As the Black Raven, she's cold, distant and alone…untouched by the gossip and scorn of her aristocratic peers. Until he enters her house — and her life — then suddenly her icy shell is no match for the heat of attraction...
Notorious Widow Lisbeth Carslake, Countess of Blackhurst was acquitted of her husband's murder, but no one believes in her innocence. Known as the Black Raven, bringer of bad luck and death, she is eviscerated by the gossips and mocked in the clubs.
She's also the subject of London's most scandalous wager.
Oliver Whitely, Earl of Bellamy, needs money, but it takes more than a few drinks to take on The Black Raven Wager. He finds himself drunk, at her house, and—more surprisingly—agreeing to a business proposal at the end of a fire poker.
She will let him win the wager, and he will help find her husband's killer before the killer finds her. But business agreements don't mean trust, and Lisbeth certainly doesn't trust Oliver, her body's reaction to him, or her heart.
Love may be the biggest gamble of their lives, but is it a wager their hearts can afford to lose?
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A good read... nasty characters, a mystery, a determined heroine, and a kind hero with funny banter.
Lisbeth Carslake is the widowed Countess of Blackhurst, infamously and unkindly known as the Black Raven (“the bringer of bad luck and death”). She is vulnerable yet she displays an inner strength and fortitude that has seen her weather the scandal of her husband Nathaniel’s murder. She was accused and acquitted by the courts but, after two years of ostracization, she is isolated beyond belief. She has lived in the shadow of the scandal with bad memories of her terrifying marriage. But she decides to change her life for the better when she determines to find the identity of the killer so that she can clear her good name and live her own life free of scandal and debilitating sadness. Her domestic life is comfortable financially, due to the questionable financial speculations Nathaniel was involved in, and she has the support of her loyal servants, Rollands, her faithful butler and his wife, the housekeeper. I like the way that Cassandra Samuels depicts the depth of Lisbeth’s painful psyche. I felt for her but don’t feel sorry for her and I admire her resolve to make her life better. Oliver Whitely is the new Earl of Bellamy, upon the tragic death of his older brother, Henry. He is a war veteran, having served in Wellington’s army. He is also seriously in debt as his brother bankrupted the family’s finances. He is a gentleman trying to hide his need for blunt with a amiable, devil-may-care attitude that is refreshing and amusing. The novel opens with a momentous meeting with Lisbeth and collecting on a handsome wager that no one else has been able to achieve. Lisbeth has a plan and proposes an arrangement to Oliver. She will permit him to collect on the many unsavory and outlandish wagers surrounding her if he will escort her to ton events so that she can properly re-enter society after a two year absence. Of course, the ton quickly assumes she and Oliver are lovers especially since Lisbeth is a widow, something that Oliver doesn’t deny and that humorously shocks Lisbeth. But as Lisbeth spends more time with Oliver, getting to know him, he becomes protective of her and soon discovers her real motive: to find her husband’s killer. She wanted to kick him for being so…him. Her reactions to him were strange and varied. One moment she felt safe with him and the next she was all too aware of him and the danger he presented to her. The rest of the time she just wanted to push him off a cliff. Oliver is attracted to Lisbeth from the start while she takes a little longer to warm to his teasing, affectionate, and playful nature. Some of the best dialogue in the book is their witty, sometimes biting, and flirtatious banter. She wears the cloak of the strong, serious, and indomitable Black Raven, but Oliver sees through to the friendless and sad woman underneath and he greatly respects her. He also enjoys shocking her with wicked comments and innuendo. But as he learns more about her past, he finds he also wants to love and protect this woman from any danger or unhappiness ever again. Oliver fully intends to collect on the many wagers about Lisbeth to regain his financial footing, but then he is approached by Anthony Ashton, an old army friend who is now in government work. Anthony wants Oliver to glean information about Lisbeth and her late husband’s speculations. For the rest of this review: http://bit.ly/1O1Dsbp
The Ton calls her the Black Raven, but do they know what the Countess of Blackhurst went through before her husband’s mysterious murder? On the outside, ice runs through her veins, but what is happening to the hot-blooded woman within? Lisbeth has become a pariah, even though she was innocent of her husband’s death and his shady dealings. Now she has become the object of a cruel wager, set forth by the irresponsible and wealthy “men” of London. The Earl of Bellamy has just ascended to his title after the death of his brother, only to find the family fortunes are gone. Oliver, an unknowing pawn of the infamous wager sees a way to gain some coin to pay his bills without London’s Society learning of his predicament. He is to gain entry into the Black Raven’s home and actually speak with her. What happens becomes a game of who’s fooling who and the stakes are getting high as she bargains with him to become her escort for the season. Little did they know they were playing with fire as her reasons are revealed and their business arrangement takes on a much more personal note. A Scandalous Wager by Cassandra Samuels is NOT your ordinary, cookie cutter historical romance among London’s High Society wagging tongues. One crass wager, two people with their own secret needs, some intrigue, some heartache and oh, let’s not forget the brilliant banter between Lisbeth and Oliver! Fast-paced, wicked clever and one of the best historical romances I have read. There is a unique feel to A Scandalous Wager, is it the light tone it often resonates between the stuffiness of the Ton? Could it be the sheer audacity of Oliver to find rakish humor and want upon seeing Lisbeth’s wrath? Maybe it’s the intelligence and grit of Lisbeth that does it. Whatever it is, Cassandra Samuels has put some spark into this historical romance that ignites in passion, love and brilliant adventures for two outcasts, proving that when you least expect it, anyone can find love!
Dark and fascinating historical romance to discover! A Scandalous Wager is a dark romantic story written by new to me author Cassandra Samuels! I love stories with tormented souls, such as the heroine in this story. It tells the story of widow Lisbeth Carslake, AKA the Black Raven and Oliver Whitely, Earl of Bellamy. Since the death of her husband, she needs to prove her innocence if she wants to find peace and move on with her life. In need of money, Oliver, will accept a wager that will send him directly to the Black Raven's home. But instead, Lisbeth will offer him another deal, by helping her, to find the person responsible for the death of her late husband. Will she trust him, enough to offer him her heart too? The story is well written with a well developed plot. Betrayal, lies, trust and romance makes A Scandalous Wager interesting to read!