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Viscount’s Wager by Ava March
I was really excited for this book. I’d read the previous two books in the series and they had both teased at this story, so I knew I definitely wanted to read it. So I was thrilled to get an ARC. I’m a big Ava March fan‐ her books don’t necessarily change my life, but her writing is lovely and easy to slip into, she creates unique and interesting characters, and I like the historical setting she uses and the stories she places in that setting. So I had pretty high expectations for this book.
And I liked it. The story starts with Anthony, age sixteen, who’s fallen in love with another boy, Gabriel. The two kiss, and it feels special to Anthony, but the next day, he sees Gabriel kissing a girl. A scandal ensues and Gabriel ends up marrying the girl and moving away. Fast forward seven years, and Gabriel’s wife has died. He ends up back in London, where he bumps into Anthony. Anthony feels a bit betrayed by Gabriel, but he’s still infatuated with him, and the two begin a relationship. Gabriel feels guilty over his frigid marriage and how he hurt Anthony, though, and he begins a bad gambling habit which lands him in some hot water.
It’s a good premise. And, like Ava March’s other books, the story is easy to fall right into and begin enjoying immediately. I also really enjoyed Gabriel and Anthony‐ they felt like real, live people with real issues and problems and feelings. But I found the plot… a bit predictable. I felt like I’d read it before, and not just in any other books, but in Ava March’s books. Obviously, it’s not the same as her other plots, but it had elements‐ the gambling, the leaving and coming back to a relationship, the misunderstandings, the financial worries‐ that just felt a bit too familiar. I think that maybe, if this had been one of the first Ava March books I’d read (and I think this could be read as a standalone, which is excellent) I would have been more enthusiastic about the plot. But it wasn’t‐ it was the sixth, and it just didn’t hold my attention as much as I wanted it to.
I also wasn’t really sure if I believed in Gabriel’s feelings for Anthony. He was guilty and moody all the time, which felt right, but he seemed a bit stiff, and I wasn’t exactly sure why he was so in love with Anthony. At the same time, I wanted Anthony to be angrier at Gabriel. He’d hurt him, badly, but Anthony never really asks for an apology or explanation. He simply lets Gabriel back into his life and almost doesn’t think twice about it. That just didn’t sit right with me. And it seemed to take a lot of the tension out of the book. Also, since I’d read the previous books, I had a good idea of exactly what problems Gabriel was getting into, and that removed a lot of the mystery and tension that could have made the plot more exciting, too.
Also, by the end, Gabriel and Anthony’s personalities get so cheesy it’s almost hard to believe. The mush factor was just… It made me cringe a little. And I wasn’t sure if it was believable.
So… I’m not really sure how I felt about this. I liked it, I really did. It was completely enjoyable and a fun, sweet read. But it did leave me wishing that there had been a bit… more. More substance, more tension, a plot that didn’t feel quite so familiar. A relationship that was built on… something a tiny bit more tangible. And I kind of wanted more information on Gabriel’s feelings for his dead wife. They weren’t in love, but they lived together for seven years and he didn’t seem really that concerned with her being dead and gone.
I was happy to read this. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable book and well worth reading. And I still look forward to reading anything Ava March writes. But I hope she picks up a slightly newer, more refreshing plot next time.
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