A Gentleman’s Wager is about the pains and pleasures of the regency period, set in the countryside during the winter season. The three main characters are: Bella, the flamboyant and exciting country lady; Lucerne, the bright young city landowner who refurbishes his country estate; and Vaughan, the dark and dangerous Marquis. Bella and Vaughan both desire Lucerne, doing their best to seduce him away from the other’s affections.
This book is, in a word, brilliant. It totally captivated me. A great example of what erotica should be – elegant yet depraved and utterly, deliciously morish. I deeply enjoyed the characters, all maintaining their unique personalities throughout and developing as well, which I was delighted with. The dialogue was wonderful and not too Jane Austin yet convincingly of the period. And, oh, the sex scenes was perfect. Some detailed, some blurred, it was masterful the way Madelynne Ellis knew which to use when, not one being cringe-worthy.
Unfortunately, the plot was a little too watery and cliché for me to appreciate. As told in the title, the plot device is a bet between two men – a minor character Charles Aubrey and the wicked Vaughan – who wager on Vaughan’s ability to bed Louisa (Bella’s prudish best friend) and Bella. Countless books and movies have used this, and I was disappointed when I came to it but happily it didn’t detract to much pleasure from the rest of the novel.
There were also a few place that could have done with a little more research, such as what was eaten during the regency era. Sadly, Madelynne Ellis skims over most meals which is regrettable, as it could have enhanced the experience.
Overall, as I said, brilliant. If only the plot had more care, it would have reached five-stars. I have high hopes for Ellis’ sequel, Phantasmagoria and I will be on the look out for more works from this author. I give this book 4 out of 5.