Once Upon a Wager

Once Upon a Wager

4.3 22
by Julie Lemense

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When Lord Alec Carstairs returns from the Peninsular Wars, hailed as a hero in the midst of the London Season, only Annabelle Layton knows the sort of man that he really is, that the honor everyone praises is illusory.

They'd been close friends once, before a passionate kiss changed everything. But if she'd secretly loved him, those feelings had died one bright


When Lord Alec Carstairs returns from the Peninsular Wars, hailed as a hero in the midst of the London Season, only Annabelle Layton knows the sort of man that he really is, that the honor everyone praises is illusory.

They'd been close friends once, before a passionate kiss changed everything. But if she'd secretly loved him, those feelings had died one bright summer morning, when a reckless wager left Annabelle with terrifying injuries. Alec had abandoned her without a backwards glance.

Hardly the actions of a hero.

But Alec has never forgotten her, despite his vow to stay away. There is more to that long-ago day than Annabelle knows, and shocking lies have distorted the past. Can he uncover its painful truths, and still keep his distance from the stunning beauty? Can he deny his forbidden desire, even as it flares again between them, hotter than ever?

Sensuality Level: Sensual

Product Details

F+W Media
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.62(d)

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Once Upon a Wager 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
booknerdDS More than 1 year ago
I love when a book lives up to the expectations I set! "Once Upon a Wager" by Julie Lemense did not disappoint. First, I loved the cover and I thought it fit the elegance of the heroine and the time period. Second I loved both the hero and the heroine and their perfect imperfections. Lord Alec Carstairs and Annabelle Layton grew up as childhood friends (which I love). The whole insta-lust that takes over a romance novel doesn't play out as well, in my opinion. I loved the emotion behind both Alec and Annabelle and the feelings that they fought. They both had a lot of growing up to do and a lot of issues to resolved. I thought the writing was great and the story played out very well. I definitely recommend this sweet and well-written historical romance.
jojoNE More than 1 year ago
As a fan of the Regency period I was immediately drawn to this story and the masterful storytelling by its debut author.Ms. LeMense has crafted an engaging and emotional story full of dramatic twists and turns courtesy of a truly dastardly villain and manipulative and overbearing parents.Readers get a vivid depiction of this era and its devotion to proper behavior as well as a realistic and sensitive handling of issues such as the psychological aftermath of war, disability, and mental illness to further pull you into the story.Add in a multifaceted hero and heroine and a slew of memorable secondary characters and you end up with a delightful work of art. Annabelle isn't your typical heroine in that she's spunky and not afraid to speak her mind.She's been in love with Alec since they were young and has tried to get him to see her as more than a child.He's been purposely staying away though after catching her frolicking in a fountain.With her brother Gareth's upcoming birthday she sets out to show Alec the woman she's become, but things go horribly awry leaving her gravely injured and Alec's honor sending him to war with a guilty heart caused by her bitter mother and Gareth's despicable and manipulative friend Digby.Annabelle is merely a pawn through all this, believing the lies her mother tells her at the hands of Digby who desires her and seeks to bring her brother to ruin.These events lead her to harden her heart and not wanting to reunite with Alec once he returns, but fate and her Aunt Sophia have other plans with Annabelle's debut into society hinging on his help.Annabelle is an admirable heroine put through the emotional wringer who has come out of it stronger if slightly disillusioned.With Aunt Sophia pushing her to embrace her wild side once again will she finally get the man she's always wanted or will past hurts and his honor continue to keep them apart? Alec has had honor and obligation drummed into him since he was a child by a rather cold and calculating father. His father's plans for him definitely don't include Annabelle or her lazy and silly brother Gareth but her heartfelt letter about their weakening friendship have him attending Gareth's birthday party where events throw his life into complete disarray.Just as he started seeing Annabelle as someone important to him he's pulled away from her by a promise to her mother that destroys their relationship before it barely began.Alec is a quiet man who lets his actions do the talking.He lets honor override common sense sometimes which creates a lot of unnecessary emotional conflict between him and Annabelle but I still found myself drawn to him as he always tried to do the right thing, as he saw it, with the outcomes not always successful.His interactions with Annabelle were full of sexual tension as he started seeing her as a grown-up on the market for a husband.He may not always be the perfect hero but he tried and considering the importance his father placed on appearances he showed his affection the best he could though it was oftentimes subtle. As truths are slowly revealed and past hurts worked through these two reconnect as adults in a romance that is sweetly sensual and bittersweet for all the time wasted even as their journey continues to be rocky.Along with a strong main couple there were a few secondary characters that stood out and made for an overall compelling story that leaves me impressed by Ms. LeMense's talent and excited for her next release.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Loved the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great historical story. I enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great story - well written and entertaining to read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was good...I just wish they had more than 1 love scene that was ok...I like romance books to have romance...it was lacking in the romance department...but a good light read..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hero is friends w/ heroine since childhood. They grow up. They discover mutual attraction. He feels guilt about the attraction. Then an incident occurs over which he develops more guilt. Mother bans him from home. Years pass. They meet again. Sweet story. Predictable. But comfortable. Like a good plate of comfort food.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this very much
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the story from the very begining. The boom had a little of everything and i loved the characters...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story with intriguing characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very likable characters and good story line. I hope she keeps going
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PureJonel More than 1 year ago
This is the best type of historical romance.  LeMense takes her readers back in time in a most accurate & catching manner, rather than simply writing a modern story with an old date attached to it.  The writing and the tone of the story match perfectly with the time period in question.  I appreciate the fact that she didn’t jump right into said time period, but rather took the time to develop it.  The story itself took me a bit to get into while the author set the tone & scene of the story.  That said, once I was drawn in I could barely put the novel down.  LeMense’s descriptions bring this story to life in vivid clarity.  Her solid storyline kept me coming back for more.  She is a brilliant storyteller, having me in fits of laughter and bouts of tears in turn.   LeMense develops the type of characters that you can easily picture.  The major players in this story are solidly developed.  One does not find holes in their development.  More than once I found myself imagining being in the main character’s shoes.  As much as I loved her, I regularly found myself wanting to yell at her, to exclaim that if she’d just listen…   Overall, this was a captivating novel that drew me back in time.  It was a brilliant introduction to this author’s work that has me wanting to read more.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others.  Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Becky_Lower More than 1 year ago
It's hard to believe this is Julie LeMense's first book. It has everything a good historical romance should have--likable characters, intrigue, twists and turns, a dastardly villain, love conquering all. What I most liked about the book, though, was the attention to history. The little touches, such as the colors of the gowns, the male peacocks in full regalia, the furniture in the rooms, the battles, all made this book come to life. It's one thing to set a book in a historic era, it's another to dive into it, to have your characters actually act and react to actual events that happened in the time frame you're writing in. Well done, Ms. LeMense!
WorldsCollide More than 1 year ago
With sweet romance and tons of secrets, Once Upon a Wager was a lovely historical romance. I really liked this wonderful book and definitely enjoyed reading it. Annabelle was a great heroine. She had been hurt badly in the past and was determined that it didn't happen again. For the first part of the book, I was annoyed with her for judging Alec on one action when she had known him for so long. But, after finding out the true extent of the deception meant to keep her at odds with him, I truly couldn't blame her. In the end, she turned out to be a strong, likable character. Alec was wonderful. He was very sweet and an extremely honorable man, despite how the circumstances made him seem. I can't say too much without giving things away, but he was a fantastic hero. The romance was lovely. Annabelle and Alec were perfect for each other, but had been split apart by other people's bitterness. Even then, their feelings couldn't be totally denied. They definitely had some heat between them as well, but they were a mostly sweet couple. I thought they were great together. The plot was well paced and I was kept interested the entire way through. There were a few surprises along the way, as secrets were revealed. I really enjoyed the story and the ending was lovely. Once Upon a Wager was a fantastic historical romance. I really enjoyed reading this delight of a book. Romance lovers, this is a book worth checking out. *I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Meg_R More than 1 year ago
Julie LeMense is a terrifically talented writer! Her characters come alive in the pages. If you're like me, you won't be able to put it down until you've read the whole thing. Can't wait to read the next one (please say there is a next one)!