This is by far Ms. Malvey's best book yet. The hero and heroine are well matched for spirit and wits. I couldn't put it down or stop laughing!
Royce van Cleef, Earl of Tewkbury, if extremely gifted. He is handsome, charming, and very, very lucky....at least at games of chance. Blissfully unattached he observes his friends' awkward attempts to woo their beloveds with great amuzement. He compares winning a mate to a fox hunt and advised studied observation as the obvious tactic for a successful campaign.
Is it any wonder that his friends want to take him down a peg. Knowing their cocky friend can't resist a sure thing they propose a wager. Royce must woo and win a woman of their chosing using his own technique. Royce hadn't considered marriage but he must produce an heir sooner or later, so he gamely accepts. He is wise enough to stipulate that the lady of choice must meet his criteria for an acceptable partner. He is greatly relieved that the woman they choose is Lady Laurel Simmons. She is lovely and well suited to his title. There is just one catch.
Lady Laurel has no use for men whatsoever. She'd been jilted once in favor of a minor inheritance and is determined never to risk her heart again. Neither the friends nor Laurel had counted on Royce's considerable charm. When it appears he is winning all too easily, his friends up the ante by "accidentally" tiping Laurel's best friend off to the wager.
Horrified at being duped a second time Laurel doesn't get mad, she gets even! Laurel spreads the word about the wager throughout the ton, omitting the name of the lady involved. Poor Royce finds himself inundated with hopeful debutants. In fact everyone seems to view him as the catch of the season. Everyone but the one he wants.
The moves and counter moves are hilarious, until Royce realizes that this is no longer a game. All to late he finds that he has more to lose than a simple wager. If he doesn't find a way to make amends he will lose the only woman he has ever loved. Now Royce must persue Laurel in ernest. But can he ever regain her trust?
Complications include the mechanizations of Royce's mother who opposes the match, the return of Laurel's faithless fiance', and a scorned debutante bent on revenge. The story concludes in a dramatic manner as befits this amusing tale.
Ms. Malvey gets better and better. I highly recommend this delightful Regency romp.
Leslie Tramposch ~ UReviewIT