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When I found out that the next book in Lily Maxton's series involved the man whose proposal Elizabeth rejected, and Elizabeth's sister, Anne, I knew I needed to read it right away.
Anne Middleton isn't your typical English lady -- she swears, speaks her mind, and loves to make wagers. In fact, it was a wager that brought about her chance encounter with Michael Grey, the new Earl of Thornhill, who recently proposed to, and got rejected by her sister, Elizabeth. They met very briefly before -- and neither one had a very good impression of the other. Anne and Michael are complete opposites: Anne isn't one to be pinned down by rules, and, while Michael is new to his title, he knows how to behave himself in society.
But, in the library, where Anne walked in and witnessed Michael extracting himself from a compromising situation (not of his own doing), and where Anne had intended to "borrow" the owner's very naughty copy of Confessions of a Courtesan -- it seems that our hero and heroine have found their middle ground, but not without engaging in a war of words first.
Considering the length of this story, I thought it was a great choice that the author decided to develop the characters' relationship through letters -- it's an intimate medium, and allowed us a glimpse into the very private thoughts of Anne and William. Their letters center on the contents of Confessions of a Courtesan, and I really enjoyed this part. It reminded me of a lot of exchanges I've had with book buddies, and it's one of the best things about reading: it's a solitary exercise, but it is also a social exercise. When they finally meet again, it isn't with the same enmity as their initial meetings: now, they are friendlier to each other. Now they have a shared experience, and I was curious about the book pages they kept referring to. (I do hope Lily Maxton decides to publish the actual Confessions of a Courtesan. From what I've seen, it looks to be an *ahem* steamy read.)
Like her sister, Anne decides to assuage her sexual curiosity and she's asked Michael, who hesitates, at first -- but who also cannot deny that he is very, very attracted to Anne.
There's a lot to love in this novella: I love that Michael and Anne have a complicated history. He proposed to her sister first, so Anne will always think that she is just his second choice, which means Michael needs to prove that he is sincere in his regard for Anne. Then there's the question of suitability: Anne is a bit audacious, and Michael is still feeling his way around his title. Anne's sister, Elizabeth, would have been a better spouse for Michael, because she already knows "the lay of the land."
But the heart wants what the heart wants and Maxton provides a convincing resolution to the obstacles Michael and Anne face -- and it's only fitting that, for a story that began with a wager, it would end would one. One where it's actually a win-win for both sides. ^_^
The Wager is the second instalment in Lily Maxton's Sisters of Scandal series. To find out more about Lily Maxton and her books, click below: