REVIEW: A Holiday Gamble by Jane Feather
An unexpected guest arrives at a regency house party in a blizzard and meets the woman he can’t wait to marry, if he can get her away from her betrothed and her guardian in time.
A Holiday Gamble by Jane Feather
Category: Regency Era Historical
Publisher: Pocket Star (November 17, 2014)
Rated 3.5 out of 5
Edward “Ned” Vasey, Viscount Allenton, is anxious to arrive where he is expected, but a snowstorm forces him to seek shelter elsewhere in Northumberland unannounced. Having spent the last ten years in India making his fortune as the black sheep of the family, he is returning to his childhood home with great misgivings as the only living heir after his elder brother dies in a riding accident. Ned has resigned himself to making good on a promise to marry his neighbor, Sarah Hartley, who he believes has waited for him since he was sent off to India as punishment for his misdeed.
Viscount Allenton is greeted by Lord Selby and given shelter amongst other guests being entertained for the holiday. This household is filled with about twenty unsavory miscreants, except for Selby’s mysterious ward and cousin, Lady Georgiana “Georgie” Carey. After her parents’ death, Georgiana was cared for by her aunt until she died and Georgiana became Selby’s ward. Also in attendance is Godfrey Belton, Georgiana’s obnoxious betrothed.
As Ned socializes with the guests, forced by the weather to stay at the house party for several days, he realizes something is amiss with Georgie and he’s certain it has something to do with what has been rumored as Lord Selby’s not-so-admirable pursuits. Viscount Allenton is intrigued with Georgie, not just for her beauty but also her mind. It doesn’t take him long to realize that Georgie is most uncomfortable in this household and even more so around her fiancé.
My favorite regencies are those that feature a house party. Initially, I was pulled right into this story. Viscount Allenton is a keen observer and his insights add flare to this story. His mannerisms and curious nature really made the story come alive for me. The layered mystery and subtle dishonesty of the party guests reminded me of the atmosphere of a good pirate adventure or a gothic romance. I love that eerie, what’s going to happen next, feeling in a story where the house seems to be a living, breathing character with hidden storage compartments and secret passageways, as well as boasting interesting servants who add to the intrigue.
In the end, I’m not sure how I feel about this short story. I really enjoyed most of it but the end was anticlimactic and it didn’t meet my expectations. I anticipated something more sinister to add to the mystery, as well as ramp up this couple’s conflict, so when that didn’t happen, it seemed as if the end came too soon and too easy. The tension built was excellent but I needed a bit more at the end. That said, I feel that the imagery was first-rate and I enjoyed the pacing very much up until the last few pages. Isn’t that the case with well-written short stories sometimes, though? We’re left wanting more because we’ve become emotionally invested and feel that we don’t have enough time with the characters. This being my first taste of Jane Feather’s storytelling skills, I’m intrigued, and look forward to reading a full size novel in the future.
Reviewed by Dorine, courtesy of Romance Junkies. ebook provided by NetGalley.
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What’s on your TBR Mountain Range? Do you enjoy stories that take place at a regency house party? What do you like best about them?