Annabel Lake proposes a wager. If she wins their card game, he must help save her family’s foundering brewery. But if he wins, she must spend a night in his bed. The outcome sets off a chain of events that threatens to destroy all his plans . . . and unveils the secret Annabel has held for so long. When Jarret discovers the darker reason behind her wager, he forces her into another one—and this time he intends to win not just her body, but her heart.
Type: Historical Romance, England
Heat: 3 out of 5
Rating: 5 out of 5
Alright, I've been completely won over. Books 3, 4 and 5 have already been purchased. I love this family. I really enjoyed A Hellion in Her Bed and am glad I kept going with the series even though this one had some less than encouraging reviews. There wasn't all that much in the way of the plot. Annabel is fighting to save her family's brewery and has to convince Jarret, no matter what it takes, that it would be beneficial to his brewery if they joined forces and worked together. It all comes down to a card game that the gambler in Jarret just can't resist. If she wins he'll help her family. If he wins he gets her. Not all that complex or exciting, right? Well, maybe a little bit exciting. I didn't mind the lack of plot all that much because the character interactions more than made up for it and kept things interesting. Lord Jarret and Annabel were a fun couple. I loved their wit and played how they played off of each other from the very beginning.
He gaped at her. "But that would make you--"
"Nearly thirty, yes. I'm afraid I'm rather long in the tooth."
He snorted. "You're annoying as the very devil, and one of the mouthiest damned females I've ever met, but not remotely long in the tooth."
Annabel is a fantastic heroine and perfect match for Jarret. Bold, determined, has a very quick tongue and humor, not willing to back down from any challenge whether its serious or something silly (like petting a pet alligator at the market). Early on you also find out that she's not the innocent lady everyone sees and that for 13 years she's hidden the fact that her nephew is really her son. Pretty shocking for that day and age. There are some just gut wrenching moments when she's talking not being able to be her son's mother or about her fear of finally telling him the truth. Definitely have a good bit of respect for a woman who could go through so much heartache for so many years and still have a positive outlook on life and have a sense of humor.
I had a bit of a soft spot for Jarret after the glimpse into his childhood soon after his parents' deaths. The confusion, fear and emotional pain he went through when his life changed so drastically and how he ended up a gambling hellion who shied away from responsibility. Some of my favorite parts were when Jarret and George, Annabel's son, were interacting. For the first time in years George had a man to look up to and that was guiding him, treating him like a man even though he was still just a young boy. Was just sweet to see and I just love a hero that is good with kids! I also like to actually see them growing as a person and Jarret definitely lived up to expectations and made some remarkable changes throughout the book."Very well," he said. "We'll play for the stakes agreed upon."To his surprise, relief crossed her pretty features. "Thank you." Sudden mischief glinted in her eyes. "I promise not to beat you too badly. I wouldn't wish to embarrass you before your friends."A laugh erupted from him despite everything. God, she was a piece of work.
One of the things I did find a little disappointing was that throughout the book we hardly get to see Gran or any of Jarret's siblings since most of the events occurred in Annabel's town outside of London. The interactions between the siblings and Gran were part of what made book one so entertaining. Even without them, though, there were still some hysterical family moments with the new characters that had me nearly in tears laughing so hard. I love a hero that isn't perfect and will put it all out there for everyone to see or, well, in the case of one of my favorite moments, hear.
"Fine," he said. "But you'll regret it."
Rising to his feet, he made a production of clearing his throat and uttering noises like the ones he'd seen professional singers make. Then he launched into the only children's song he could think of: "Hot Cross Buns."
At the first notes, the children gaped at him as if someone in the room had just farted. Even
Annabel blinked, and Mrs. Lake looked downright stunned.
He plowed on with great enthusiasm anyway. It wasn't as if he hadn't warned them, and he hadn't been allowed to sing to anyone since his family had first discovered his deficit.
Fortunately, "Hot Cross Buns" was short, so he only had to torture them for a minute or two.
When he was done, a tense silence fell upon the room. Then Annabel said, eyes twinkling,
"That has to be the worst rendition of 'Hot Cross Buns' I have ever heard."
"Annabel!" Mrs. Lake said.
"Trust me, I'm not offended," he told her with a smug smile. "I know my limitations."
"Your singing is like cats fighting," George ventured.
"More like cats screaming, or so I've been told," Jarret said. "Gabe claims I sound like a fiddle that has been stomped on."
"Or a flute with a walnut in it," one of the children supplied.
"Do it again!" Katie cried. "I liked it!"
Astonished, Jarret knelt to stare into her face. "You like it, moppet?" He glanced at Mrs. Lake.
"You neglected to tell me, madam, that insanity runs in your family."
The others laughed, but Katie wouldn't be put off. "I don't know what 'sanity' means, sir, but your singing reminds me of the owl that screeches outside the nursery every night. I like owls Can you sing another?"
Jarret laughed and chucked her under the chin. "Sorry, dear girl, but your parents would have me tarred and feathered."
She clapped her hands. "That sounds like fun, too!"We do get a little of Gran towards the end and I'm finding myself loving her more and more. She's such a hoot and so often she goes against what you'd expect and ignores what so many would see as unacceptable scandal. She doesn't care if things are messy or if society will find the mates her family pick as suitable and proper. She wants them to be happy and in love even if it's with a saucy American or someone with a child and a past. Kinda warms your heart. I love that you never really know what will come out of her mouth or what she'll do. Foul, shocking language or , well, just flat out non-grannylike behavior.
The look on Jarret's face was almost comical. "Pinter and Gabe are here, too? Good God, please tell me you didn't bring Gran along."
"She wanted to come, but Dr. Wright forbade it. So I've been instructed to give you a message from her." She promptly swatted Jarret's hand with her fan.
"Ow!" He rubbed his hand. "What the hell was that for?"
"I told you--a message from Gran. She wants you home."I had a great time with this book and can't wait to read more about this family. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of Jackson Pinter, the Bow Street Runner working for the family. I'll probably be damn near squealing by book 5 when we get to his story. I love his dry humor. He might not jump into the conversations too often but when he does I just love it! I'm also really looking forward to finding more information out about the family's past and the events that shaped all of Halstead Hall's Hellions. I like how we get just a little more information with each book about what really happened so many years ago. It's a nice connector from book to book and has me curious. And off to scoop up book 3!