The Blackwaters are back again in this follow-up to Rushed to the Altar, the first in the Blackwater Bride trilogy. This time around, the penniless Honorable Sebastian Sullivan must find a disreputable woman to marry and bring into the family so that he can inherit a share of his uncle's vast fortune. However, the formerly naïve Sebastian is still dealing with his heartache from three years ago, when the woman he loved betrayed and devastated him. He had tried to carry on with his life over the course of those years, but he was really just existing and not living. Gradually, he started to come back to himself only Lady Serena Carmichael has come back to town. Sebastian must find out her reasons for denying her love for him in order to heal and move on from the pain she inflicted upon him years ago. Yet every time Sebastian longs to hate her, he finds that he can't stop thinking about her, and he can't seem to completely cut his love of her off! Will he be able to solve the mystery of Serena's rejection of him and get that second chance that he longs for, or will Serena not gamble on chance with him?
Lady Serena Carmichael had no choice but to hurt her lover, the Honorable Sebastian Sullivan, because her stepfather, General Sir George Heyward, had instructed her to do so. The general was running a crooked gambling house and felt he needed to flee to greener pastures to procure more money. As Lady Serena is destitute because of her stepfather's flitting away of her mother's inheritance as well as her own, she really has no choice but to follow him. During their years abroad with her stepfather helping to run gambling houses, Serena learns some hard truths about this man and what he is capable of doing. Having been jerked into the harsh world that has now become her reality, Serena learns to take care of herself. Vowing to stay with the general until she has skimmed enough monies to take care of herself, she is constantly on her guard to any of his nefarious plans whether they include her or the young, rich innocent, Abigail, that he has lined up to become his next wife! Serena has learned that it is best to be patient when seeking retribution and that revenge really is a dish best served cold! Serena relies upon herself and since she has had something essential to her peace of mind forcefully removed from her, it will be a while before she can truly give herself to Sebastian. Will she find that Sebastian can truly heal her, or will the obstacles in their way prove to be insurmountable?
A Wedding Wager is a crafty novel full of machinations by various characters. It is by no means a quick read. There is a lot going on in A Wedding Wager, sometimes too much. I found the secondary characters to be a bit distracting from the overall romance between the two protagonists, but I enjoyed the manipulations and maneuvering between the protagonists and the antagonist. Yet, it still wasn't enough to hold my attention. In A Wedding Wager, it didn't make a lot of sense that the general could return to the scene of one of his crimes and NOT A SINGLE PERSON who caused him to flee before was there waiting to deal out any form of justice.
Lady Serena seemed to be a very strong character who was a bit overconfident in her dealings, and she seemed guarded with her thoughts and explanations. She didn't always want to give reasons for things as she had learned to depend on herself since she was virtually isolated over the years. Because of her lack of openness with Sebastian, problems arose between them. A Wedding Wager made Serena seem too controlling and not very trusting especially when trying to protect Abigail from her stepfather. Serena seemed to believe that Abigail's father wouldn't save his daughter unless Serena did it first.
Sebastian had a network of support in his family, but he was a bit slow on the uptake. A Wedding Wager had Sebastian figuring out that he could gamble--wager if you will--on his uncle believing that Serena will fit the conditions of his uncle's Will in order for Sebastian to satisfy his part in gaining the inheritance. But what frustrated this reader, was that it took him so long to piece that together! Everyone else knew that as "faro's daughter" Serena wasn't exactly an upstanding lady, but for some reason Sebastian could NOT add that up until later in the story.
There seemed to be a lot of unnecessary filler in A Wedding Wager which just bogged the story down for me. It was an intriguing premise, but I was looking for a faster read with more action and adventure. Upon reaching the ending of the book, I kept thinking that Serena seemed to personify the typical hero role while Sebastian was more like the heroine, and I really would have liked him to have had some purpose in his life other than just being a typical aristocrat! Considering his lack of funds, one would expect him to try and do something meaningful with his life, yet that never seemed to materialize. It should also be noted that there were a couple of minor editing errors and that the back synopsis incorrectly identified the heroine of A Wedding Wager.
Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed