Author: Ava March
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages/Word Count: 275 Pages
At a Glance: Another sexy and romantic and emotionally satisfying read from Ava March.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: London, 1822
You never forget your first love, but is a second chance worth the gamble?
Anthony, Viscount Rawling, knows exactly what he wants in life and he isn’t above having a look about London for it. When he spots recently widowed Gabriel Tilden at a ton function, he thinks he might have found love…again.
Gabriel is as gorgeous and reserved as he was when he broke Anthony’s heart seven years ago. But they were only adolescents then…surely Anthony won’t hold the incident against him. And especially not when the attraction between them is stronger than ever.
Gabriel came to London in search of distraction, and a teasing Anthony is impossible to resist. As Anthony introduces Gabriel to the pleasures that can be found in the city—and in his bedchamber—their bond deepens into something more. Yet both men are hiding secrets that could pull them apart forever…
Review: Author Ava March writes lust and romance so well, and stays true to her own special brand of Regency Era erotica in Viscount’s Wager, book three in the Gambling on Love series. While it’s not strictly necessary to read the first two books in the series before reading this one, I loved both All in with the Duke and Sharp Love (especially Sharp Love) enough to recommend them, if for nothing else than to catch up on the characters who make their appearances in Anthony and Gabriel’s story.
From the outset, the author goes right for the emotional connection between reader and characters, as we see two teenage boys tentatively explore the possibilities of a young and forbidden love with a first kiss, only to watch the risk they take become all for naught when Gabriel’s fear and insecurities lead him into the arms of a woman he doesn’t love and a marriage to the woman that neither of them wanted—a scenario that, sadly, was more likely to happen than not in the 19th century.
Years later this novel evolves from its bittersweet beginning to a story of second chances, when Gabriel (now a widower) and Anthony meet again in London. We see Anthony reflect upon the heartbreak he felt at being treated so callously, as that insight is observed through both distance and a more mature and sophisticated eye, knowing the reality that there often was no happy ending for gay men at this time. Circumstance affords the opportunity for the two men to rekindle their acquaintance and, eventually, for Gabriel to finally admit to and explore the attraction he’s harbored for Anthony, even over the long seven years of his marriage.
These two men don’t float easily along into their romance, though. They have obstacles to overcome brought on by secrets and lies, both outright lies and ones by omission, and they must confront a danger brought to their doorstep due to Gabriel’s own guilt and self-loathing. We watch Gabriel struggle with a push me-pull you yearning for Anthony—one that begins to present as his using Anthony solely for sex, and Anthony allowing it because he’s willing to take as much or as little as Gabriel is able to give. As always, however, there is a payoff to the emotional roller coaster we gladly ride, knowing that our persistence will be rewarded in the end when we see love win against the odds.
Ava March is a connoisseur of erotic historical romance. Her formula is laced with the restraint of the laws and social underpinnings of the time, and I’ve yet to find an instance where it hasn’t worked for me. She writes characters we root for with the knowledge that a happy ending befitting the time period won’t always be traditional but will be believable, and for Anthony and Gabriel it’s no different. They discover they have allies, people who become their inner circle of friends, they themselves sharing the same secret, which adds to the romance of her stories.
Viscount’s Wager ends as though it’s a wrap up to this series. We see all three of the couples settled and happy, and this alone makes Ava March, as always, a go-to author for me when I’m ready to escape into a sexy and romantic and emotionally satisfying read.
You can buy Vicount’s Wager here: