cover image My Once and Future Duke: The Wagers of Sin

My Once and Future Duke: The Wagers of Sin

Caroline Linden. Avon, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-267292-6

Linden opens a Regency-era series with this poorly characterized but tender romance. Sophie Campbell learned how to be a proper lady at Mrs. Upton’s Academy of Young Ladies, and, in Regency England, ladies do not gamble. However, practical Sophie knows that gambling is her only way to survive financially until she can save enough or find a proper husband. Staying respectable while frequenting gaming clubs is a tricky balance, but Sophie is methodical and avoids risks—until, abruptly, she taunts Jack Lindeville, the Duke of Ware, and greedily accepts a scandalous bet. Love and passion making people act out of character is common in romance novels, but Sophie’s change comes too fast. Jack is the stiff duke responsible for his scolding mother and impetuous brother, but Sophie makes him reckless. Sophie’s choice to continue their affair in London is at odds with her usual demeanor, but their spark helps Jack rediscover things that made him laugh, and his reawakening is a joy to read. Even with the whiplash between propriety and scandal, Sophie and Jack’s romance manages to be simultaneously tempestuous, funny, and sweet. The supporting cast is not well fleshed out, leaving it unclear where this series is going next. (Mar.)