Katiebabs is a self-proclaimed present day bluestocking with her head always in a book. She runs her own book blog called Babbling about Books and More!
Ava March writes some of the best gay historical romance I’ve ever read. Her love scenes crackle with emotion and intensity, and she has a great skill at writing Regency romance. I loved the dynamic of the main couple in Viscount’s Wager (Gambling on Lover #3), how the younger man is more self assured and sexually experienced, including his patience with a man he has loved ever since he was a teenager.
At sixteen, Anthony developed a crush on his good friend’s older brother, Gabriel. When Gabriel recommends they take a dip in a lake because of the heat, Anthony accepts. Gabriel kisses him, and Anthony is in love, his head in the clouds, thinking he and Gabriel can be together. But later that night he catches Gabriel kissing a woman in the garden. Anthony is crushed, but moves on with his life. Gabriel ends up marrying the woman, and stays in the country. Anthony goes to London, where his mother and sister lives.
Seven years later, Gabriel has come to London to visit his married sister. Gabriel’s wife has recently died of a fever. When Anthony hears that Gabriel is in town, he’s excited, but will hide his feelings for Gabriel. He’s still hurt by the way Gabriel rejected him. But since he’s a gentleman, and will let bygones be bygones, he welcomes Gabriel, going out of his way to develop a friendship with Gabriel, even if nothing more comes of it. Gabriel is very different from the young man Anthony knew seven years ago. Gabriel is too stiff and formal, also very sad in his demeanor. Anthony slowly coaxes Gabriel out of his shell and wants him to loosen up. Gabriel does, and eventually he ends up at Anthony’s bachelor pad late at night. Anthony throws caution to the wind and kisses Gabriel. Gabriel succumbs and they become lovers. But Gabriel is always gone before dawn. Anthony doesn’t push because he knows this is a new thing for Gabriel. But Gabriel is chased by his guilt of his fake marriage and his feelings for Anthony. Gabriel turns to gambling to hide his pain. With that, he finds himself in dire straights that endanger his life.
Viscount’s Wager is a great example of what a Regency romance entails. Gabriel and Anthony are well written characters, and their passion and lust for one another is intense at times, specifically when they have sex. The chemistry is smoldering, and the love scenes won’t disappoint. Anthony is so understanding toward Gabriel. He wears his heart on his sleeve for this man who suffers in every which way.
The subplot with Gabriel’s gambling addiction added to the story in such a way I was invested because it made Anthony and Gabriel’s bond stronger. There were a few downsides, such as Gabriel’s wife, who is rarely mentioned. We don’t know what type of person she was. She’s a faceless character who is there just to add more of an emotional dimension. Also, Anthony is hiding a shameful secret that when revealed, I did a double take. It was tacked on to create more drama and tension. But the story shines when Anthony and Gabriel are together and at ease, especially during and after their lovemaking. The ending is very sweet and brings out the awww’s.
Viscount Wager is a solid romance that fans of regency romance, as well as gay historical romance, will want to read.