I gave a rave review to Scandalous Proposal by this author but was very, very disappointed with Wicked Wager. I'm not sure I should not give it two stars having initially decided on three.
The problem for me was that this book was just simply sloppy and at times I struggled to keep my attention on it.
For a start, the names of the main characters were completely inappropriate for the time and place setting. Men named Madison, Lane, Bayard ???? Females named Hetty and Jenna? At times I had the feeling of being in a time and space warp and that they were escapees from something set in the ante bellum South when Jenna insists on calling her late husband's brothers "Cousin Lane" and "Cousin Bayard".
There were time-line inaccuraces that, unfortunately, annoyed me and thus devalued the story. For example, the author on the last page speaks of 25 June being the anniversary of Waterloo. Well, it's 18 June for Waterloo! Our heroine, Jenna, talks of nursing her husband for two weeks after the battle before he sadly dies yet before Christmas she is dancing at balls. Really? Surely not! And, at one point she talks about her difficulties in the 8 months since Waterloo and it's not even December yet! What???
Then, in an effort to make the story have some interest, the author turns it into a murder mystery. Someone takes a pot shot at our heroine. The author lets our hero, Viscount Nelthorpe find a "bullet casing" from the "rifle bullet" in a nearby tree. By this time, I was getting really irritated. Bullets with casings were really a mid 19th century development. All pistols, muskets and rifles of the time were loaded with ball, patch and powder.
What we have here is a shallow, ill-developed story of a rake-ish nobleman who became a soldier who returns to London and chases Jenna - a lady he tried to seduce years before. Before this story ends, she has seduced him pretty comprehensively in a scene without a frisson of sexual magic so perfunctorily is it written. (Don't forget Jenna is a widow of about 3 months and only several weeks post-miscarriage - it just doesn't add up, does it?)
Jenna is not particularly likeable and I didn't find Tony, Viscount Nelthorpe exciting either. Both were two dimensional and caught up in a boring story where no one stood out. Indeed, at first I thought Col Madison Vernier would be interesting but then he turns into a cad in the course of a short conversation. Sorry, but the quality of the author's prose does not sparkle (it veers from stilted to silly - using 'twas to indicate this is an historical novel!!).
I can't rcommend this and have changed my mind and am going gack to give it two stars. I also think I must re-read Scandalous Proposal to see what went wrong for this author.