Laurence Aberforth has no wish to marry. But if he must do so, then he insists that love be a part of the equation. Gilbert Heckwith believes the idea of love to be something best left to poets and dreamers. It’s a beautiful thought, but completely unrealistic. When these two men meet at a stifling social engagement, they are naturally drawn to the intelligence and wit the other possesses. What begins as a casual conversation ends with a burgeoning friendship. The pair decides to lay a wager against one another: Laurie insists that love can be proven, Gilbert does not, and each will attempt to sway the argument of the other.
Over the weeks that follow, Laurie and Gilbert engage in extensive conversation about the nature of love, friendship, and the essence of humanity. As they attempt to prove to the other the strength of their respective arguments, they realize that while talking about love is all well and good, perhaps experiencing it is even better.
What a wonderful little gem A Wager of Love turned out to be! The writing is crisp and engaging and the plot moves along almost too quickly. I definitely wished the book would have been a little longer, but the author generally does a good job of providing a realistic time frame for the action and evolution of the relationship between Laurie and Gilbert. The end felt somewhat rushed and was the only part of A Wager of Love that lacked an even pacing. Had this section been somewhat extended and had we been allowed to see a bit more of Laurie and Gilbert’s happily ever after, this would have been an almost perfect book.
The philosophical discussions between Laurie and Gilbert are the real highlight of this novel. You don’t have to love philosophy to enjoy them, but you do have to appreciate and be willing to adapt your natural reading style to incorporate them. Philosophy requires the inclination to think before anything else and sometimes it requires a patient untangling of an idea from nuance and unfamiliar concepts. Though the conversations shared by Laurie and Gilbert are generally familiar to most who sat through an entry-level philosophy course in college, there are several passages that are more than appropriate to the events going on in the US and across the world. The author does a wonderful job of reminding us that philosophy is not simply the work of dusty scholars or bored students, but rather an extension of the human condition and as a result has a place in societies, both modern and historical.
Laurie and Gilbert are both extremely likeable characters and it was easy to be charmed by them and drawn into their tentative relationship. And while I would have enjoyed reading more about them, the author does an excellent job of giving just enough information about each character to make them relatable and real.
A Wager of Love was a brilliant read and only a somewhat abrupt ending that deserved a bit more fleshing out kept it from being a five-star novel. These were definitely characters that were easy to become attached to and it’s a credit to the author that both Laurie and Gilbert were so engaging. I definitely recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a bit of thought provoking conversation along with their romances!