A Gamble at Sunset is set in London in the early 1800s. Several stories are told, and the ton is involved in some unsettling friendships and even romance. Will love win, or will the ton’s opinion matter more?


The Description

 Betting Against the Duke: Book 1
Publication Date: May 21, 2024

When a duke discovers the woman he loves was tricked into marrying another, the master chess player makes the now-widowed Viscountess the highest-stakes wager of his life in a last-ditch effort to win her affection: he will find husbands for her two sisters—or depart forever...

Georgina Wilcox, a wallflower with hidden musical talents, is furious when her reclusive older sister—the recently widowed Viscountess—refuses sorely needed help from the Duke of Torrance, the only gentleman who has shown kindness to the bereft Wilcox sisters. Georgina decides to get back at her sister and shock the Viscountess by kissing the first willing stranger she meets in the enchanting gardens of Anya House. Unfortunately, her sister is not the sole witness. A group of reporters and the ton’s leading gossips catch Georgina in a passionate embrace with a reticent composer, Lord Mark Sebastian.

The third son of an influential marquis, the tongue-tied Mark is determined to keep the scandal from ruining Georgina’s reputation and his own prospects of winning the celebrated Harlbert’s Prize for music. Under the guise of private voice lessons, the two embark on a daring gamble to fool the ton into believing that their feigned courtship is honorable while bolstering Georgina’s singing genius to captivate potential suitors. Sexist cartoons, family rivalries, and an upcoming ball test the fake couple’s resolve. Will their sudden fiery collaboration—and growing attraction—prove there’s nothing false about a first kiss and scandalously irresistible temptation?

The Review

A Gamble at Sunset by Vanessa Riley is a historical romance set in London in the early 1800s. It’s the first book in Betting Against the Duke series, and I look forward to reading more.

Georgina and Mark are the protagonists in this first book of the series. There are a lot of characters to get to know. He’s the spare’s spare in his family, and she’s from the other side of the river. There is some history between Katherine and the Duke, but we don’t get the whole story; all their secrets aren’t revealed but are hinted at, and the reader is left making guesses. There are many secrets, along with family, friends, illnesses, music, baking, businesses, scientific research and knowledge, mistakes, and misunderstandings. The story has a good flow once I was able to keep the multitude of characters straight by name, interests, and relationships. Georgina’s sisters and their family’s circumstances play a significant role.

There are vivid descriptions and cute titles for each chapter, giving a hint of what is going to happen and who will be the focus. There is some closure along with the epilogue, but it didn’t go far enough for me.  There’s also a happily ever after that was unexpected in how it was portrayed.

A Gamble at Sunset is set in London in the early 1800s. Several stories are told, and the ton is involved in some unsettling friendships and even romance. Will love win, or will the ton’s opinion matter more?Buy Links

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About The AuthorVanessa Riley is an award-winning author of historical romance, mystery, and fiction novels featuring realistic multicultural communities and powerful persons of color. To fuel her interest in the Regency and early-Victorian eras, she made time for attending renaissance fairs and consuming period novels and films while obtaining her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and a master’s in industrial engineering and engineering management from Stanford University, as well as a BS and MS in mechanical engineering from Penn State University. A frequent speaker at literary, women’s, and STEM events, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her military husband and teenage kid.



JoAnne Weiss, nee Montalbano, was born and raised in NYC until moving to CT with her family when she was 16 and she's never left. Married for 41 years with one grown son, she works in an elementary school office where she's been since it opened in 2003. Prior to that, she was an accountant in several corporations before becoming a stay at home mom for 12 years. JoAnne enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with her family, and extended family as well as with friends. She enjoys cooking and rarely uses a recipe the way it was intended but instead uses them and cooking shows to give her new ideas and suggestions. JoAnne has a huge bucket list of places she'd like to visit but has been lucky enough to travel to England, Italy, the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, and many states in the U.S. including Hawaii, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Maine among others. Some of JoAnne's favorite genres include contemporary romance, chick-lit, romantic suspense, and historical romances including regency and those set in the west. JoAnne is on several author's street teams and enjoys interacting with many of them on Facebook as well as reading their newsletters. She has been lucky enough to meet some of her favorite authors among them Susan Mallery, Debbie Macomber, Nora Roberts, Meg Tilly, Beatriz Williams, and Marie Bostwick. JoAnne took a road trip with her sister in the fall of 2019 and visited Nora Roberts' bookstore in Boonsboro, Maryland for an authors' signing. She hopes to do more of this in the future. JoAnne leaves reviews for all books she reads on Goodreads and her reviews can be found at JoAnne currently reviews for - and which is on hiatus. Previously she reviewed for which has since closed. Payment is in the form of receiving free books to read and review. Her mantra is too many books and not enough time!


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A Gamble at Sunset is set in London in the early 1800s. Several stories are told, and the ton is involved in some unsettling friendships and even romance. Will love win, or will the ton’s opinion matter more?4-STAR REVIEW: A GAMBLE AT SUNSET by Vanessa Riley