Title: Lord of Chance
Author: Erica Ridley
Series: Rogues to Riches #1
Price: $7.99 (paperback) $3.99 (e-book) $9.97 (Audible Audio)
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
I was recently given the opportunity to take part in a Blog Tour for the newest Erica Ridley novel, Lord of Chance, and as I've liked her books in the past, I decided to do it. The publisher quickly provided me with a whole folder full of goodies, so without further ado:
'Charlotte harrumphed to hide her amusement. “How are you at pressing wrinkles from gowns?”
“Let me assure you,” Mr. Fairfax informed her with utter seriousness, “that I have never worn a wrinkled gown in all my life.”
“Very gentlemanly.” She tried not to smile. “Let’s see your skill as maid-of-all-work, then. My gowns are in the wardrobe, as is my traveling iron. See what you can do.”
“At your service.” He bowed, then turned and marched to the wardrobe like a soldier off to war.
Now that he couldn’t see her, she let herself grin. The man was incorrigible… but she couldn’t help but find his frankness humanizing and his silliness refreshing. “You’re certain you know what you’re about with those gowns?”
“You will think my valet pressed them,” he called back in a tone filled with such portent that Charlotte half expected her muslins to be dotted with burns in the shape of smoothing irons.
It would almost be worth it, just to have this one night. This memory of a man above her station treating her as if she were above his. Of being an equal, rather than an object incapable of feelings or rights of her own. Of feeling… happy. She hugged herself in astonishment. When was the last time she’d felt safe enough and carefree enough to be happy?
She gazed wistfully at his strong back as he placed the iron in the fire. He smoothed out the first gown on the chaise longue before dampening the wrinkled material with water from the pitcher.
A man like this was even more dangerous than the sort who usually approached her, she realized in surprise. A man like this wouldn’t just take what he wanted. He’d make her want to give it to him of her own free will. Desire him. Long for his kisses. Plead for more.
She forced herself to look away.
No. She would not be like her mother. She had promised herself that the first time she’d seen her mother cry. Charlotte’s life would be different. She’d find a way to be respectable if it killed her.
Which meant keeping her distance from the tempting Mr. Fairfax. No matter what happened.'
* * * * * * * *
The ReviewHaving just finished Lord of Chance (LOC from this point on), I am slightly torn over how I am going to rate it. For what it was, it was good. I really liked both Charlotte and Anthony, but I feel like it is unfinished. One of my biggest pet peeves is a rushed ending and LOC falls prey to this. At just under 300 pages, this is a short book, but that doesn't always mean a rushed ending. Almost all of the FBI/US Attorney books by Julie James are under 300 pages and they have never felt unfinished to me. Unfortunately, LOC does. What astounds me is that according to Amazon this is an "Author's Edition" of a novella that appeared in a boxed set, so if this is the long version, I'm not sure if I even want to know what was in the original novella. How much was left out of that version that appeared in this one and why is the fleshed out version this short? I can't imagine how a shorter version could do justice to these characters or their story arcs.
That said, I did enjoy getting to know Charlotte and Anthony, although I do feel like I know more about Charlotte than Anthony. I have to say, however, that there are no two characters more perfect for each other than these two as no one could understand each other so well as they. No matter the differences of their births, they had more in common than either could know and what I rather liked about learning about Anthony alongside Charlotte was seeing her past through the lens of his experience. Granted we (nor she) truly know everything about Anthony's childhood, but we do know that he struggled as much as or more than Charlotte and her mother did, despite having been born into the aristocracy -- and that was something Charlotte needed to understand. To her, being born into her specific situation (which I will not spoil) was the worst thing that could have befallen her and to see other people had worse problems than she had, I think went a long way to helping her understand that respectability wasn't the be-all and end-all of existence. Anthony's family was much more respectable than Charlotte's and yet, his wasn't a happy childhood.
I was also impressed by how Ms. Ridley depicted Anthony's gambling addiction. When the book began with Anthony gambling to save himself from gaol, I was nervous, especially knowing the short length of the book, thinking that this would get the short shrift, and I am glad that I was wrong. Sure, more time could have been spent on it, I feel like it was dealt with maturely and deftly. I liked the fact that Ms. Ridley didn't immediately cure his addiction by having him marry Charlotte. While the marriage did precipitate his decision not the gamble, it did not miraculously stop him from being tempted by the lure of the dice.
Since we're on the subject, I have to talk about that marriage. I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly didn't know that in 19th Century Scottland all it took for a couple to be married was for them to declare themselves wed in front of witnesses. Apparently, the Scotts really are different -- so different that Anthony and Charlotte saying they were married meant that they were.
I know. I know. When I started reading and saw that this was how Charlotte and Anthony wound up married, I was skeptical, I took to Google and was astonished to find that it was a real thing that happened. It sounds fake, but according to the University of Glasgow, this was known as an 'irregular marriage' and it did in fact exist. As a long time romance reader, I knew about people eloping to Gretna Green, but I just figured they needed a Las Vegas for the aristocratic set. Apparently, Gretna Green was only the tip of the iceberg and that entire country was just odd. I have to wonder how many times this situation played out over the years. It boggles the mind.
Overall, I did enjoy living in Ms. Ridley's world for the short period of time it took me to read LOC, although I do wish that it was longer. Because I feel like it should have been expanded more than it was, I cannot give it a perfect 5 stars, but based on its own merits, it succeeded, surpassing my expectations of it.