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Viscount's Wager (Ava March)

Viscount's Wager - Ava March

Viscount's Wager is the third (and I assumed the last) book in Ava March's "Gambling in Love" series. Consider that I truly have bad memory about details, I honestly didn't remember much about the previous two books. However, I had no problem at all being immersed to the love story between Anthony Hawkins, the Viscount Rawling, and Lord Gabriel Tilden.

Seven years ago, Anthony and Gabriel shared their first intimate kiss. Anthony, only sixteen at that time, compared to Gabriel's eighteen, have been having deep crush over the older young man and that kiss just gave him flourishing hope. Until the very next day, Anthony heard about Gabriel engagement and the news broke his heart. Now, Gabriel returns to London, recently widowed, and Anthony is determined to introduce Gabriel to the pleasure of the city as well as the possibility to reignite the fire of attraction between them.

Despite being the younger man, I couldn't help admiring Anthony's stance towards life. I loved that Anthony was unabashed about his preference towards men -- oh, he doesn't prance on it, but Anthony makes up his mind from early on that women doesn't make him happy so that he will not get married in pretense. I loved Anthony's certainty about being with Gabriel and his willingness to chase that dream (now that Gabriel is widowed). As a character, Anthony won my heart from the very get go. Even after his heart was broken by Gabriel, he doesn't hold a grudge or drowning in sorrow. He's an admirable man in my eyes.

Gabriel, on the other hand, was a bit harder for me to empathize. Gabriel has that 'deep denial and guilt' that eats him from the inside, which sort of making him more cowardly compared to Anthony. His idea of penance, his idea of staying away from Anthony because he hurt Anthony deeply just didn't impress me much. Especially because he knows at heart that all Anthony wants is for them to be together. It's a screwed up way of thinking and I'm always a bit impatient for characters like that. Luckily, Gabriel finally steps up and admits his mistake, and it doesn't take the last chapter for him to do so. I definitely approved :).

There are other issues that plays their hand in Anthony and Gabriel's relationship,

[i.e. Gabriel's gambling addiction and Anthony's struggle to read (these days, Anthony will definitely be diagnosed with dyslexia)]

(show spoiler)

. The first becomes the vehicle to strengthen Anthony and Gabriel's bond, while the later gives a solution for them to be together. I thought both were incorporated to the story very well.

When it comes to the chemistry and sexuality, well, hats off to Ava March. She sure knows how to write them down!! I will admit that I'm not always in favor of reading sex scenes. Probably influenced by my asexuality, I always demand romance, and for me that doesn't necessarily translated into sex. Sex scenes for me should feel rewarding, should be integral to the love affair as a whole, and not written just for the sake of being written.

In this book, I thought Anthony and Gabriel had a deep honest passion towards one another and the sexuality was simmering bright. Gabriel is a virgin when it comes to sex with men, and when Anthony, the younger one in the relationship, becomes the teacher, wow, it was sensual, it was beautiful, it gave me tingles!! Their sex scenes were wonderful -- even if I ended up skimming some of them in the end (that was on me, NOT the book).

By the way, fans of March will be delighted to see cameos from previous books, Max Arrington, Duke of Pelham and Tristan Walsh (All In with the Duke), Jack Morgan and William Drake (Sharp Love), as well as small scenes with Linus Radcliff and Robert Anderson (Rogues) as well as Alexander Norton and Thomas Bennett (My True Love Gave to Me). Considering the timeline and small circle of acquaintances between men who love men in that period of time, I thought this was a pleasant way to bring the characters together.

At more than 102,000 words, Viscount's Wager is Ava March's longest story to date -- and despite things that frustrated me, it is definitely a solid and satisfying regency romance. The happy ending in that epilogue is very convincing and it makes me very content.

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.