censure or talk, he pays off Phillip’s debt, and demands he not return to gamble. But, Phillip isn’t about to be told, and his fascination with Sophie brings him back – demanding she pay attention to him and gamble against him. Finding Phillip satisfactory as a friend, but wholly unsuited as more, including a gambler with his reckless disregard of skill and odds, no one is more shocked (or frankly, threatened) by Ware’s outrageous demand: a five thousand pound wager if she wins, a week with Ware should she lose. Of course, shock, anger and the little devil on her shoulder tweak her into taking the bet, and soon she is being whisked out of the club with the Duke, and driven out of London with nary a word.

Oh these two are lovely! Ware’s first “love” used and abused him badly, so he’s convinced that while marriage is necessary, his will be one well-made with all thoughts to convention and a proper Duchess, not entertaining thoughts of love. Sophie has kept her ties to the Makepeace name a secret: her parents married for love, but she’s hoping for esteem, stability and security: she wants to marry but those concerns come first. She’s never thought of herself as desirable to a Duke or other member of the ton, in fact a solid middle-class opportunity would suit her perfectly. But the chemistry between them sparks something between them: soon Jack is seeing the world through her eyes: her quick wit, her intelligence and her pointed questions all have him reeling. More importantly, he’s unable to not wonder about her, think about her. Together, the two are electric, and moments between them shine until the return to London with a vow to never see one another again.

Sure enough, not a full week has passed before the temptation is too great: neither was happy alone, and while Sophie doesn’t believe that this affair will lead to more than her broken heart, the comfort, excitement and enjoyment in her time with Jack (and his with her) have them spending more time together. Surely when Sophie reveals (to one of her best friends) her love for him, and his meddling mother again tries to bend him to her will, the heartbreak is eminent…..

A wonderful start to a new series, with a lovely tease for the next title that features one of Sophie’s best friends. Love, obligation, choices and family lost and found all play in nicely with a moment where Sophie’s reactions come solely from her hurt and heartbreak, nearly tearing the two apart forevermore. The growth of Ware from the tamped-down unemotional man wholly consumed with his responsibilities and title to his emotional awakening and recognition of the need for balance (and Sophie) in his life is wonderful, even when he missteps, his willingness to take a chance, seek advice and ignore his pleading and meddlesome mother are brilliantly shown and made this a read in one sitting title that has me anxious for the next.

My Once and Future Duke: The Wagers of Sin #1 by Caroline Linden

Title: My Once and Future Duke
Author: Caroline Linden
Series: The Wagers of Sin #1
Genre: Historical Romance, Setting: Britain, Victorian
Published by: Avon
ISBN: 0062672924
Published on: 27 February, 2018
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 384
Rated: four-stars
Heat: One FlameOne FlameOne Flame

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What happens at the infamous Vega Club . . .

Sophie Campbell is determined to be mistress of her own fate. Surviving on her skill at cards, she never risks what she can’t afford to lose. Yet when the Duke of Ware proposes a scandalous wager that’s too extravagant to refuse, she can’t resist. If she wins, she’ll get five thousand pounds, enough to secure her independence forever.

Stays at the Vega Club . . .

Jack Lindeville, Duke of Ware, tells himself he’s at the Vega Club merely to save his reckless brother from losing everything, but he knows it’s a lie. He can’t keep his eyes off Sophie, and to get her he breaks his ironclad rule against gambling. If he wins, he wants her—for a week.

Until now.

A week with Jack could ruin what’s left of Sophie’s reputation. It might even cost her her heart. But when it comes to love, all bets are off . . .

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

 

About Caroline Linden

Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer software before turning to writing fiction. Ten years, twelve books, two Red Sox championships, and one dog later, she has never been happier with her decision. Her books have won the NEC Reader’s Choice Beanpot Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA’s RITA Award. Since she never won any prizes in math, she takes this as a sign that her decision was also a smart one.

 

 

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