Review: Beard Necessities by Penny Reid

Beard Necessities by Penny Reid
Series: Winston Brothers #7 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: November 4th 2019
Links: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Billy Winston’s family is going to see him happy and in love if it’s the last thing they do.

No one deserves a happily-ever-after quite as much as the second oldest Winston brother and his lady love, Claire McClure (aka Scarlet St. Claire). Cruelty and circumstance tore them apart almost twenty years ago. Secrecy and bitterness kept them separated.

But you know who’s tired of their separation and stubbornness? Everyone. Especially Billy Winston’s family. And now they’re going to do something about it.

Well-meaning interference means the star-crossed lovers can’t stop tripping over each other in the hills of Tuscany, the catacombs of Rome, and the waterways of Venice. Billy and Claire find themselves thrown together and at the mercy of the Winston siblings’ shenanigans.

But will their forced proximity bring them together? Or push them even further apart?

This second-chance romance brings back the entire Winston gang, playing cupid in one last story of love, hi-jinks, and family collusion.

Oh, my heart. I couldn’t be happier for Billy and Claire (aka Scarlet) getting their second chance at an HEA. I loooved all the Winston family shenanigans (hello, Cletus!) and that epilogue made me SO damn happy, my heart was bursting. As bittersweet as this finale is, I couldn’t think of a lovelier ending for the Winston Brothers series, but I am also so thankful we’re getting a Cletus and Jenn series later on!

“But Scarlet,” he said my name reverently, gently, like it was a prayer he repeated often, “I didn’t need to see or touch or taste paradise to know how deeply and irrevocably I am in love with you. That hasn’t changed. That is as constant as my soul, which has been, and will always be, forever yours.”

Billy and Claire’s story has been YEARS in the making, which means years of torturous anticipation for their second chance. Penny Reid wrecked my heart in the best of ways with Beard with Me, so when this final Winston Brothers book landed on my kindle, I dove right in with no hesitation. The beginning was slow and a bit frustrating, I’m not going to lie. I was expecting Billy to be full-on pursing the love of his life, but he chose not to. I felt exactly how the rest of the Winstons did, which was wanting to smoosh Billy and Claire and force them to get back together, because we ALL know how meant to be they are.

Thankfully neither Billy nor Claire spend too much time resisting each other or the love that has always burned between them. It takes a lot communication and patience between them, but once the romance picks back up, I couldn’t put the book down! There’s decades-long worth of tension and longing, and when it explodes, it EXPLODES.

“Make no mistake, what just happened between us was momentous for me. My life and heart have been forever transformed. You are the architect and artist of my own personal paradise. Now, when I close my eyes, I won’t need to imagine what heaven feels like. I’ll know.”

Penny Reid takes us on a gorgeous journey around Italy with all of the Winstons. I loved how determined they were (particularly Cletus) to bring Billy and Claire back together, no matter what scenarios they had to come up with. Having this family all together in the Italian countryside is a total RIOT, and I’m a little devastated that their stories are over for now. But Beard Necessities was absolutely worth the wait, not just for this long-awaited couple, but for the Winston family as a whole. Each one has a love and family of their own, and I’ll be forever grateful to Penny for giving us such a lovely, unforgettable cast of characters!


lacey


Reading Order: Winston Brothers series

Truth or Beard by Penny Reid Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid Beard Science by Penny Reid
   

#1 ~ Truth or Beard: My Review • Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Grin and Beard It: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Beard Science: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#4 ~ Beard in Mind: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#5 ~ Dr. Strange Beard: My ReviewEbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#6 ~ Beard With Me: My ReviewEbookPaperbackGoodreads
#7 ~ Beard Necessities: EbookPaperbackGoodreads


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Review: The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan

The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan
Series: All the King’s Men Duet #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: October 28th 2019
Links: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Power. Passion. Betrayal.

Kennedy Ryan delivers the epic first installment of the All the King’s Men Duet.

Raised to rule, bred to lead and weaned on a diet of ruthless ambition.

In a world of haves and have nots, my family has it all, and I want nothing to do with it.

My path takes me far from home and paints me as the black sheep. At odds with my father, I’m determined to build my own empire. I have rules, but Lennix Hunter is the exception to every one of them. From the moment we meet, something sparks between us. But my family stole from hers and my father is the man she hates most. I lied to have her, and will do anything to keep her. Though she tries to hate me, too, the inexorable pull between us will not be denied.

And neither will I.

This book is ABSOLUTE PERFECTION. It deserves all the stars and all the love. I haven’t felt this giggly and excited about a read in a while, but The Kingmaker blew. me. away. It’s sexy, smart, aware – I LOVED the way Kennedy Ryan blended the romance and politics. Also… Maxim and Lennix were on fire together!!! This book without a doubt is definitely going on my best of 2019 list and right now I’m willing to do anything to get my hands on the sequel.

It’s been a while since my last Kennedy Ryan read, but reading The Kingmaker reminded me of how much I love her writing. Everything from the romance, the second chance, the heroine’s Native American heritage, the hero’s sustainability ambitions, all were seamlessly blended together in a thoughtful, meaningful, and addicting read. Have I mentioned how much I love this book?

When Lennix and Maxim first meet, they find an instantaneous connection together over their youthful ambition and desire for a better world. She’s trying to save her Native American ancestors’ land, and she doesn’t know that he’s the son of the corporation’s CEO trying to destroy that land. They never expect to see each other again after their time in jail after a protest, but years later, they reunite in a chance encounter in Amsterdam. They have one week left before they move to opposite sides of the Earth, but they use that week to its fullest. Theirs is a whirlwind, passionate romance that had me swooning and wanting an HEA for them, even though I knew they wouldn’t get one… yet.

“How does it feel knowing you could bring a man like me to my knees?”

The Kingmaker is divided into three parts, and the last part is the second chance Maxim and Lennix deserve ten years later. It’s a beautiful, emotional, and sexy as hell second chance. Lennix wants nothing to do with Maxim and Maxim is determined to win the heart of the woman who stole his a decade ago. If you thought these two were steamy in their 20s, that’s NOTHING compared to them in their 30s. They’re all grown up now, Maxim especially. You will absolutely be fanning yourself over this man, his desire to save Mother Nature, and how single-minded he is to make Lennix love him again.

He was my first. Ten years ago when we made love, I didn’t know a passion like this was rare, something to be coveted and chased and clutched, but tonight, I know it’s a comet shooting across the sky and all we can do is ride its fiery trail.
Now I know.

If there’s a romance you need to read this year, it’s The Kingmaker. Lennix is one of the strongest, most passionate and admirable heroines I’ve ever read. Maxim will have you heart-eyeing for days. I fell so hard for this couple and the first part of their epic love story. Now I am DYING to read The Rebel King!


lacey

Reading Order: All the King’s Men Duet

#1 ~ The Kingmaker: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ The Rebel King: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (Nov. 17, 2019)


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Release Day Review: Dreams of 18 by Saffron A. Kent

Dreams of 18 by Saffron A. Kent
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: October 10th 2019
Links: Ebook • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

“You don’t go around kissing your best friend’s dad, do you?
Even though that’s all you ever dream about.”

Violet Moore is in love with a man who hates her.

Well, to be fair, she kinda deserves it.

On her eighteenth birthday, she got drunk and threw herself at him, causing a huge scandal in their sleepy suburban town.

Now everyone thinks she’s a slut and he has disappeared. Rumor has it that he’s been living up in the mountains of Colorado, all alone and in isolation.

But Violet is going to make it right.

She’s going to find him and bring him back.

No matter how cruel and mean he is, how much he hurts her with his cold-hearted and abrasive ways, she won’t give up.

And neither will she think about his tempting lips or his sculpted muscles or his strong hands. The hands that she wants on her body, touching her, feeling her skin…

The hands that make her want to forget everything and kiss Graham Edwards – Mr. Edwards, actually – again.

Because you don’t go around kissing your best friend’s dad, do you?

Even though that’s all you ever dream about.

I really wanted to love this one more! I love age gap and forbidden love in my romances, so I had high expectations going into this, despite it being my first Saffron A. Kent book. And this book was HOT – no denying that. It delivers on all the taboo and forbidden-ness that I was hoping for. But the romance itself was lacking a bit in the development side. It was very much instalove, which I personally don’t mind. But in this case, I needed something MORE to make me believe in this couple, especially with how different the main characters are.

Violet first meets her new, older next door neighbor when she’s 16. She’s a loner but becomes best friends with Graham’s son, who’s in the same class as her. Nothing happens with Graham except a buildup of fantasies and lust until she’s 18, when she kisses him on her birthday, which ends up spiraling both their lives out of control. Violet is sent to a mental institution and Graham moves across the country. 10 months later, Violet shows up on Graham’s doorstep wanting to make things right… and Graham wants nothing to do with her.

If you love asshole, surly heroes, Graham is your man. I was really interested in seeing how Violet would break down his walls and get him to warm up to her. Violet is cute and quirky, but has a huge anxiety disorder that makes it difficult for her to go out. She only ever feels safe with Graham, which I thought was so sweet. Graham took a while for me to warm up to, just because he is SUCH a huge jerk to Violet. I got a little tired of it after a while, but I did love how alpha and possessive he was around Violet.

When sex got involved, things went a little downhill for me. It’s filthy, with a TON of dirty talk, but there’s just sooo much sex that the romance wasn’t at the forefront anymore. I wanted to see Graham and Violet fall for each other outside of sex, but we didn’t get much of that.

I enjoyed SAK’s writing, but the story itself wasn’t for me. Apparently this book connects with Medicine Man, so maybe if you loved that one, you might enjoy Dreams of 18 too. But even though I didn’t love this book, I definitely want to read more from this author!


lacey


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Blog Tour // Review + Excerpt: War of Hearts by Samantha Young

War of Hearts by Samantha Young
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
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Thea Quinn has no idea what she is. All she knows is that her abilities have been a plague upon her life since she was a child. After years of suffering at the hands of a megalomaniac, Thea escaped and has been on the run ever since.

The leadership and protection of his pack are of the utmost importance to Conall MacLennan, Alpha and Chief of Clan MacLennan, the last werewolf pack in Scotland. Which is why watching his sister slowly die of a lycanthropic disease is emotional torture. When Conall is approached by a businessman who offers a cure for his sister in exchange for the use of Conall’s rare tracking ability, Conall forges an unbreakable contract with him. He has to find and retrieve the key to the cure: dangerous murderer, Thea Quinn.

Thea’s attempts to evade the ruthless werewolf are not only thwarted by the Alpha, but by outside dangers. With no choice but to rely on one another for survival, truths are revealed, intensifying a passionate connection they both fight to resist. At war with themselves and each other, Conall and Thea’s journey to Scotland forces them to face a heartrending choice between love and betrayal.

Buy Links:
EbookPaperbackHardcover
Barnes & NobleiBooksKobo

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This was my first paranormal romance of Samantha Young’s and I really did enjoy it! PNR holds a special place in my heart so when I heard SY would be writing a new book in this subgenre, I was jumping for joy. And not only is it PNR, it’s SHIFTER PNR! War of Hearts dives us into a fantastic, new paranormal world that I’m really hoping we get more of. I loved the main characters (there’s even a scene where they’re forced to share a bed in a hotel) and even though the book wasn’t perfect, I definitely say give it a try if you love this author or PNR!

Thea Quinn is on the run from her abuser. She’s indestructible, has insane healing abilities, but doesn’t fit into the vampire/werewolf/witch/etc mold, and has no idea what she is. Conall MacLennan is the alpha of the Scotland werewolf pack, and in order to save his dying sister, he makes a deal to deliver Thea to a man in exchange for her healing blood. He’s told Thea is a lying, manipulative murderer, so why is it when he finds her and the more time he spends around her, the more he doubts that that’s who she is?

Thea and Conall are BADASS. Thea can kick ass like nobodies business – she’s had to learn to defend herself since being on the run for years. I also felt for her too. She’s been through so much awful things that you can’t help but hurt for her. As the alpha of one of the most powerful werewolf packs in the world, obviously Conall can hold his own too. He’s gruff and intense and 6 1/2 feet of gorgeousness. I loved all the action and fight scenes Thea and Conall get into. Samantha Young did a fantastic job at keeping you on the edge of your seat and glued to the pages with all the action!

As much as I loved Thea and Conall’s characters, I had some issues with the romance, particularly with the pacing of it. It’s pretty much non-existent for a good chunk of the first half of the book, except for some underlying chemistry. But that was fine, because I was loving the slow burn. But then the “oops, there’s only one bed in this hotel room” thing happened (which I’m a sucker for), and things moved at a warped speed. Yes, it is a fated mates kind of romance, which normally I love, but in this case I think it was a bit too fast for them to start saying “I love yous” so soon. Also, it was pretty obvious what Thea was pretty early on in the book. But I don’t know if it’s because I read a ton of PNR/fantasy romance?

Still, this is a solid read I would recommend if you love shifter romances. It’s full of action, with great main characters. We get to travel all across Europe along with Thea and Conall. We’re left with a little tease at the end and I do actually want more books from this world. I also have a feeling that many of SY’s contemporary readers will want to give this a try, and I say go for it!


lacey

Now here’s an excerpt from War of Hearts! ❤

excerpt button

Stepping back inside the motel room, Thea halted as Conall came out of the bathroom. His height caused a logistical problem for her next move.

Although his color hadn’t fully returned to normal, the wolf was looking much stronger. She didn’t know if she could take him in a fight when he was at full strength, which was more than a little concerning. As if he’d read her mind, he cut her an expressionless look. “You should have left me to die, lass.”

“Probably. I guess I’m just going to have to take the chance you were bluffing.”

He frowned and opened his mouth to question her, but Thea had already made her move.

Before he could comprehend it, she was on the bed behind him and reaching for his head before his weakened reflexes could catch up.

The crack of his neck echoed around the room, causing a sick lurch in Thea’s stomach.

For some reason, stupid tears stung her eyes as she watched his body hit the ground with an almighty thud. Why should she care? It wasn’t like he was dead. She’d knocked him out. For … however long he took to heal.

And he had stuck her with that goddamn injection.

Speaking of …

Thea jumped off the mattress, avoiding Conall’s body. Earlier when she’d been treating his wounds, she’d spied the syringes in the first aid kit. Grabbing them, Thea hurried out of the motel room and toward the fields beyond. Quickly she dug a hole with her bare hands and buried the syringes. Hurrying back, she avoided staring at Conall because he looked very much dead.

She grabbed his wallet and as she took his money, leaving him his credit cards, a folded-up photograph caught her attention. Curiosity got the better of her and she pulled it out. Smoothing her fingers across the picture, she spotted who she thought was Conall only to realize it wasn’t. The man who looked like him was standing next to a much younger Conall, and Thea deduced it was his father. The younger Conall had his arm around the waist of a small, redheaded girl buried into his side. And beside the man she’d mistaken for Conall was a beautiful redheaded woman.

Was this Conall and his family?

They were standing on a rocky beach, a beautiful lake and mountains behind them.

Thea wondered which one of them was sick. Which of these people was he willing to sacrifice her for?

Memories of her own parents swelled in her throat, burning and screaming to get out. But Thea shoved them back down as she shoved the photograph into his wallet.

There were times she pulled those memories out and let herself swim in the pain because it was worth it to remember the happy moments.

But now was not the time.

With a ruthless supernatural sure to wake up from a broken neck wanting to kill her, and some unknown entity out there hunting her too, now was very much the time to go.

about the author button

Samantha Young is a New York Times and #1 International bestselling author from Stirlingshire, Scotland. On Dublin Street was Samantha’s first adult contemporary romance series and has sold in thirty countries. She has since published over thirteen romance titles including the New York Times Bestsellers Into the Deep, Hero, and her most recent contemporary romance Fight or Flight. When writing Adult Paranormal romance she writes under the pen name S. Young.

WebsiteInstagramTwitter • Facebook • Goodreads


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Blog Tour // Review + Excerpt: When the Marquess Was Mine by Caroline Linden

When the Marquess Was Mine by Caroline Linden
Series: The Wagers of Sin #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: September 24th 2019
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In the game of love…

Georgiana Lucas despises the arrogant and cruel Marquess of Westmorland even before learning that he’s won the deed to her friend Kitty’s home in a card game. Still, Georgiana assures Kitty the marquess wouldn’t possibly come all the way to Derbyshire to throw them out—until he shows up, bloody and unconscious. Fearing that Kitty would rather see him die, Georgiana blurts out that he’s her fiancé. She’ll nurse the hateful man back to health and make him vow to leave and never return. The man who wakes up, though, is nothing like the heartless rogue Georgiana thought she knew…

You have to risk it all

He wakes up with no memory of being assaulted—or of who he is. The bewitching beauty tending him so devotedly calls him Rob and claims she’s his fiancée even as she avoids his touch. Though he can’t remember how he won her hand, he’s now determined to win her heart. But as his memory returns and the truth is revealed, Rob must decide if the game is up—or if he’ll take a chance on a love that defies all odds.

Buy Links:
AmazonBarnes & NobleBAMBook DepositoryIndieBound

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So this was my first Caroline Linden book! I was intrigued by the amnesia plot and had to give it a try. I’ve been wanting to read one of her books for a while, and I’m glad to say I liked this one. There were a couple things I struggled with but I enjoyed the main characters and am curious about the previous two books in the Wagers of Sin series. If you’re going into this as a standalone like I did, you won’t miss anything even if you haven’t read the others in the series.

There’s something about amnesia romance plots that get me so invested. I HAVE to find out how the character with amnesia regains their memories and what happens when everything is revealed. In When the Marquess Was Mine, Robert loses all memory of who he is after an assault to the head. He’s taken in by Georgiana, who knows exactly who he is – the cruel, arrogant Marquess of Westmorland. But to save his life, she lies to her friend’s family and pretends he is her fiancé, who coincidentally shares the same name. When Rob awakens though, he’s not the insufferable man Georgiana expects. Rob’s charming, sweet, and very much into Georgiana.

Rob and Georgiana have a sweet and slow romance. There’s plenty of longing and tension between them, though the lies about Rob’s identity puts Georgiana in a sticky situation. I adored Rob and was thankful that he had quite the personality change because of his amnesia. No longer is he the mean, callous man who would make terrible remarks about others. He’s a lot more honorable, kind, and shows so much adoration and affection for Georgiana. I loved how determined he was to win her heart!

The main characters and the romance were the highlight of this book for me, but it was everything outside of it that had me struggling. We’re introduced to a heap of characters in the beginning, many who are involved in the gambling aspect of the story that doesn’t come up again until the end, which felt pretty overwhelming. The plot surrounding the gambling fell flat for me and the mystery towards the end felt like it came out of the left field. I was also really looking forward to Rob recognizing and atoning for who he was in the past (his cruelness) but that was never really discussed even after he regained his memories.

Overall, I’d say this was a good intro to Caroline Linden’s books for me. The pacing of the story was slow for me, but I liked the writing and the characters and am really hoping we get stories for Rob’s brothers!


lacey

Now here’s Chapter One from When the Marquess Was Mine! ❤

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Chapter One
1819

It was to be a bacchanal for the ages.

As Heathercote remarked, a man only turned twenty-nine once. Marlow pointed out that a man also only turned twenty-eight, or thirty, once as well, but they were well used to ignoring Marlow’s odd points of reason, and this one was promptly forgotten.

Heathercote planned the entire affair, inviting the most dashing, daring rogues and scoundrels in London. He declared it to be the invitation of the month, and that he’d turned away several fellows for lacking wit, style, or both. “You mean they aren’t up to your standard of mayhem,” said Westmorland, whose birthday it was, to which Heathercote mimed tipping his hat in acknowledgment.

After a raucous dinner at White’s, they decamped for the theater. The production was well under way when they invaded the pit in search of amusement. By the time the show ended, they had drunk a great deal of brandy, thrown oranges at the stage, and lost Clifton to the company of a prostitute.

Everyone’s memories ran a bit ragged after that, with vague recollections of singing in the streets and Marlow casting up his accounts somewhere in Westminster, but eventually they settled at the Vega Club. It was so late, the manager tried to dissuade them from play. Mr. Forbes knew every one of them could wager for hours, and the Vega Club closed its doors at dawn.

But Heathercote persuaded him to let them in and to give them the whist salon all to themselves. “We’ll leave by noon,” he promised, patting Forbes on the chest as he slid a handful of notes into the man’s hand. His words were remarkably steady for a man who’d been drinking for eight hours. Grim-faced, Forbes let them in, where they commandeered the main table and called for yet more wine.

A few intrepid souls followed them from the club proper. Forbes tried to stop them at the door, but Forester recognized one and waved them in. “We don’t mind winning their money,” he said with a hiccup.

They played whist, then switched to loo. One loser was dared to drink off the contents of his full flask in one go, which he did. The room filled with cigar smoke and ribald language, and the wagers grew extravagant. Marlow won a prize colt off Forester. Heathercote wagered his new phaeton and ended up with someone’s barouche. Sackville won the largest pot of the night, and everyone pelted him with markers.

And then one of the hangers-on spoiled it. He had the look of a country fellow new to London, with an arrogant bluster that was initially amusing but eventually turned annoying. He’d played well enough, winning a bit and losing with colorful curses that made the rest of them roar with laughter. But it became abruptly clear that Sir Charles Winston was in over his head when he wagered his house.

Marlow laughed. Heathercote picked up the scribbled note Winston had put forth and read it with one brow arched. “Can’t wager property, Winslow.”

The man was already ruddy from drink, and now he turned scarlet. “Can so! Your fellow wagered a horse.”

“Horses are portable,” said Forester, his Liverpool accent bleeding through. “Houses are not.”

“Houses are worth more!”

“Aye, too much more.” Heathercote flicked the note back across the table. “Markers.”

“I haven’t got any more markers,” muttered the younger man. For a moment everyone focused in surprised silence on the empty space in front of him. None of them had run out.

“Then fold your hand,” Forester told him. “You’re out!”

Winston’s chin set stubbornly. His mate tried to slide some markers toward him, but he angrily shoved them back. “Give me a chance to win it back.”

“All the more reason to walk away, if you’ve lost ‘em all.” Marlow waved one hand, nearly toppling out of his seat. Mr. Forbes, watching grimly from the corner, came forward. “Forbes, Windermere is done.”

“Sir Charles,” murmured the manager. “Perhaps it’s time to go.”

“Not yet!” Winston scowled at them all, shaking off his friend’s quiet attempts to get him to fold. “Not now, Farley! They got a chance to turn their luck. Why shouldn’t I?”

“Luck is like the wind,” said a new voice. Nicholas Dashwood, the owner of the Vega Club, stepped out of the shadows. “It rarely turns propitiously.”

Winston stubbornly sank lower in his seat. “I deserve ‘nother chance.”

Heathercote slung his arms over the back of his chair. “Well, West? What say you? Shall we let him stay and wager away everything he’s got?”

Lounging in his seat, the Marquess of Westmorland looked up in irritation. “Really ought to go, Winsmore.”

“Wins-less, more like,” snickered Marlow.

Winston sat up straighter in his seat. “Please, my lord.”

“Oh, let him ruin himself,” muttered Forester, shuffling his cards restlessly.

The marquess lifted one shoulder. “Damned if I care.”

“Sir Charles,” said Dashwood evenly, “do not wager what you cannot afford to lose.”

Winston scooped up the scribbled paper and added a line, signing his name with a flourish. “I won’t, sir.”

But he did. Within four hands, he’d won a bit and then lost it all—including the deed. Suddenly he did not look so belligerent or so stubborn. He looked young and quite literally green, staring at the winning hand, lying on the table.

“Should have listened,” said the unsympathetic Heathercote. “Should have left.”

Winston puffed up furiously. “Should have known better than to play with the likes of you!”

“Di’n’t y’know that before you sa’ down?” Marlow’s words slurred together. “Stupid bloody fool!”

“That’s my home!”

“And you risked it at loo!” Heath made a derisive noise. “Idiot.”

Winston was the color of beets. “Don’t call me that.”

Sackville raised one brow. “No? ’S not your home anymore.” He reached out and plucked the scrawled paper from the pile of markers and examined it, although his eyes never quite managed to focus on it. “It ‘pears to be West’s.”

His friends howled with laughter. “He doesn’t need it,” cried Winston. He made a convulsive grab for the paper before his lone remaining friend caught his arm. “He’s got a dozen houses!”

“Set it up as a brothel, West,” suggested Forester. “And give all your mates discounted fees.”

“Free!” yelped Marlow with a wheezing laugh.

Winston drew a furious breath, but instead of continuing the fight he turned and rushed from the room, rather unsteadily; he wrestled with the door, and then almost tripped on his way out, causing more howls of laughter from the table. His friend helped him back onto his feet before the door closed on them both.

“Who invited him?” asked Heathercote in disdain.

“Marlow.”

“Ballocks,” mumbled Marlow, putting his head down on the table. “Never did. Was Forester.”

Forester made a rude gesture. “I vouched for the other man, Farley.”

“Your friends are all bad ton,” said Sackville.

Forester’s face tightened. He rose and swung his wineglass into the air in a toast, spilling some. “Thank you all for a most exciting evening, gentlemen.” Pointedly he bowed only to Viscount Heathercote and Lord Westmorland. Sackville repaid him with a rude gesture at Forester’s back.

Heathercote protested, but Forester waved him off and left. With Marlow asleep on the table and Sackville still giggling drunkenly to himself, Westmorland placed his hands on the table, hesitated as if gathering strength, then heaved himself to his feet. “The carriages, Dashwood.”

Stone-faced, the owner left. Westmorland surveyed the table. “Did I win the last?”

“Aye,” said Heathercote with a wide yawn.

“Credit it all, Forbes,” said the marquess. “God above, I’m tired.”

As expressionless as his employer, the manager stepped forward. With an air of distaste, he picked up the deed promise and held it out. “I cannot credit this, my lord.”

West stared at it. “Damn. Right.” He stuffed it into the pocket of his jacket and staggered out into the morning sunlight with Heathercote, never guessing the trouble that wagered deed was about to cause him.

Reading Order: The Wagers of Sin series

 

#1 ~ My Once and Future Duke: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ An Earl Like You: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ When the Marquess Was Mine: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads

about the author button

Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a degree in mathematics from Harvard University and worked as a programmer in the financial services industry before realizing writing fiction is much more exciting than writing code. Her books have won the NEC-RWA Readers’ Choice Award, the JNRW Golden Leaf, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA’s RITA Award, and have been translated into seventeen languages around the world. She lives in New England.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads


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