I used to LOVE Jane Feather books, and have been disappointed for the last several years. However, I felt that this book was an attempt to get back the old glory. It reminded me of a cross between "Virtue" (one of my all-time favorites) and "A Valentine Wedding." Unfortunately, that doesn't add up to a great book.
Sebastian Sullivan and Lady Serena CARMICHAEL (more on that later) enjoyed a romance three years ago, but Serena broke Seb's heart at the command of her stepfather and left town. Now she and nefarious stepfather are back, but Serena is determined to foil his plots, even at the expense of her own true love.
What's strange is, the biggest flaws of this book are pointed out in the narrative. Seb is constantly asking Serena why SHE has to be responsible for ingenue Abigail, and if she feels responsible, why can't she just tell Abigail's dad what her stepfather is up to? (Abigail's father later asks this same question.) And it all boils down to...because Serena wants to. So why Sebastian thinks she'll be a good marriage partner is beyond me.
And, why didn't Sebastian just tell Abigail's father what was going on? Who cared if Serena felt betrayed by him, or owned by him, or whatever. Wasn't Abigail's safety more important?
A language nitpick: I got REAL tired of "faro's daughter." Yes, we understand that Serena is a gambler and therefore outside the pale of good society (or something), but seeing this phrase over and over got irritating.
Finally, back to Serena's name: I love how all these other reviewers are referring to her as "Serena Grantley" because that's what it says on the back of the book...but her name was Serena Carmichael throughout the whole book. So, kudos to the publisher...you screwed up your ad copy. Second, did any of the other reviewers actually READ the book, or just do their review from the back cover? Or do you just not pay attention to little details like the characters names? Whatever.
EDIT: Oh yeah, and WHAT was the "Wedding Wager"? Was it just that Sebastian was betting his future happiness on Serena's whims? That would be a gamble indeed.
BOTTOM LINE: Better than many recent Jane Feather books, but not up to "V series" standards.