Christi Caldwell is a new author to me, and “The Rogue’s Wager” is the first book in the “Sinful Brides” Series, so it was the perfect book as my introduction to her writing. This is a Regency romance, but it differentiates itself by having a nice mix of characters from a variety of levels on the social ladder.
This one starts off with a bang. Literally. I don’t want to give away who is banging whom, but I just had to write that sentence. It made my husband laugh; sue me! Robert, a future Duke, whose heart has been broken, is being coerced into marriage by his father who has run into some money problems. Helena is the bastard daughter of a different Duke, and has spent most of her life keeping the books at a not-quite-reputable club. Her overbearing brother has kept her hidden away, but a chance meeting will throw her life off the course she had originally intended.
The story drew me in immediately, and I sympathized particularly with the heroine. Any smart chick that won’t take crap from anyone but still has a heart, is totally my kind of person. (Veronica Mars is my favorite television heroine of all time!) Her past and situation very clearly make her the person she is, and all her interactions flow seamlessly. I wish there had been a fish-out-of-water scene or two when she first arrives in society, but that is my own particular fave trope, and perhaps the author wanted to make sure we didn’t laugh at Helena or her situation. I also would have liked to see more of the comeuppance for our villain(s). Revenge is fun to read. The love scenes, while timed well, were on the lower end of the hotness thermometer for me, but there was nothing wrong with them at all.
I think the best thing about this book is the characters. I felt as if I got to know both the hero and heroine enough to really root for their relationship. The build felt real, not rushed, which made the payoff more satisfying. Ms. Caldwell had me believing that these characters truly needed each other and loved who the other person really was, not just a quick and pretty snapshot of a person.
The Bottom Line-
I will be reading more of Ms. Caldwell’s books and am happy to take recommendations on which series I should start first. As for this series, I am excited to read the next story, especially with the hero that has been identified. If you like Regency, pick this one up. A super-strong 4 stars!