Once Upon a Wager by Julie LeMense with Excerpt

Book Review:

A rather compelling love story of a young, impressionable girl and an honorable, dashing gentleman, Once Upon A Wager has a creatively woven plot that ensnares the imagination with just enough spice to make the reader second-guess the outcome.

Written with a well-paced narration, the story speeds and slows in all the right places, grabbing  the reader’s attention and keeping it focused throughout.

Annabelle is boh delightfully innocent and blessed with an overwhelming amount of curiosity which has  landed her in more trouble than she could imagine. Alec had his work cut out for him in taming such a passionate woman.

With an interesting infusion of meddling side characters , this novel is one complete package for historical romance enthusiasts and also for those who adore suspense, drama, and intrigue.



Once Upon a Wager by Julie LeMense with Excerpt

Title: Once Upon a Wager
Author: Julie LeMense
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Crimson Romance
Source: Author
Pages: 262
Rated: five-stars
Heat: One FlameOne FlameOne Flame

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When Lord Alec Carstairs returns from the Peninsular Wars, hailed as a hero in the midst of the London Season, only Annabelle Layton knows the sort of man that he really is, that the honor everyone praises is illusory.

They'd been close friends once, before a passionate kiss changed everything. But if she'd secretly loved him, those feelings had died one bright summer morning, when a reckless wager left Annabelle with terrifying injuries. Alec had abandoned her without a backwards glance.

Hardly the actions of a hero.

But Alec has never forgotten her, despite his vow to stay away. There is more to that long-ago day than Annabelle knows, and shocking lies have distorted the past. Can he uncover its painful truths, and still keep his distance from the stunning beauty? Can he deny his forbidden desire, even as it flares again between them, hotter than ever?

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


Just as evening fell, Alec walked up the crushed stone drive to Astley Castle. Despite its
rather grandiose name, it was more accurately a fortified manor house, although it did have a
moat. Briefly the home of Lady Jane Grey, England’s unfortunate Nine Days Queen, it had
also served as a garrison for Cromwell’s forces during the Civil War before passing into the
Layton family. Tonight, however, the house gave no hint of its troubled history. Japanese
lanterns were strung, not only in the trees leading up the drive, but also in those surrounding
the house, and the effect was magical. In the early dusk, a gentle light bathed the grounds,
softening the lines of the old home, coloring it with pale pinks and darker purples. Alec heard
strains of music and conversation. In fact, it appeared to be a remarkably conventional party,
which was something of a surprise. Surely, circus animals were lurking somewhere.The oversized front door was open to the evening air, and dozens of people were assembled
in the Great Hall, which was brightly lit with wall lanterns. Chandeliers decked with wax
candles flickered high above as Gareth’s parents received their guests. Sir Frederick, who
often panicked in crowds, was hiding his misgivings well, and Lady Layton was radiant
beside him. Gareth stood next to her, dressed in a colorful approximation of evening attire,
but he seemed distracted. His eyes were darting the crowd and looking for someone. A
footman with the champagne tray, no doubt. Alec did not see Annabelle.But then familiar, melodious laughter washed over him, and he turned. A willowy, honeytressed
blonde stood at the center of a crowd of adoring men. Her face was hidden from view,
but her gown—the color of moonlight—caressed her curves like a lover. Alec braced himself,
every nerve taut. As if sensing his presence, she looked over her shoulder and smiled.God in Heaven, he should never have come here tonight.Annabelle had been only four years old the first time he saw her. He’d joined his mother on a
neighborly visit to Astley Castle, and the little girl had utterly charmed him, struggling to sit
still while Lady Layton served tea to her guests. Delicate, soft, and pink, like a rosy-cheeked
doll, she’d roused all his protective instincts before kicking him in the shins to gain his

If only he could see the girl she’d once been in the woman standing before him. Even two
years ago, there had been hints of her, hiding in the body of a goddess. But there was nothing
childlike about Annabelle now. She was spectacularly lovely, with arched brows, high
cheekbones, and cornflower blue eyes that took his breath away.

Excusing herself from her admirers, she walked toward him with a slow smile. Then again,
walking was not the right word. Swaying was the better choice, and all he could do was stand
there, heart slamming in his chest as she approached, the gossamer silk gown caressing her
curves. Were it dampened—as was the fashion with London’s faster set—it would be almost
transparent. Just like that morning when she had gone swimming in the fountain, casting a
spell over him like a sorceress.

About Julie LeMense

A Georgetown University graduate with a degree in English Literature, I have been a Regency romance addict since I read my first deliciously bad Barbara Cartland novel.
These days, I prefer the complex characterizations and plotting of Julie Anne Long, Sherry Thomas and Meredith Duran.

A member of the Romance Writers Association of America, I am
currently working on my next two novels, as the ghosts who live in my haunted, gilded ageera home try to sneak their way into my stories.

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