ARC Review: The Wager of a Lady by Kathleen Ayers

Title: The Wager of a Lady

Series: The Beautiful Barringtons #4

Author: Kathleen Ayers

Genre: Historical Romance


A notorious bastard of a duke. Leo Murphy believes in playing the odds, as long as the house wins. As the owner of Elysium, London’s most exclusive gambling hell, Leo’s existence depends on predicting his opponent’s next move. Rarely is he surprised. Until he meets the young bride of Lord Masterson losing at cards. Georgina is beautiful, intelligent, possessed of a razor-sharp wit and a rebellious nature. She is completely unexpected. Leo is so struck by Georgina he doesn’t know whether to bed her or befriend her. He decides to do both. A rebellious young American. Wed to the scandalous and elderly Lord Masterson, Georgina detests London. Mocked for her accent and her family’s pedigree, she wants nothing more than to return to New York. When the wickedly attractive Leo Murphy offers to teach her how to play cards, she assumes he merely wishes to admire her bosom. She’s half in love with him before the evening ends. A wager that ruins them both. One unforgettable night with Leo leaves Georgina compromised in both heart and body. Now she’s keeping secrets from everyone, especially from Leo. Will he forgive her? Or let Georgina go forever?


This is the fourth book in the Beautiful Barringtons series, and it follows Leo Murphy, bastard son of Duke of Averell and Georgina, an American forced to go to England and marry an old lord as penance for her behaviour back home in New York.

I was already very intrigued by Leo from the scenes we get in the previous book, so I was very excited for this one and it did not disappoint! Leo is the owner of a gambling hell called Elysium and a lot of the book Is set within this establishment which I really enjoyed. It was so fun to have this as a setting and it fitted Georgina so well. Georgina is not your average society girl, she is bold, daring and pushes against society rules and decorum at every opportunity and I loved her! Her daring necklines and outspoken personality were so entertaining, and I couldn’t help but adore her.

Not to be outmatched Leo was an excellent character, from his hideous waist coats to his fear of water he was always entertaining and felt like such a real well-rounded character. He always puts himself forward as the bastard everyone knows he is before they can look down on him, he holds a lot of pain from his past but slowly he works through this when he learns of some very unexpected news.

The story has several time jumps as the relationship of Leo and Georgina is a slow burn over several years. I really liked the way the author did this as it allowed us to experience their first meeting from both POV’s but didn’t drag us through the years of slow burn. I loved the tension between them and that we got a very steamy romantic interlude at the relative start of the story. The angst and miscommunication after this event were frustrating but in a good way! I enjoyed seeing how they reacted and how Georgina handled everything.

Since Georgina is American, the story moves over to New York and I actually really like the change of setting. It was so interesting seeing how the society worked there and how Georgina and her family fitted into it. I enjoyed the additions of Ben Cooke and Lilian to the story, and I think having her family introduced and made such an integral part of the story once she reached America really deepened the story. I loved all the side characters and the different roles they played.

The plot was excellent and really captured my attention. There was always a current a tension around some of the characters and whilst I knew something would go wrong, I never could have guessed how far the characters would go and how dangerous the situation would get! This aspect was so compelling, and I loved how the author it all built up.

This book really took me by surprise, and I devoured it in one day. I loved everything about it - the characters, the settings, the plot, the romance! It is definitely one of my favourite historical romance reads, Ayers really outdid herself with this one.

Rating: 5 Stars

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