The Wager by @RegencyLady is a Christmas Holiday Festival pick #regency #historicalromance #giveaway
Title: The Wager
Author: Angelina Jameson
Genre: Regency Historical Romance
Lord Chastain, darling of the gossip sheets, has seven days to turn a lady's head. Lady Iris, aware of the wager, finds the viscount hard to resist. As the pair spend time together, Chastain finds his own head turned and Iris discovers you can't believe everything you read.
December 1822, Norfolk
Lady Iris Blevins stood outside the study frozen in disbelief. She’d heard her name quite clearly from inside the room and her inquisitive nature won out over propriety. She looked about to ensure there were no bystanders nearby. When she was sure she was alone in the corridor, she crouched down to press an ear against the keyhole of the mahogany door.
“You want me to court your sister?” Lord Chastain asked, his tone incredulous. “Good heavens, Ambrose, the woman can barely tolerate me.”
The laughter following Chastain’s accurate assessment of her feelings for him came from the third man present, the normally dour Lord Peake. “Lady Iris is a serious young woman and considers you to be a loose fish, or so I’ve heard her say on more than one occasion.”
“You did tell us you could turn any woman’s head, did you not?” Ambrose asked, a challenge in his voice. “I recall you boasted of your power over the fairer sex not a fortnight ago at White’s.”
She choked back an indignant sniff upon hearing Ambrose’s words.
“Hear, hear!” Lord Peake chimed in again. “I too remember your declaration of the universal appeal you hold for women.”
“I have no desire to marry at this time so having Ambrose’s sister fall in love with me would be most inconvenient,” Chastain replied.
Puzzlingly, Iris thought there was a forced lightness to his words. The rich timbre of his voice awakened her senses. She took a deep breath and was immediately assailed by the scent of beeswax from the wood-polish the maids used in the house.
“You shall have to marry eventually,” Peake said. “Beget an heir and all that nonsense.”
“Conforming to what my father expects of me is to be avoided at all costs.” There was a seriousness in Chastain’s words that surprised her. It was at odds with his usual casual demeanor.
Iris couldn’t be sure at whom she felt angrier: her brother for suggesting a rakehell court her, or Lord Chastain for assuming she would so easily fall prey to his dubious charms. Her brother’s friend labored under the impression his handsome face outweighed his conceit.
“You need only distract my sister from her attachment to Sir Thomas Childs, a young man I deem objectionable. You did accept my invitation to stay at Marcourt for the next seven days; more than enough time for you to turn Iris’s head.”
At the mention of Sir Thomas, Iris slapped a hand over her mouth to suppress a laugh. It would not do to alert the gentlemen to her presence outside the room. Although she admired Sir Thomas’s keen intellect and they shared a love of antiquities, she did not harbor any of the finer feelings for their neighbor.
“A sennight isn’t long enough to win a woman’s heart,” Peake said. “It can’t be done, Chastain.”
The soft chuckle which raised goosebumps along her arms came from Chastain. “You should have more faith in me, my friend.”
“There is a way you can earn our faith,” Ambrose replied. “We shall wager on it.”
“Aren’t you afraid I might break your sister’s heart?” Chastain asked.
Iris snorted softly as she concentrated on the man’s pompous words rather than the tremors of awareness she felt whenever she heard his voice. Her ears pricked to hear her brother’s response.
“Better her heart is bruised for a short time than I have a fortune seeking baronet for a brother-in-law. Once she is well and truly enamored of you, gently shake her off. I will find her a suitable husband in my own good time.”
Iris was both alarmed and confused by her brother’s cavalier reply to Chastain. Although he had not seemed himself of late, did Ambrose really care so little for her feelings?
“If it were Lottie’s head I needed to turn it would be a far pleasanter task,” Chastain rejoined. “She endeavors to be pleasant to all.”
“The girl is too gay,” Peake said, his voice stern. “Lottie is a pretty girl, but quite the opposite in temperament to her older sister. Iris has more sense than most men I know. She will never succumb to your charm.”
Ambrose chuckled. “My sisters are like any other women: highly susceptible to a man’s flattery.”
Iris could bear no more. She hurried away down the corridor, headed for the conservatory in the east wing of the house. Perhaps Lottie might have an opinion on Ambrose’s strange behavior.
Chastain and Peake, both viscounts, arrived at Marcourt the day before. Ambrose had never invited his friends for a visit to the family seat in Norfolk. Their youngest sister Rose asked Chastain about it over dinner last evening.
“You ask why your brother has never seen fit to have his friends at Marcourt,” Chastain repeated Rose’s question, his eyes on Ambrose. “I do believe he thinks Peake and I are unsuitable company for well-bred young ladies.”
Her brother frowned from his place at the head of the table. “I preferred to keep my family life and social life separate.”
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Angelina Jameson is a multi-published author of historical Regency romance. Growing up in Las Vegas, Nevada, Angelina joined the US Air Force to see the world. Dreams of visiting the United Kingdom were fulfilled when she was stationed at RAF Lakenheath in the beautiful countryside of Suffolk, England. Five years later she returned to the states having acquired a love of not only all things British but also Regency and historical romance.
With the help of Romance Writers of America, the hobby of writing developed into a dream of sharing her stories with others. Angelina currently lives in the great state of Alaska with her supportive husband and two teenage sons. She loves to write with a steady supply of coffee nearby and one of three cats on her lap.
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