Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: The Marriage Wager by Candace Camp

Dear Ms. Camp:

The Marriage Wager (Matchmakers)I don’t recall reading you before although your name sounds familiar. I may be getting you mixed up with another author whose initials are CC (kind of like how I get Connie Mason and Cathy Maxwell mixed up in my head. I know, it is completely wrong but what can I say?). The The Marriage Wager is a standard regency historical that is adequate but not thrilling.

Constance Woodley iis not quite a poor relation but she doesn’t have enough funds to live on her own and thus she lives with her spiteful aunt and neglectful uncle. She is forced into acting as the de facto chaperone to her cousins.

Lady Francesca Haughston is the one of the leading lights of society whose marriage to Lord Andrew Haughston left her with a pile of debts. She dabbles in matchmaking and in return for helping couples find the right life companion is often rewarded with a costly gift that she pawns. A friend of hers, the Duke of Rochford, challenges Francesca’s boastful claim that she could make a match with anyone. Rochford chooses Miss Woodley as Francesca’s next victim.

Francesca sets about reworking Constance’s wardrobe, getting her the right invitations, and throwing any number of eligible men in her way. This is very Cinderella-like given the cousins/stepsisters and evil aunt/stepmother. The role of the handsome prince is played by Lord Dominic Leighton who has very close ties to Francesca. He’s not one that Francesca chose for Constance but Constance’s feelings keep getting in the way of making a decent match.

There were alot of problems with the storyline that required contrivances to move the plot along. Francesca’s poverty was a closely held secret. “No one, she was certain, would have guessed that she hadn’t a feather to fly with.” Yet, within a day of knowing Constance, Francesca teaches Constance how to economize, bargain, and generally get something for less. Constance immediately begins wondering about Francesca’s true circumstances. Of course, we the reader knows that Constance would never spread such gossip but it is hard to know how Francesca could have figured that out after only a few hours of acquaintance.

Constance, too, was a bit contrived. Despite being treated poorly by her aunt, Constance rejects Francesca’s help, refusing to marry without love. While this is a romantic notion, it isn’t very authentic for the time period. Constance’s obstinance to this issue made little sense. She would rather, it appeared, be under the miserable thumb of her aunt than paired with a man she could respect and run her own household. I also wondered what exactly Dominic saw in Constance. He kisses her upon seeing her for the first time. I suppose this might be a continuation of the fairytale, i.e., love at first sight, but I wasn’t convinced.

The best part of The Marriage Wager was Lady Francesca. She was the star in every scene in which she appeared and her mysterious relationship with the Duke of Rochford that hints at some previous alliance is intriguing. It is for this story that I would continue to read the “Matchmaker Series”. C.

Best regards,


Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Barbara B.
    Sep 01, 2007 @ 10:44:03

    Just mediocre, huh? Too bad.

  2. ivette d
    Sep 16, 2007 @ 10:08:10

    I have never read a book from you before, but I read The Marriage Wager and I loved it. I love the story line and the characters. I can not wait to read your next series on the Matchmakers. The book was great!

  3. Becky
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 08:38:35

    Absolutely loved the book. I am looking foward to more with Lady Francesca and the Duke. I think they are have great chemistry and are an enjoyable couple to read about. I am hoping you release the rest of the series quick so I can learn more about what happens.

    waiting anxiously! :O)

  4. Rosalyn
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 22:34:14

    I really enjoyed your book. Lady Francesca and the Duke had great
    chemistry as well. I enjoyed the ending how you left the door open
    for more on these two characters. I also enjoyed Calandra maybe
    she will have a book of her own as well. I look forward to the next
    installment to this series!

  5. Laura
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 11:24:32

    Waiting anxiously for next book in series. Intrigued by the relationship b/t Francesca & the Duke and curious about the other jewelry in her box>???? Looking forward to learning more……

  6. Jenny
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 10:29:31

    This wa a really good book I could not put it down. I am now trying to find the next book in the series.

  7. vicki
    Feb 27, 2008 @ 10:54:26

    I don’t know what the reader “Jane” is talking about, because I found this book to be very good and i could not put it down. I’m now reading the Bridal Quest, the second book in the series, and it’s every bit as good.

  8. Jane
    Feb 27, 2008 @ 11:05:05

    Hi there, vicki. I am glad that the book worked for you and that you are using the comments to share your opinion.

  9. Val
    Apr 04, 2008 @ 20:32:46

    I agreed completely with your review! I had the same thoughts exactly as I was reading it! I also felt the love scenes lacked a build up. Another huge problem was the fact that it lacked a narration from Dominic’s point of view. I did not feel as if Dominic was a fully characterized person….but rather I felt as if I was reading a lovesick girl’s diary at some points.

    On another note, If you want some good contemporary romances… Sarah Mayberry is an awesome author. Her books sizzle and the dialogue pops in way that you feel you are right there with the characters. My favorite book by far from her is Can’t Get Enough. She originally wrote scripts for TV which I think helped to ensure that the dialogue between her characters is witty and engaging.

  10. Jane
    Apr 04, 2008 @ 21:23:14

    I’ve never heard of Sarah Mayberry. I’ll check her out. Thanks.

  11. Jamie
    Nov 10, 2008 @ 02:11:43

    I have never commented on a book review before but I had to comment on this one. I think that you have been entirely unjust and prejudiced in your review of The Marriage Wager. I loved the book, which was given to me as a present from my mother-in-law, and would gladly reccomend it, and have reccomended it, to all of my friends and family.Also, Your description of Dominic and Constance’s love is entirely unromantic and very cliche when it was quiet obviously not love at first sight but very much a case of sudden attraction that blossoms into love.

  12. Electric Switch
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 11:15:16

    marriage is of course very sacred that is why both partners should give respect to each other “,:

  13. Amanda V
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 10:57:02

    I have read many of Candace Camp’s novels. While I usually do enjoy them, it is extremely irritating to me that she duplicates her character names in a lot of her books. Its usually just first names that she recycles but in Mesmerized and Swept Away, the antagonist was named Pamela St Leger but they were 2 completely different characters. Both were greedy widows who were infatuated with the hero of the story. I could go on and on about this so I won’t I just thought it ridiculous.

%d bloggers like this: