Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Game of Hazard by Vivienne Westlake

In writing my recent novel, A Marquess for Christmas, I needed to find a game that the hero and heroine could play while the hero was mostly on bed rest. I wanted something that might surprise a jaded hero and increase the sexual tension in the story.

Games of chance and gambling were very popular during the Regency era. There were card games like whist, which was a game for two couples that is similar to spades, and faro, which involved a special machine to pop up cards. They also played black jack, but it was called vingt-et-un.

I decided not to use a card game because most games were so popular that everyone played them. I thought a dice game represented pure chance and likely appealed to those with a strong penchant for gambling. I figured it might also appeal more to men than to women, though I admit I took a bit of license in having the hero make that assumption.

Hazard - which is where we get the term for peril and the expression "hazarding a guess" - was a dice game very similar to craps. Players would choose a number and keep playing until they got that number, another winning number, or they lost.

In hazard, the main is a number between 5 and 9. If you roll a 2 or a 3, you are automatically out, no matter which number you chose. 11 and 12 can be a win or a loss, depending on what your main number is. Players basically keep rolling until they hit a winning or a losing number. I've heard that players should always chose 7 if they have a choice because that has the greatest statistical probability of winning. This may be the reason that hazard evolved into craps.

For the specific rules, try the Wikipedia article or see A Regency Primer on How to Play Hazard.

There is a fun online game that simulates hazard play.

Here is a snippet from my new release, A Marquess for Christmas:
*Edited to be suitable for a PG-13 audience*

When Violet popped open the box, he saw a plain wooden cup, four wooden dice, and two decks of cards. She took out the cup and dropped two dice inside.
“Shall we roll for the main or do you want to choose?” Kit asked.
“A lady always loves to have a choice.” She smiled. “I could be cordial and offer you the first pick, but since considerate players rarely prosper, I shan’t feel too poorly about it. I will play sevens.”
“Then I will play six.”
“Do you wish to go first?” She asked, shaking the cup. The mere sound of the dice rolling around in the holder was enough to get his blood pumping and his fingers tingling.
As he grabbed the cup, the tips of his fingers stroked hers. He let them linger as he eased the cup from her hand.
They were both quiet as he shook the dice. His gaze lingered over the exposed skin of her neck. The dressing gown was loose enough that he got a glimpse of her cleavage, but no more. He looked forward to peeling the fabric off of her and sliding his hands under her chemise.
Kit turned over the cup and let the dice fall. Seven. If he’d chosen seven as his main, he would have won, but now he had to roll again.
Do not pull a six. Do not pull a six. He slipped the dice back into the holder, saying his prayers for a win. A seven would guarantee a win.
After a strong shake of the cup, he threw the dice down. Two. He’d lost. Now it was Violet’s turn.
Her long, slender fingers took hold of the cup as her other hand grabbed the dice. She pressed them to her lips, closing her eyes, then plopping each one into the cup. Something about watching her mouth touch the die or perhaps the way she lowered her lashes in a silent prayer made his mouth water and his cock harden.
She loosed the dice . Eleven. How had she managed that? He had to blink a few times to be sure of what he saw. But sure enough, one die read five and the other six. Violet had won the first round.
“Should I have checked that the dice weren’t loaded?”
“Do not be a petulant loser.”
“Perhaps your fingers are magic?” he asked, taking hold of her hand and kissing the tip of each finger. He teethed her index finger. When he pulled her arm closer so that he could kiss her wrist, she stopped him.
“Do not attempt to distract me. You seek to throw off my guard so that you will win.”
“What I seek is another taste of your delectable skin.”
“Roll the dice. Do you wish to keep your main?” she asked.
“I think I shall switch to five,” he said before giving two fast shakes and tossing. Six. Like it or not, he was stuck with it again. He stared at the dice, wondering at the chances of that happening when he heard a tapping sound on the table.
“Do not give up so easily,” she said. “Though perhaps I should encourage you to acquiesce now.”
He rolled the dice. Eight. He neither won nor lost. The third time, he rolled a twelve. Two sixes, but not the one he needed.
As he picked up the dice and dropped them in the cup, he felt a firm pressure against his thigh. He groaned and dropped the cup when he felt it move to his groin.
A glance at Violet’s face revealed nothing, though there was a twinkle in her eye.
“God’s blood woman, what are you doing?”
“Hmmm?” She rested her head on her hand. “What do you mean?”
She massaged him, pressing her heel against his privates. Gripping the table, he closed his eyes, unable to move. How could he possibly concentrate when she did such devilish things to him?

A Marquess for Christmas is now available at Amazon, All Romance eBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

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