REVIEW: CB – Wager of Sin by Jess Michaels
Bianca Claremont, daughter of the Earl of Covey, and widow of Oscar Clairemont, skirts the edge of propriety every day. She openly takes lovers and lives a life of abandonment. Hawkins (aka Hawk) was a friend to her former husband and now a friend to Bianca. While they engage in many a teasing conversations rife with sexual innuendo, Bianca and Hawk have engaged in a sexual relationship. Hawkins has wanted Bianca, wanted her from the first but she was married to Oscar.
What Hawkins doesn't know is that the marriage damaged Bianca. She went into the marriage as a sweet young miss and emerged from it a woman who knows power only through control of the physical relationship. She is hardened by the marriage experience and while she lives life full of sensuality, it is because she was made that way.
Hawkins decides to act on his need for Bianca and engage in her in an affair, but he soon realizes that physical satiation will not be enough. Because of Bianca's marriage and the emotional trauma she suffered during the marriage, Hawkins is not able to make the emotional bond with Bianca that he desires. He is forced to respond to her in a language and in a manner which she understands: sexual dominance.
This story had a powerful emotional impact that went beyond the seduction and sex. Hawkins realizes that he has never truly looked beneath Bianca's teasing countenance. You show us what he has missed in terms of visual and non verbal clues. Bianca, herself, is not the ordinary heroine. She probably would be termed a jade. She is scandalizing and flaunts it because that is the only way she knows how to be a woman. Her need to be self contained and not give in was justified by her past experiences.
The problems were Bianca's constant need to remind her father of his miscalculation in contracting the marriage and the ending (which seemed to be written with a sequel in mind). If those two things were edited, this would have been a keeper. As it is, it is a great short story and one I can recommend without hesitation. B for you.