In short, the hero in this story decided to mistrust the heroine based on his family history and his fear of being betrayed. Hero was raised by his uncle who was engaged to the heroines aunt. Distrust#2: Heroines aunt jilted the uncle because the uncle wouldnt promise to give up his mistress. Distrust #3: hero sees the heroine saying goodbye to a neighbor (OM) going off to the army. Since hero has come to think of the h as his he is angry and vows to stop loving her even though hes going to marry her one day. So heroine doesnt want to marry the hero (even though she has always loved him since girlhood) since hes basically told her he doesnt love her and never will. The heros mistress is the villain of the story. Things dont go as planned since the hero does fall in love with his wife and breaks it off completely with the evil mistress at the two-month mark. The H/h are enjoying a happy marriage, the heros uncle and the heroines aunt mend their relationship but the wager and the heros mistress hang over the narrative. I never really warmed up to the crazy with love/hate hero or the heroine whom everyone loved.
What they don't know, however, is that Lucien has been in love with Clara for as long as he can remember. After the scandalous deaths of his parents by murder/suicide, Lucien managed to hang onto his sanity in the years that followed because he believed Clara loved him. And so the nickname was attached to Lady Clara as a private joke between Lucien, his friends, his mistress...and a good portion of the ton. "The best-laid plans of men for their peahens often go awry" As all good romance novels go, the hero, despite himself, falls deeply in love with the heroine...and she with him. Because of Clara, Lucien's frequent dark moods, fits of rage and jealousy, and mistrust of all things female eventually give way to love, happiness and contentment. "Hell hath no fury like a mistress scorned" This is what puts Dark Wager on the keeper's shelf... He intended to get married and continue keeping his mistress of three years; however, once he started sleeping with Clara, he had no desire to continue his relationship with Pamela and told her so. Lucien warned Pamela to leave Clara and him alone...or else! Hell-bent on destroying Lucien and Clara's marriage, the drawing she publishes for the ton and a special drawing she gives to Clara in private make for heart-wrenching scenes that you won't soon forget. Lucien groveled well, Clara forgave him for his wrongdoings and they lived happily ever after - or at least long enough to play secondary characters in the next book, Lady Wager.
This book had shades of Dark Angel / Lord Carew's Bride but this heroine chooses the evil, weak man. I especially hated how the hero is all enraged at heroine's aunt for daring to break up with his uncle after finding the guy CHEATING a second time during their engagement after promising fidelity, first kissing his mistress rather than a more impersonal goodbye, and then after convincing the aunt that he was really done and would never cheat again, she sees him leaving his mistresses' house in the morning after spending the night...which he tries to explain happened because it was habit!!!! Ridiculous all around, even the side couples were gross, author casually showing this poor woman Bella, waiting for her jealous science minded fiancée Wulf who doesn't let her talk to another man, to be ready make the marriage commitment, while he carries on openly with his mistress Yvette (but of course doesn't tell Bella he's cheating on her and give her a choice) while he keeps Bella imprisoned on a shelf and pretends to love her. The hero was such a pig I didn't even care about the stupid bet he made and how even after he supposedly loved heroine he didn't call it off for months.
While she curtsies to him, he pushes her over the balcony and she ends up head first into the giant tuba of the orchestra below, bloomers and flailing, skinny chicken legs in full view of the now hysterically laughing audience. He sometimes wanders off to PT Barnum where he gazes with melancholy at his former mistress' skinny chicken legs still frantically flailing away trying to disengage from the rusty tuba.
The letter was from the man who had sold me the book, in it he talks about his wife Kathleen. He ended the letter with saying that he hoped that I enjoyed the book as much as his wife had as it was one of her favorites. Lady Clara (h) had known all of her life that she was going to marry Lucien (H), their parents had arranged it from the time she was born. Lucien had always known that Clara was his and nothing that has happened in the past was going to change that.
This book clearly implicates that cheating is perfectly normal and acceptable for men and that if the women find out and don't learn to forgive and start trusting them again that they're giving up the best thing that's ever happened to them and that they'll late regret not taking back a cheater. 11 yrs ago Lucien's uncle Robby, proposed to Anna, Clara's aunt. Anna caught him kissing his mistress goodbye rather than him simply telling her I'm in love, I'm getting married, and will be faithful to my wife. When he told her she had to forgive him, trust him once again or they had no marriage (after he just slept with his mistress out of "habit") she broke off the engagement and went on to marry someone else. Yet in the whole book Lucien blamed her for his uncle's pain. Lucien's friend, Wulf has been engaged to Bella for four years and she still hasn't given up on him setting a date. Yet this douchebag has a mistress Yvette on his lap with his friends around (that know he's engaged) yet joke internally about how the sex is between them and then comparing her to Bella who they keep joking about when he's gonna marry her! Why is she never as beautiful and pretty as a man's mistress? He planned to keep his mistress, told Clara straight up he didn't trust her but would try to before they married and wouldn't give her his heart when she gave hers to him. He wanted to push it under the rug because he had a change of heart and let the past stay in the past when he punished her throughout the book when he couldn't do the same.
Many of the twists and turns of plot in Dark Wager were refreshingly orignal. While Clara, the heroine, is repeatedly described as charming, the reader never understands what it is about her that makes others, inlcuding members of the ton, rave about her. Not a very nice person.His love for Clara is excessively needy, and seems to have its origins in a difficult childhood and unresolved mental health 'issues.' His penchant for low company (gaming hells, promiscuis women, and a mistress whom he treats poorly) makes the reader slow to realize that he and his fellow night crawlers are among the cream of the English aristocracy.
We're told over and over, instead of shown, that she's hugely popular among other men, but she's not beautiful. The hero wonders whats so special about her, why he's so obsessed with her when she's not even beautiful like his mistress. You still don't know the heroine as a person when you're done with the book.
I have read this author once before and I remember I also highly rated that book.
When I was a senior in high school, everyone in my graduating class was asked to fill out a questionnaire supposing where we'd be in ten years' time, what we'd be doing and what our accomplishments would be. I'm writing books that I love and having the time of my life doing it, and that's an accomplishment that this former high school senior is perfectly content with.