Emma Locke4 out of 5
A WAGER HE CAN'T AFFORD TO LOSE
Devil-may-care rogue Lord Darius Alexander can’t resist a wager. When a game of cards is suggested at the remote inn where he’s stopped for the night, he antes up his family’s savings, certain his Town bronze will give him the advantage. He never expects to lose his fortune to the irritatingly confident, uncommonly beautiful hoyden daring to play with the men. …Nor does he expect to lose his heart.
A WOMAN HE DOESN'T DESERVE TO WIN
Caitlin Hart is known for her good sense. When a ridiculous reprobate tosses his savings onto the gaming table, she doesn’t hesitate to divest him of it. But Lord Dare won’t accept defeat like a gentleman. He suggests a compromise, and before long the handsome scoundrel is working back his losses on her small farm. But her neatly plowed fields might be too close for her heart’s content, for soon she finds herself wondering if she can dare him to stay forever when the last of his coin is tucked safely into his pocket.
Trying to pay back his gambling debts, Dare finds out he can do manual labour, and his charm won't work on the focused farm-owner Cait.
I downloaded this for free - this is the first book I've read by Emma Locke, and I enjoyed it!
It is the fourth book in this series, but it works well as a stand-alone, and I didn't feel lost coming in at this point.
During a game of cards, Dare loses £100 that belongs to his brothers' business. The money spells the end for the addicted gambler; but is a miracle for Miss Cait, who struggles to keep her farm afloat with no money and no farmhands.
They come to an agreement - Dare can have his money back, in the form of a wage earned, by hard work on the farm.
I liked our main characters. Dare has gambled away everything and is in a tonne of debt, with shadowy enemies waiting to get their cut. For so long, he's just gotten himself deeper, resigned to the fact that he's beyond help. He's a decent enough chap, and he still cares for his family, and regrets the pain he puts them through, but there's nothing he can do about it.
Cait is an independent woman, who is a hard-working soul. From dawn til dusk she is working on her farm, trying single-handedly to keep it afloat. She has to contend with her bully neighbour, and the fact that she is "just" a woman, but never lets it put her off. she is very focused and determined, no matter what life throws her way. (Stubborn farmgirl - don't know why I relate)
The story is fun and frustrating, and just pulls you along. It keeps you guessing throughout, what will be the outcome and how it will come about. It is light and entertaining, but treats its themes of addiction and gambling with due respect.
I liked how the romance builds gradually between Cait and Dare, and even when they realise they are in love, they don't let it overrule what is happening in their life, or their common sense.
No, it's not perfect. Although a lot of the facts are historically accurate, there is creative license taken with the behaviour and especially the speech of the characters. The Alexander family do feel very modern and very American, which is always a little annoying when it comes to a British noble family. But other than that, I enjoyed this!