Lord Robert Dennington, the Marquess of Westfield, has long reveled in the freedom afforded him as the ducal heir. He knows he must someday do right by the Somerset line, but he’s in no hurry to give up his carefree existence.
Helena Banbury is a bookkeeper in a gentleman’s gambling club, adept at analyzing numbers and accounts but helpless for lack of influence. She’s never belonged among the nobility on the gaming hell floors, but neither does she feel completely herself among the men who run the Hell and Sin Club, despite the fact that they are family. The once-illiterate girl from the streets wants more than the gilded walls her protective cage can offer.
When Robert mistakenly enters her chambers one night, Helena is forced out of her predictable life and thrust into the glittering world of Society. Will the charms of the marquess prove more perilous than any danger she ever knew on the streets?
In between doses of YA I always like to add a bit of new adult or adult stories and romances because I am a sucker for happy endings and need to spice up my life. Feel-good plots are always my thing, which is why I’m usually drawn to romances in literature. When I saw that The Rogue’s Wager was on Netgalley, I was taking a break from YA and am super glad I picked this one up! It’s a fairly quick read – as Caldwell’s other books – and delivers on the predictability and fuzzy feelings that I know I’m going to get when reading historical romances.
This book centers around Helena, who is the accountant for a gentleman’s gaming hell and has been living in a sheltered life for most of her adult years. She was raised in the streets as a child, and has known suffering. That is also one of the reasons why her “brothers” – the men who are like family to her – strive to take of her and keep her in that gilded cage. All that is different when she meets the Marquess of Westfield.
“Oh she’d had purpose in her role, a role she’d enjoyed. But no one had listened to her. Not truly. Her brothers had been so bent on protecting her from Diggory, and the success of the Hell, that they’d stifled her voice… and in that, her happiness.”
Cue attraction at first sight scenes and quick to form attachments! I liked how unique this blurb was with regard to the characters – especially Helena. I’m not too sure how conventional her role in a gaming hell is in actual history, but it does seem rather unrealistic and unlikely. However, I do enjoy the fun and giggles it provides for a reader who is looking for a book to satisfy their whims. Helena is actually the bastard daughter of a Duke in society whose mistress mother was cast off years ago. In the book, however, she evidently finds out that her biological father does want her and is willing to sponsor a season for her. Although initially she denies her place in such a glamorous world, subconsciously she is longing to discover the world outside the gaming hells.
“She’d long to be heard, a woman with worthy thoughts and opinions, opinions that were listened to and, through that, validated. She’s wanted to be seen as a capable women, wholly trusted with responsibilities beyond her ledgers.”
Helena was a rather naive character who really learns throughout the story. I think one thing that rather bothered me was her contradictory actions and indecisiveness. One page she was ready to get out of the gaming hell, and the next she absolutely refuses to go out to society. It was tiresome and the repetition that the author writes regarding Helena’s feelings didn’t help at all. However, Caldwell did this in previous books (which I’ve picked up on Amazon for a fun time) and so as a reader I’m pretty used to it. The writing isn’t perfect, but the author does deliver a satisfying story.
In the ton, Helena is treated with major disdain as she has a bastard background. To help her along the way, however, is Lord Robert. I honestly don’t remember much about his character except for the fact that he was predictable and a bit stagnant. He treated Helena in a different way than her brothers did, allowing her to discover the opportunities that she has outside of the confines of the gaming hell.
“For who could have ever believed that polite Society had evil greater than the beasts that lurked in the Dials?”
The Rogue’s Wager falls under a shelf of “mindless reads” that I default to after getting into a book slump or not having the mental capacities to focus on more intricate books. It has a simple plot that is magnified by the romance involving the two main characters. Helena’s background and growth was super interesting to read about, and I thought it provided a different plot line to the norm – which features wallflowers and spinsters. Robert seems like a caricature of another one of those “historical romance heroes” that are so popular: heir to a great title that has a lot of time on his hands. He didn’t stand out as much to me as Helena did, but overall the romance was quite sweet with steamy parts interspersed throughout it all. However repetitive the writing was, I can’t deny that I didn’t have a good time while reading and won’t pick up another one of this author’s books – you know I will.