“Guilt can prevent us from setting the boundaries that would be in our best interests, and in other people's best interests.” ~ Melody Beattie
'Viscount's Wager' is the third book in the ‘Gambling on Love’ series by Ava March. Anthony and Gabriel have been given a second chance at love. Anthony is thrilled and goes all out to convince Gabriel they can be together; Gabriel is reluctant; he can't let go of his fear, regret and guilt from the past. Anthony tries to convince him to put it behind him but it's Gabriel who has to forgive himself in order to be able to love again.
On the surface, Anthony is a secure, carefree young man. He inherited the viscounty from his father at one-and-twenty, quite young for so much responsibility. From this time on, Anthony has tried his best to handle his responsibilities while being a good son and brother, escorting his mother and sister where ever they need to go. The bank takes care of a great deal of the financial transactions, but Anthony worries about debts and other business matters for which he has no talent. Mostly, he lives a charmed life of privilege, albeit boring at times. When he spies Gabriel, the man who broke his heart at sixteen, he's elated, but cautious. Anthony is not anxious to be hurt again yet is excited about the possibility of getting together with Gabriel.
Gabriel is a widower whose wife died six months ago; she is also the woman he chose over Anthony. Anthony, forgiving soul that he is, doesn't hold a grudge, but is still in love with Gabriel. He offers to show Gabriel around London, since he's not been there in a long time and Gabriel agrees. Anthony is secretly hoping his rooms will be one of the places Gabriel will want to visit and begins a tantalizing seduction to which Gabriel responds, letting Anthony know he's interested. This begins a heart wrenching game of hot and cold which almost breaks Anthony. Sensitive Anthony is as understanding as anyone can be, putting up with Gabriel's moods which are motivated by his guilt over hurting Anthony in the past, never loving his wife, and his desire for other men. Their lovemaking is hot and heavy, like they are trying to make up for the past, but the disappointment of Gabriel leaving right afterward causes Anthony to doubt his sincerity. When Anthony finds out about Gabriel's gambling addiction, he's furious, because now he knows where all Gabriel's money has gone and why he is in such dire straits. They have a bitter argument and Gabriel leaves for his estate. He's lost everything. More than ever, Gabriel knows he doesn't deserve Anthony and is determined to dig himself out of the disaster he's created.
Ana's lyrical writing is perfect for this Regency romance. It captures the excitement and danger of men loving men in a time when it was against the law. Although engaging, the pace was slow at times. I adored Anthony. He was such a kind soul who always tried his best at everything. Gabriel was difficult to like. I thought he was a pitiful excuse for a man with no backbone or common sense and I disliked him intensely for the way he treated Anthony; although he did redeem himself in the end. If you like Regency historical romances, reading about London society and customs in 1882, passionate sex, angst, and a happy ending, then you may enjoy this story. Thank you, Ava, for bringing Anthony and Gabriel back together.