Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Wagered Heart - Rhonda Woodward

An Alarming Kiss

The incident is quite unexpected. Enjoying a spring afternoon of shop-ping with her relatives, Miss Julia Allard could not be better chaperoned with the Royal Navy by her side. Even so, a handsome stranger catches up to her, and before she knows what's happening, Miss Allard is in his arms being kissed!The young lady slaps her assailant, of course, but not before her reputation has been fairly tarnished--and the memory of his passionate kiss forever sealed on her lips. The stranger in question, the Duke of Kelbourne, has made a name for himself with such roguish acts. Now, to allay rumors, the mortified Miss Allard must cut short her Season and return home, where she'll concoct an elaborate plan to exact her revenge. Little does she know, however, that the duke also has sonic plans up his rakish sleeve....

Julia Allard is in town for the season with her cousin and her family when one day she is accosted by a stranger on the streets and kissed. The kisser was the duke of Kelbourne trying to win a wager made after a night of drunken revelry. When the matter is known Juliann's relatives decide to ship her to the country as they feel they could never force the duke to propose and her reputation will be in tatters if it becomes known she is the woman involved. So Juliann is sent back home in disgrace although she never really did anything to deserve it and feeling rather hurt that she could not have a season.

A few months later she is invited to join her cousin, now married, in Bath. One day, in the streets, she meets the Duke of Kelbourne who, in the mean time, had realised that is actions were less than acceptable and suddenly decides he must apologise. Unfortunately the duke's apology leaves Julia feeling more offended still and she decides to work on a little revenge of her own by engaging his attentions and then refusing him. Since they meet constantly at several social functions that's not really difficult to work on, although sometimes Juliann can't always keep her cool and serene facade and she soon starts finding the duke more attractive than she would like.

It must be said that although Kelbourne does apologise for his actions, his bad behaviour is not something that he has thought much about. In fact when we meet him again in Bath he is ready to move in from his rakish ways and settle down and marry. Julia, on the other hand, is still suffering the effects of having been sent home and everyone in the village has been gossiping about it. What I enjoyed the most about the book was how it was about class and status and how that influenced people's daily lives. The highest ranking people could get away with almost anything while the others were left to dance to their tune.

The book includes a big set of secondary characters which are all of Julia and Kelbourne's family and friends and there's a secondary storyline about Julia's cousin problems with her mother in law that I actually thought were fun. The story is definitely on the light side, despite the subject, except for the scenes where Julia was exposed as the woman Kel had kissed. I thought that intruded a bit in the general tone of the book but nothing to worry about o I can really say I enjoyed it.

Grade: 4/5

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