"The Courtesan's Wager" Claudia Dain

Pros: Witty dialogue, humorous in parts
Cons: The characters’ connection is revealed in the middle of the book
Rating: 4.75 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Amelia Caversham, daughter of a duke, has spent two Seasons available, but no one is interested. Determined to marry a duke, she requests the help of a former courtesan and matchmaker named Sophia Dalby.There are two eligible dukes, and one ducal heir. The heir has a brother, Lord Cranleigh. Lord Cranleigh is determined that Amelia will not get a chance to sink her claws into his brother. As Sophia’s plan unfolds, Amelia finds herself the talk of the ton, and face to face with Lord Cranleigh. Will she be able to land her duke? Or does something better await her?

 

This was a fun book to read. The plot is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and puts an interesting twist on the traditional historical guy romances girl dynamic. Dain manages the action skillfully through the use of multiple characters so that we always see the action from an interesting perspective. When Amelia is interviewing her first ducal candidate, for example, we get to watch the interview through the duke’s eyes and so get to experience his various reactions to the interview, which range from amusement to disbelief to outright outrage.

All of Dain’s characters are well-fleshed out; the reader is easily able to relate to them through well-detailed emotions. Watching dukes being interviewed, or a debutante who is having the limelight stolen from her, the reader gets to watch their emotional reactions. This makes for a very satisfying read. Amelia’s reactions are also a joy to watch; her discomfort at the situation she gets herself into moves into a gradual acceptance of the fact that her place within Society is changing because of her escapades, and the progression feels very genuine.

Dain also has a wicked sense of humor, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the exchanges between Amelia and Cranleigh. They exchange barely disguised insults, and in one memorable scene, Amelia attempts to shove Cranleigh during a ball as he attempts to keep her away from his brother. The interview between the first duke and Amelia isn’t devoid of humor either. Sophia alternately baits and manipulates him, and the combination is definitely amusing.

There was one element that threw me, however. About halfway through the book, the reader finds out that Amelia and Cranleigh have in fact known each other for two years and have been kissing on and off for those two years. Now, that made me sit back and flip back through the book. Not once before this point has it been mentioned that there was a relationship between the two before the book started, and the way that the book is written, it seems at the beginning of the book that the two are only just beginning to form a relationship. It’s a little inconsistent.

Other than that minor complaint, it was an excellent book. I found myself chuckling more than once, and couldn’t put it down. I finished it in one sitting. The characters are so well drawn, it is easy to get lost in their interactions. The plot is well thought out, and keeps you reading. It was so much fun watching Amelia and Cranleigh work towards their happy ending. I enjoyed it so much, I’m going to have to pick up Ms. Dain’s other books featuring Sophia Dalby!

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One comment on “"The Courtesan's Wager" Claudia Dain
  1. David Russell says:

    Hi, Rene thank you for your review of Courtesan’s Wager. I participate in the talking book program through our local library for the blind and visually disabled, and they sent me this book based on my reading preferences. Will give it a listen based on your review, thanks. BTW can anyone recommend a web site or social network where brief discussion occurs between fiction readers? I work from home and occasionally like to have verbal exchange with others who share similar interests. Thanks in advance and enjoy your current read!

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