To Gamble on the Earl*
Some Good and Not So Good
I am of several minds about this book. I think the author did an excellent job showing the heroine in a light that seemed more realistic to Regency times than contemporarily written Regency romances tend to be. I thought that her reaction to the traumatic event the ball turned out to be seemed realistic for a sheltered woman, no matter how vivacious she had been before. Even the way that she turned down her friend at first for a social call—how it was handled in that scene—seemed very accurate to Regency to me.
There were other aspects, however, that didn’t seem as true to Regency, including how the hero acted when he found out about the incident. Knowing that the heroine’s reputation was on the line, would he really have talked with his friends about it in such detail? He could ruin her so easily by telling such information to a wider group of people. If one word got out…
Other parts of the story felt scattered. The story jumps forward without much preamble, and that was confusing. Besides what happened at the ball, too, it felt like not much really happened for much of the book. In the first third, we get to see the heroine’s reaction to what happens to her, see her reveal the incident to the hero, and get a little slice of life for the both of them. But nothing really happens in the romance department—which I never like in a romance—and, honestly, nothing much happened at all.
One aspect of the book that I did like was the way the author handled the wounded warriors of Waterloo. Two of the characters are former military, the hero and his friend. Both suffered physical and mental wounds from their experience. The hero has a large scar on his face, and the friend has lost part of a foot. The heroine’s friend suggests the heroine come over for a dinner party because that friend is now awkward in society due to his wound. The hero has come back a changed man, becoming what we might call an adrenaline junkie. This was spurred on by his time in the military, but now he can only feel that excitement he had felt in battle when he gambles. The author also took great pains to show some of the aftereffects of war, namely the widows and orphans home that the heroine and her good friend, the sister of the hero, had chosen as their particular charity. These little moments, with the hero, his friend, and the widows and orphans, show part of the devastation of war. For a romance novel, I thought it was realistic. All in all, I didn’t really like the book as much as I should have because I felt like not much happened, but I did enjoy the window onto what happens after the war for a variety of people.