What’s it all about?
From the blurb:
Beautiful Sylvia Gabriel has more cause than most to despise the Game of Kings. Chess has been the ruination of her life—ending her engagement, filching her fortune and reducing her to poor relation. But when she finds herself falling in love with chessmaster David Rutherford, the new Lord Donhill, Sylvia stakes her heart, her future and her reputation on the riskiest gambit of all.
We first meet DAVID RUTHERFORD, Lord Donhill, as he is losing a game of chess that he has played by correspondence for many years. (Which is just amazing to consider – playing chess against someone you’ve never met, through snail mail).
There’s a fair bit of banter in the gentlemen’s club about the fact that he now needs to marry but that he doesn’t want to marry a fortune hunter and so will only marry a woman who can best him at chess.
Enter…SYLVIA GABRIEL who is connected to the person David was playing chess against, and who has very deep secrets to conceal.
The word ‘gambit’ in the title means “a chess opening in which a player risks one or more pawns or a minor piece to gain an advantage in position” and the whole book can be seen as a gambit – not just by Sylvia but by David as well, to gain a happy ending.
And so the story is set up – if David is sworn to only marry someone who can beat him at chess, how can Sylvia hope to have any chance with him? A good question and certainly a change from the ‘big misunderstanding’ so common in Regency romances (which is usually resolved simply by the two protagonists having a chat!)
What did I particularly like?
The amount of research done by Ms Boucher on chess is evident throughout the book. (It is of course possible that she is a chess player herself but I couldn’t find that information online, so I’m assuming that it was all research based on her part).
You don’t have to play chess yourself to enjoy the book though which is lucky as it does play a strong theme throughout the story.
Much of what I liked about the book came nearer the second half of the book so I can’t talk too much about it without spoilers.
One thing I can say is how refreshing it was to have a supportive relationship between the heroine and her cousin, even though Sylvia is the ‘poor relation’ in this scenario.
I also (oddly for me) liked the ‘cute child’ in the story. Normally I find cute children a bit too cute but Ms Boucher actually made me care about him!
What did I dislike about the book?
The comments about ‘women being stupid’ did go on a bit too long in my opinion – I understand that they were necessary as part of scene setting but it did grate a bit.
Also, I felt the use of David’s Russian friend as a comedic sidekick, based purely on his difficulties with the English language, was not really appropriate so that did tend to jerk me out of my state of suspended belief every so often.
So in summary?
A nice light book that does dip a bit too far into the ‘women are stupid’ trope on occasion but redeems itself with a strong female character who stays strong rather than wilting at the first sign of trouble.
The chess theme makes for an interesting mystery whilst I very much liked the heroine’s interactions with the villain at the climax of the book (hopefully that’s not too spoilerish!)
I recommend it for anyone who likes a gentler hero, damsels in distress (who don’t need a prince to save them), cute children and a flavouring of mystery!
P.S: At the end of the book Ms Boucher does promise that more of her previous books will be re-released as Kindle books but as of this post, that unfortunately has not happened. Here’s hoping she can convince the copyright owners to do this!