Monday, October 12, 2015

Review: Scandalous Wager by Christy Carlyle (e-novella)


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Lizzy Ainsworth is on a mission in Whitechapel -- she is seeking out Detective Inspector Ian Reed, and she intends to have her one night of passion before relegating herself to spinsterhood.

It's interesting that Christy Carlyle chose Whitechapel as the background for her romantic novellas. What's more interesting is that Carlyle decided to set it in Whitechapel, during Jack the Ripper's Reign of Terror. Carlyle has a talent for capturing the essence (and menace) of Whitechapel.

...Fog and smoke filled the air most days, and when the sun did shine on the East End, it only highlighted the layer of grime that seemed to coat the buildings and the clothing of those who inhabited the teeming streets. She never expected to emerge clean from a visit to Whitechapel.
- Chapter 1

Lizzy had long ago accepted that she was the plain sister. Her sister, Sara, was the jewel of the family, and it had never bothered her before, until Ian Reed came into their lives. Suddenly, Lizzy started to feel things she never thought she would ever feel: feelings of inadequacy, a bit of jealousy, and, more importantly, attraction, and desire.

In a sense, Ian's appearance in their lives made Lizzy realize that she hadn't really challenged herself or pushed herself beyond her comfort zone -- and, for the first time in her life, Lizzy finds the encouragement to pursue something that she really wants.

Carlyle focuses on her heroine's agency -- and I love that Lizzy doesn't sit in pity and pine away for Ian Reed -- instead, she's the one who initiates the conversation between them. I think it's incredibly brave of Lizzy to lay her heart on the line, regardless of whether Ian reciprocated her feelings or not.

..."I have something to ask of you, Inspector Reed. Ian."

She could no longer meet his eyes and studied her hands, folded tightly in her lap, as she forced the rest of the words out. "And something to offer."
- Chapter 1

It is quite predictable when it is revealed that Ian was secretly attracted to Lizzy, as well, and had wanted to pursue her, but he was also uncertain of Lizzy's reception. Add to that, the complication that Ian actually works for Lizzy's father in the police department. I was excited to see our hero and heroine together, but their rendezvous is interrupted by reports of another Ripper killing.

I thought this was a very well-written novella with vivid details of Whitechapel -- the added mystery of Jack the Ripper adds to my fascination for this series. The author does resolve the love story between Lizzy and Ian. (However, I am a bit on the fence on the declarations of love after eight chapters -- I don't know if that's just me.) It seems that the author will continue the investigations into the Jack the Ripper killings in the next two novellas in the series. (I already purchased the second one, Wanton Wager.)

Scandalous Wager is the first instalment in Christy Carlyle's Whitechapel Wagers series and her debut. To find out more about Christy Carlyle and her books, click below:
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