Fortune Favors the Viscount
Grade : A-

Caroline Linden is one of my favorite historical romance novelists. Her Scandalous series is one of my favorites in the genre–Love and Other Scandals is flat out fabulous–and I’ve enjoyed her most recent series, The Wagers of Sin. Fortune Favors the Viscount is the fourth and final novel and gets a pleaseed DIK from me.

All four books feature wagers made in the infamous Vega Club and here, it’s time for its owner, Nick Dashwood, to meet his match. And he does, in the splendid Emilia Greene. When we meet Emilia, it’s early morning and she is swigging brandy from a flask while staring through a hired hackney’s grimy windows at the Vega Club. Emilia is not the sort who drinks brandy or takes dangerous hackney rides but needs must and Emilia has a life to save and she needs Nick Dashwood to do so. So, carrying a forged note, she barges in and demands to speak to the proprietor.

Nick is decidedly uninterested in whatever this young woman wants from him. It’s time for him to go home and get some sleep and he rarely hears a proposition worth taking. However, what Miss Greene wants from him genuinely shocks him. For, as she explains, due to a preponderance of daughters, the family line of the Sidneys has left him, the son of a sea captain, the next Viscount Sydenham. Emilia wants him to claim the title.

Nick isn’t interested. His impression of peers is a low one and he likes his life the way it is. He’s well aware that the lords who gamble, drink, and gossip in his establishment would not be thrilled to see him in the halls of Westminster. But Emilia is determined. The life of Lucy Sidney, the ten year old daughter of the last Viscount, depends on it. Emilia is Lucy’s governess and not only are their funds almost gone, the man whom Lucy’s father appointed to be her guardian is beyond unfit. Emilia believes that if Nick becomes the Viscount, not only will he provide for Lucy financially, he will be able to somehow keep Lucy from the care of an evil man.

As the title of the series suggests, Nick finds himself agreeing to a wager. The terms? Emilia bets Nick she can prove his claim to the title. Nick agrees although he tells her if she wins, he’ll require a favor and no, it’s not that kind. If she loses, Emilia must burn every bit of evidence she’s put together and Nick will walk away–he does agree that, in that case, he’ll settle five thousand pounds on Lucy. Emboldened by first a glass of wine and then one of Nick’s best brandy, Emilia wagers… and wins.

Emilia is the best. Like Nick, she also lives on the edges of the ton–she walked away from a betrothal her iffy father arranged for her to one of his friends and has since established herself as a successful governess. She adores Lucy, charms all she meets, wishes she had prettier dresses, and knows and values herself. Since her horrible engagement, she’s stayed away from men, but, from the moment she sees Nick, he calls to her. And why not? He too is the bomb. Even better, he is just as dizzied by her as she is by him. It’s lovely to read a book where both leads fall fast and treat each other with respect. Their interactions are always charged–you can just feel the pull between them–and both, at all times, act with grace. Theirs is a scrumptious romance.

The supporting characters are strong as well. Lucy’s past is one of trauma–her father was utter garbage–and her fears are stark and heart-breaking. Nick’s sister, Charlotte, is a vibrant fifteen year old and it’s fun to watch Nick, terrified he’ll muck it up, try to shepherd Charlotte to womanhood. Nick’s employees add humor to the narrative and the villain well deserves his ultimate fate.

Does Nick take the title? Will Lucy find a secure home? I suspect you know the answers to these questions. And that’s fine. Because Fortune Favors the Viscount is a traditional love story, a very very good love story. So, if you’re looking for a smart, sexy historical romance, look no further. Fortune favors the reader in Linden’s latest, excellent read.

Reviewed by Dabney Grinnan

Grade: A-

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : June 27, 2023

Publication Date: 06/2023

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Dabney Grinnan

Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day. Publisher at AAR.
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