Introducing her new series The Matchmakers, author Candace Camp reminds readers why the Regency period is such a popular romantic setting. The glittering parties, the dashing men, and the elegant women all provide an unmatched location for love. Come now into the ballroom and meet the characters in The Marriage Wager.
Lady Francesca Haughston is the epitome of elegance and style. A reigning beauty even after she married, the widow continues to be invited to all of the best parties. No one looks beyond her beauty to see the desperation. Nearly penniless, her skillful maid recycles every gown into new creations to be worn over and over. She has had modest success in sponsoring awkward young ladies through their Seasons, and grateful parents always want to present her with tokens of appreciation. This secret income is all that keeps a roof over her head.
Her male counterpart is Sinclair, fifth Duke of Rochford, whose saturnine good looks are equaled by his title, wealth and determination to remain unattached. The target of matchmaking mamas across England, he continues to foil their efforts. He does enjoy flustering Lady Haughston though, as he discusses her reputation as a society matchmaker. In fact, he enjoys it so much, that he goads her into a wager. She boasts that she can take any young duckling at the party and present a swan to the ton, complete with an engagement by the end of the Season.
Miss Constance Woodley is dreading the Season. Since her fatherís illness and subsequent death foiled her own debut, Constance is in attendance as a chaperone for her cousins. Relegated to poor relation, she lives with her uncle and his family as a kind of unpaid servant. She is astonished when Lady Houghston approaches her with the intention of giving her a season to remember. But what will her family think? Would any gentlemen be interested in an impoverished daughter of a minor nobleman?
The Marriage Wager, while not a very original plot, shines with skillful writing. Ms. Camp knows how to make a story memorable. The characters are endearing and promise a few more stories to come. Constanceís romance with the very unlikely Viscount Leighton, Francescaís brother, is heart-warming.