It took a really long time for me to warm up to some of the leads in this story, there are four of them. So long that by time I liked them the book had only a few chapters left.
Heroine Carolyn Wynn is a rather straight laced widow, or so it seems. She has heard about the juvenile bet that best friends Nicholas Manning, the Duke of Rothay and Derek Drake the Earl of Manderville have wagered. Each believes they are the better lover and since Carolyn had a terrible marriage and wants to know about passion she has decided to put herself into the role of judge between the two men. She wants to be discreet though. Here is where her logic flies out the window. Boys will be boys and furthermore there are prying eyes all about the ton but she never thinks through these small trifles, only gets their word that they won't tell.
Nicholas and Derek agree to the wager very quickly. It really had me wondering about this trio, namely what kind of friends take turns with a woman and what kind of woman wants to be passed off and talked about by two men. If Carolyn wanted to taste passion, why not approach one of them privately? She knows both are skilled lovers from ton gossip. Still she agrees to this infantile wager amongst bragging competative men and agrees to first sample Nicholas's lovemaking for a week. Then she will go to Derek's bed.
She has a marvelous time with Nicholas and opens up about her marriage and unthaws her icy reserved self. There are moments that electrify her but also she cannot forget that she has promised to engage in this same bed sport as soon as she is finished with Nicholas. She soon regrets this decision.
Derek is actually in love with someone else, a sweet girl named Annabel and I wish the author had focused a little more on their story. Annabel has loved Derek for a long time but unfortunately he was afraid of commitment. When Annabel saw Derek with another woman after they shared a steamy kiss, her heart was broken. Now she is engaged to a solid, decent nobleman and Derek is going crazy thinking that she is the only one he will ever love. Somehow he must find a way to convince her that they are meant to be together. Whereas Nicholas and Carolyn's romance is fueled by lovemaking, Derek and Annabel's is fueled by deep and long abiding feelings of love. They were a charming couple. Overall I give this novel three stars. The beginning while original never captured me because of the ridiculous bet, but the lovely story of Annabel and Derek was quite engaging.