The Wedding Wager by Cathy Maxwell
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: October 30, 2001
Pages: 384 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Mary Gates is the village eccentric of Lyford Meadows in England of 1814. She dresses in men's clothing, can outswear any stable hand on her estate, and is convinced no man alive can outmatch her in picking prime horseflesh.
Tye Barlow, her equally headstrong neighbor and chief rival is a secret temptation to Mary, but she's never considered marrying him, or any man, until she runs into a terrible bind. Mary outbids Tye for a famous stud she is sure will put her faltering family finances on the road to prosperity, but the only way to pay the exorbitant fee is to marry money. Not wasting a second to implement her scheme, Mary trots off to London's aristocratic Marriage Mart, Tye hot on her heels.
At first Tye assumes he's determined to foil her scheme solely to get his hands on the prize stud. But while arguing with Mary as he twirls her around crowded London ballrooms, he soon realizes the one thing he covets more than all the pricey studs in the world is the love of maddening, enticing Mary.
The repartee between these strong, obstinate lovers is great, and the author's voice is clear, quirky and very funny. I love an independent, intelligent heroine like Mary, especially when she is matched with a hero like Tye who is clearly her equal and respects her as a worthy opponent, irregardless that she is a woman. I also love a story, which this one is in spades, where the contest of wills and sparks of anger between the protagonists incites desire--the love scenes are very hot!
Don't miss this exciting, often hilarious battle of the sexes!