File Size: 5876 KB
Publication Date: September 17, 2017
Told in alternating narration, we first meet Talen, heir to a billion dollar big pharma company owned and headed by his impossible to please draconian father. Were this novel set in England, I'd have called Talen the wastrel son, but in this country, he and his friend Brandon are wealthy, womanizing playboys and drunks, who go out hunting for their next lays every weekend, usually ending up in a Las Vegas hotel room and waking up hung over and not even knowing the names of the women they've bedded. Although Talen appears to be getting tired of this routine, it doesn't take much convincing on Brandon's part to get Talen to do it again. Talen's father however, has issued Talen an ultimatum. There's an upcoming meeting in several weeks with the investors and the members of the board in the company, and Talen has been ordered to find a suitable wife and be married by that time, so that the heir apparent will appear to be both mature and stable. In short, no wife, no cushy life.
We next meet Dani, who, from the very beginning is a caring, kind daughter to her mother, who is rapidly succumbing to dementia. Although Dani is a struggling artist and is holding down two part-time jobs to make ends meet, she still finds time to visit her mother several times a week, pre-cook her meals, do her laundry, clean her house and spend time with her. She worries that soon her mom will need full-time care in an assisted living facility and is hoping that her upcoming showing at an art gallery will bring in some much needed funds. Dani's had the same boyfriend for the past 5 years, Perry, a businessman who is rarely there for her, and his phone calls to her are increasingly rushed and all too brief. He's never yet shown up at one of her gallery showings, although he's promised that he would. Dani's mother would love to see her married and pregnant while she still has her wits about her, but when Dani verbally confronts Perry by phone for his non-appearance at her latest gallery show, he informs her that he's found someone else, their relationship ends and Dani is devastated.
Dani's closest friend is Madison, who works at a strip club, and she's always thought that Dani deserved a better man than Perry. Madison tries to cheer her up by taking her away to Las Vegas for the weekend, leaving on Friday night. Dani is sitting alone at the strip club bar while Madison is performing on stage, and when Talen spots Dani, and is attracted to her, the two begin chatting and drinking, while Brandon has his eyes glued to Madison.
It's Sunday morning--Talen and Dani wake up together in the same bed, wearing matching wedding bands, and to their relief, some clothing. Dani has some vague recollection of them being married to each other by an Elvis impersonator and the two want the marriage annulled until Brandon quietly mentions that this could be the solution to Talen's problem--offer Dani enough money to pretend to be his wife for the next month, until after the board meeting, and it solves both their problems. Or does it? While I wasn't expecting a marriage of convenience romance at the outset, that's exactly what this novel became.
While I have no objections to the plot or the writing of this novel, I did have a problem with some of the characters, most notably with Talen, who has never in his life managed to stand up to his utterly obnoxious, demanding and emotionally abusive father. He was simply too much of a coward to be considered a hero. His father too, had not one single redeeming feature, admitting to his own son that his marriage to Talen's lovingly portrayed mother was merely a business decision. Finally, there's the issue of Dani's mother and her dementia--it was the chance to seriously address this subject, a horrific situation for any adult child to have to deal with alone, but aside from the search for a suitable assisted living facility, Dani's feelings over her mother's rapid mental deterioration was downplayed and in this reviewer's opinion, it was a missed opportunity to insert real emotional angst into this story.
While The Gamble was, for the most part, an enjoyable read with an HEA ending, it just missed the mark when it came to eliciting real emotional involvement between the characters and in this reader. It's not a bad read at all, but I believe it could have been so much better.
I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this novel. The opinions expressed are my own.,September 14, 2017 – Finished Reading
Review This isn't a bad book, but there are so many missed opportunities that would have made it better.
The repressed emotions of both Kalen and Dani stopped me feeling any sort of engagement with them.
Kalen, quite frankly, came across as a self-obsessed wimp, and a weak one at that.
Dani was, in turns, childish and hurtful. The sections dealing with her mother's dementia were sensitively handled, but could have been so much more powerful.
I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book via Hidden Gems.,The Gsmble is s good book, but not the really really good book I'm used to reading from Alice Ward. I have given 4 or 5 stars to all of her books I've read up until now. But this newest one did not grab my imagination; it did not warm my heart; it did not make me fall in love with the hero and heroine, like her erotic romance novels have before. I especially was not impressed with the character of Talen. What are his redeeming qualities again? I forget.
I felt The Gamble's plot was so familiar, that maybe it was a rewrite of Ms. Ward's. I suppose so many of the elements of the story were borrowed from other erotic romance novels that it just seemed like I had already read it: the stripper with the heart of gold, the starving artist with the medical crisis of a loved one and therefore is desperate for money, the wayward billionaire playboy whose dad has lowered the boom and insisted on a quick marriage... On and on and on... Add the many rehashed plot elements always present in this genre, like the inevitable reluctant budding romance beset with childish misunderstandings that suddenly right themselves in time for a quick HEA epilog - it's just too predictable.
If Ms. Ward really is kachunking out a new book every month, that may be part of the problem. Please, slow down and create a few really worthwhile original novels a year. I guess that's the curse embedded in the freedom of eBook self-publishing.
Well, indi authors, get off the Merry-Go-Round now. We readers have plenty of books to catch up reading. We want fewer and better ones from you. And please, stop borrowing so many plot elements that we readers can no longer tell you apart.
Eventually, you're going to lose your reading audience altogether.
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