A MelanieM Release Day Review: Seven-Card Stud (Wild Cards #2) by Ava Drake

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Rating: 2.75 to 3 stars out of 5

seven-card-stud-by-ava-drakeTemptation, peril, and dirty poker.

Love is a high-stakes game.

When Collin Callahan, British secret agent, goes up against math genius turned surfer bum Oliver Elliot, the battle is epic—and so is the attraction. They’re pitted against each other in an exclusive, ultra-secret—and ultra-illegal—poker match in Gibraltar, but when players start dying and they could be next, they find a common goal: catch the killer before it’s too late.

Evenly matched at poker and romance, they each wrestle personal demons that threaten to consume them as the stakes climb. It’s an all-or-nothing gamble with both life and love on the line as they fight to be the last seven-card studs standing.

Seven-Card Stud (Wild Cards #2) by Ava Drake is one of the few misses in the Dreamspun Desires series that I have come to enjoy so much.  I thought Ace in the Hole, Ava Drake’s first story in the Wild Cards series, a real winner.  Loved the characters, thought the plot was a great mix of intrigue and romance.  I recommended it to all.

But Seven-Card Stud? Unfortunately not.

I did like some of the elements of intrigue and wish the author had developed them more.  The assasins and their identities? That was a neat imaginative twist and one I wish had seen more time and play here to see it through to the end.  Because it vanished as though the author hadn’t even bothered to build it up in the story as much as she had.  Just snipped out.   Other characters and plot threads weave in and out just as quickly.  I will admit, there’s more to this story but if you set all this many elements in motion, I expect to see it all carried out to some conclusion.  Any conclusion.  And that didn’t happen here.

Even the characters were problematic for me.  Collin and Oliver. Oliver and Collin. I couldn’t keep them straight.  Who was the british American?  Who was the other guy? Really they blended together and early on at that. So not good in a romance.  I never did get invested in their relationship.

What did I like?  The whole gambling scene.  The descriptions of the tells, the poker play, the intensity at the table.  That was so well done.  Those descriptions were vivid, believable, and made the reader feel as though they were  looking over the shoulders of the high stakes gamblers betting away millions.  Then it got bogged down by the intrigue and the silliness and that was lost as well.

I wish I could say it all ended well but it is more of a cliffhanger or at least ends where you expect the next novel to start.  There is no real ending.  Where the first story could be a standalone novel, this one definitely expects you to read the one coming after it.  Be forewarned.  It expects a commitment from you that I’m not so sure you will want to make.  Its up to you.

Yes, I was disappointed.  Here is one Dreamspun Desire that I would let slip away.  Wait for the next to come along.  Or read Ava Drake’s first Wild Cards story. I still recommend that one.

 

Cover art by Paul Richmond is wonderful.  It has all the elements needed and then some.  Love it.

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Book Details:

ebook, 242 pages
Expected publication: November 15th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634775656
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Seven-Card Stud (Wild Cards #2) by Ava Drake

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

seven-card-stud-by-ava-drakeTemptation, peril, and dirty poker.

Love is a high-stakes game.

When Collin Callahan, British secret agent, goes up against math genius turned surfer bum Oliver Elliot, the battle is epic—and so is the attraction. They’re pitted against each other in an exclusive, ultra-secret—and ultra-illegal—poker match in Gibraltar, but when players start dying and they could be next, they find a common goal: catch the killer before it’s too late.

Evenly matched at poker and romance, they each wrestle personal demons that threaten to consume them as the stakes climb. It’s an all-or-nothing gamble with both life and love on the line as they fight to be the last seven-card studs standing.

have mixed feelings about this story.  On the one hand it was much more complex than most of the others I’ve read in the Dreamspun Desires series.  There was more intrigue, more danger, and less of a chance to guess the outcome, but on the other hand, unfortunately, there was less romance. There was sex, and some of it smoking hot, but the MCs constantly bantered back and forth, sometimes sounding as if they were speaking truthfully when what they had to say wasn’t what I’d expect from two men falling for each other. 

And there was more info about poker—how to play, how to bluff, how to read tells, etc. than I ever cared to know.  Some of the things that occurred as the story was coming to a climax didn’t make sense to me. Things such as Collin’s wireless being jammed, and yet, the next day it’s revealed how Oliver contacted (spoiler) to communicate urgent information.  Why was his wireless not knocked out as well?  Little things like that drive me crazy. 

And the fact that the story did not have what a purist romantic like me would call a HEA?  Nope.  I’m not happy.  So although I’d recommend it to those who can’t resist the Dreamspun Desires series, I’d more likely recommend it to someone who wants to read a story filled with intrigue than to someone looking for a sweet romance.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is wonderful.  It has all the elements needed and then some.  Love it.

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Book Details:

ebook, 242 pages
Expected publication: November 15th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634775656
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Ace in the Hole (Wild Cards #1) by Ava Drake

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Rating: 3.75 Stars out of 5

perf4.250x7.000.inddChristian Chatsworth-Brandeis has a problem. A huge one. The US senator he works for has run away with his latest mistress on the eve of a make-or-break fund-raising event, and it’s up to him to cover his boss’s irresponsible tracks.

Stone Jackson, the senator’s new bodyguard, looks enough like the senator that, with some extensive grooming, he might pass for Senator Lacey. Christian and Stone hatch a plan to fool everyone by substituting Stone for the senator, but Miami madness and the incendiary heat between them are throwing obstacles in their way. It’s a race to find the senator and pull off the con of the century before the attraction between them spins completely out of control.

Ace in the Hole by Ava Drake is another winner in the Dreamspun Desires series from Dreamspinner Press.  A hot, sexy tale of politicians behaving badly, mystery, and romance, this story kept me entertained from beginning to end.

I always sort of dread political stories as I reside near Washington, DC but this one was more of a romp with a misbehaving Senator (not the first one) and two staff members scrambling to cover for him, in a way.  Christian and Stone both meet first in a bar, their attraction to each other hot and instantaneous.  Drake does an excellent job of portraying these men so we can see them in every detail.  And that encounter?  Very, very hot!

Things get even better once Drake brings them together in the Senator’s office, working to protect a Senator who’s nigh near un-protectable in his arrogance, stupidity and shear un-likeability.  Adding to their stress is the attraction to each other, their backgrounds which are so at odds with with each, and their determination  to keep each other at arms length.  Its also provides some of the  wonderful   moments in the story.  But this is also where I wanted something more from the author and the characters.  Drake starts to provide both men with great back histories but only fills us in so much.  Christian’s tony family and iron grandmother?  Would love to know more about her.  Stone’s employer?  Yes,  I want to know more there too.  There are just enough holes here to make me stop and think about them instead of letting me flow effortlessly through the story as I should.

I did like some of the side characters, the Senator’s wife included.  The mystery was fun, the danger…well if not high and thrilling it was well meshed into the storyline.  All in all, I throughly enjoyed Ace in the Hole and the couple involved.  And that’s a great thing apparently, because this is becoming a series.  I can’t wait to see how Ava Drake handles the next story.  I will be eagerly awaiting its release.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is again wonderful.  I just adore these covers.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, Dreamspun Desires #13, 216 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleAce in the Hole
ISBN 1634773101 (ISBN13: 9781634773102)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Wild Cards #1