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The Duke's Wager (Bessacarr, #1)
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The Duke's Wager (Bessacarr #1)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  379 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Regina Berryman was pursued by two men--the two most attractive and infamous bachelors in London. These notorious gentlemen had made Regina fair game in a competition where all was considered legitimate strategy in winning her affection and capturing her virtue. And Regina's only chance of preserving her honor and protecting her heart was to turn the tables on her titled t ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 1st 1983 by Signet
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In her enthusiasm to see the sights while she's in London, country mouse Regina Berryman accidentally attends the opera on the night where mistresses and the demimonde are on display. Dressed smartly in the fancy clothes her uncle bought her, she unwittingly draws the attention of two of London's most notorious libertines - the Marquess of Bessacarr and the Duke of Torquay. When the duke approaches her to whisper a proposition in her ear, she flees the opera house in a hurry. Torquay, however, i ...more
Marian Halcombe
This review was originally posted on my book blog,

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

Edith Layton’s The Duke’s Wager is often cited as one of the best Regency romances ever written. I picked it up after a friend who shares my affection for Georgette Heyer recommended it enthusiastically. Alas, I can’t quite share his enthusiasm, for reasons I will explain below in exhaustive (and possibly profanity-laced) detail. The short version is that while the book
Very well written, witty and emotionally satisfying book. Reminded me of Tess of the D'Urbevilles. But thankfully not as painfull.
Very selfishly I wish there would have been an extended ending. I do realize that that would not quite fit with the book as the story was at a turning point when the book ended but I did like the h/H and would have liked to have seen more of them together.
This book gave me deep and complicated feelings! Premise: two noblemen proxy-fight with each other by attempting to seduce into mistresshood a young lady who has nobody to protect her.

In a lot of historical romances, the heroes have sexual and romantic codes that in reality would be fairly repugnant - but they are glossed over with THE ROMANCE. (I enjoy rake-y heroes, so I'm definitely the problem here.) In this book, these types of heroes are presented as I think they would be in real life. Th
This is one of those books in which the hero(es) featured is a villain.

When the book opens up, it's from the viewpoint of the Marquis, who despises the Black Duke for being depraved and licentious. They both spy a beautiful young girl attending the opera on the night in which courtesans seek new protectors. The Duke makes an immediate move towards her, but the Marquis doesn't.

What happens then is that the Duke doesn't give up. He's sinister in his pursuit of Regina and sets a carriage outside he
5 stars for The Duke's Wager. What an awesome story, and what beautiful writing! Totally different from anything else I've ever read in the romance genre. The 2 "heroes" are both quite disgusting each in their own way, but only one of them redeems himself enough to be worthy of the heroine, even though he is the one who initially, and literally, destroys her life.

This story is so superior to anything else I've read by Edith Layton (e.g. the "C" series) that it's hard to believe that they were wr
I'm not quite sure how to review this. I gave it 4 stars, but it was difficult for me to read. I'm intentionally writing this without reading any other reviews because I feel the need to be honest about my feelings here. And I'm afraid I will be influenced by what others have previously written.

First of all, her writing style is more complex than I am used to. It required concentration. Often I read at work or in front of the TV. I could not do that with this book. Many times I had to reread pas
This book was simply great. I loved the twists and turns and surprises. I had a guess at the outcome, but it kept me guessing til almost the last page.
Oh yes. A proper intelligent grown-up historical romance. Not in a X-rated sense, but because there are messy emotions, people who are not black & white, and a glorious sense of language and structure that comes as balm to the soul! And wit and humour into the bargain.

Unusually for the genre, the story is told mainly from a male POV - and not just the hero's. Indeed, it's hard to say which of the two main male characters is the hero in this as it's not entirely clear until near the end just
Wow. This is an interesting book. The premise is rather unimaginative, with heavy undertones of "Tess of the D'Urbevilles" to it, but the characters bring it to a fabulous new level.

I think the book is better appreciated and enjoyed if you understand that the two men in the story are not really heroes. I expected a light romantic story, but really it's rather dark and follows two broken men as they go about destroying the life of an innocent woman. What is so unique about the story is their jour
I'd heard a lot of praise for The Duke's Wager. Some people class it as one of the best Regency romances.

Personally, I wouldn't class it so highly. Don't get me wrong, it was a really good read. The ending was particularly good and it has an interesting and unique plot. I love how you really understand by the end that Regina will have her happily ever after, despite marrying one of the most infamous bachelors in London. An anti-hero who really grows on you by the end of the novel (no, I'm not g
Good lord what Layton put that woman through. I had a bad taste in my mouth for much of the book. I have naught to say here on the level of ridiculousness. I did read it straight through though, I know not what that says. Maybe it should be approached as a gothic romance. At any rate, atrocious treatment of women, asinine logic by men, some serious Madonna versus whore complexes across the board and all sprinkled with an incredible level of unrealistic behavior. Oh and sexism launched to new fan ...more
I picked this up on the recommendation of a book blogger that I follow - I was curious enough to see why this had been so popular back in the day.

The characters were well written, especially several of the secondaries (and that is the reason for the 2 star rating) but the entire premise of the storyline-the duke's wager-kind of left me wondering why the heck I was spending my precious reading time on this book. In fact, the whole thing left me feeling like I almost need to shower.

I read the kind
I wanted to like this book based on the glowing reviews but unfortunately I could not bring myself to finish it. The heroine was the meat in an unsavoury sandwich, the innocent victim caught up in the cruel, chest-thumping game of two powerful, narcissistic men. Men, who could only seek proof of their own worth through the oppression of others, and who had no consideration for the consequences of their actions beyond the immediate satisfaction of their whims and the attendance of their pleasures ...more
This is a story I have on my keeper shelf. The delima of the heroine has just the right amount of angst. This book explores the character of two titled gentlemen. The heroine slowly discovers the motives and vulnerably of each for her love. You slowly unravel through conversations the complexity of each person. I loved the ending. It is story of redemption and is among my favorites.

This was a bit different for a regency, and we're talking classic regency style (no orgasming sex scene at all), it goes a bit deeper. The description might make it sound like a love triangle is coming, but there really isn't one.

Both of the men going after Regina are assholes and you believe it. None of this telling us they're asshole rakes and then only show them swaggering around in Hessians and superfine coats...these guys are actually rakes. Layton gives us background stories
Regina Berryman sounds like a lovely young lady. The Duke is a twisted mastermind who sounds a bit like a psychopath. The Marquis is equally unworthy and wants her to be his mistress. Too bad she can't end up with a better man.
Liz B
This is what I wish more romance novels written today were like. Sort of. Not really, but parts. Ok, perhaps this was the most important part that I liked: I knew where we were going but I had no idea--NONE--how we would get there. We spent more time with the main characters apart than together...and that, in this case, was fabulous because then they were each their own character.

The premise is that a beautiful girl is suddenly without protection and at the mercy of the two different noblemen, n
A rake's desolate journey, enabled because a duke was, de facto, above the law, through regrets to reformation, and what seems a newly arrived at state of grace. A second rake begins the journey, to be finished, no doubt, in the next book. Written in the round tones of Shakespearean tragedy it often verges on pomposity, falling into overly dramatic speeches, clearly heard in the back row, but just as clearly, if we are all victims of accident, birth and each other, love, and this is a romance, w ...more
regina makes an error in judgement and goes out on the town to an event that she shouldn't have. as a result, she catches the eye of two rakes, jason and st. john. the duke, jason, propositions her, but she turns him down. when her uncle dies unexpectedly, she turns to st. john for help, as she doesn't want to succumb to the duke. st. john and jason have a rivalry going, because although jason disgusts st. john and he doesn't like being compared to him, he also doesn't like losing to hi
An oldie but a goodie. The vernacular used in the older regencies took a little getting used to but the story was excellent. I was dismayed to be reminded how little recourse a woman of no wealth and common birth had when her circumstances took a downturn. A woman's honor often became a casualty when purses were empty and family was absent. I loved how Regina Berryman fought for hers against two powerful men of the ton in Regency London.
A tiny bit slow to start - took me a while to get there but I can certainly see why this is much-loved. I have to admit I was thrown off the scent very effectively by the author as she includes two anti-heroes and, for a while, I wasn't certain which one I was supposed to be rooting for. By the end, though, I was totally won over by the story (and by the hero's whispery voice)
Katie Montgomery
A great rec from SB over at "Smart Bitches, Trashy Books". I think she said it best -- this book is a series of delightful surprises, and (without giving too much away, hopefully!) I think I can say that at the end of the novel, one is left with the impression that Layton is a much more subtle and masterful author than perhaps it first appears.
I've read this story a couple of times. What I like most about it is the writing and also the way that the author manages to make you root for someone who isn't an ideal. Both the male leads in this story are very flawed (be warned that there are some pretty coarse references to relations between the sexes); I can't say I really liked either of the wagering aristocrats. But you do always have that feeling that one or the other is capable of redemption.
The heroine is a little bit too strikingly
The story isn't pretty or witty. Instead it is dark, serious and very detailed,nothing is left uncovered, which is why it is such an interesting read. It was almost gothic at times and at the end you feel, just as the characters, stripped bare, and viewing the souls of all the flawed characters involved
I could not finish it because there was no honor in the characters.

1st one man ruined the main female character and her family did not even ask her what happened, but believed a man that is well known for his dastardly behavior.

2nd a man who gave his word to the main character's uncle (who helped the 2nd point man out and kept his secerts) to help her makes no qualms in using her a playtoy in his need to one up the man listed in the 1st point. Which makes no sense, if he is to be believed to hav
the H/h was their own flawed ways..
i hated besscarr.. he was a hypocrite..
i liked the duke...for all his faults he was a very honest n yes a decent man
I don't know how she managed to make me like the hero and for that I gave it a four. It doesn't hurt that it centered around my favorite virtue: honor.
This was a really pleasant surprise. I mistook this book for something else when I picked it up at a used book store on my quest to find another Georgette. Alas, the quest continues, but still, this was a good mistake. I stayed up late to finish it because I actually wasn't sure how it was going to end. Happily, but happily how? The Duke only talks in a whisper which is strange and the story is this peculiar combination of racey and wholesome that I don't know what to make of. But it was differe ...more
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Edith Layton wrote her first novel when she was ten. She bought a marbleized notebook and set out to write a story that would fit between its covers. Now, an award-winning author with more than thirty novels and numerous novellas to her credit, her criteria have changed. The story has to fit the reader as well as between the covers.

Graduating from Hunter College in New York City with a degree in c
More about Edith Layton...

Other Books in the Series

Bessacarr (2 books)
  • The Disdainful Marquis (Bessacarr, #2)
To Wed a Stranger (C Series, #6) The Cad (C Series, #1) A Bride for His Convenience The Chance (C Series, #3) The Choice (C Series, #2)

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