One Night Gamble
by Katherine Garbera
Series: Jokers Wild Book One
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: January 14, 2018
Talia Spencer’s life is the epitome of boring and predictable. But then she meets him…
The first time she meets Casey Waltham, she’s buying condoms…for her grandmother. And of course drops them accidentally at his feet. Face plant.
The second time she sees him, she’s this close to landing her dream job and is celebrating at a club. Two chance encounters in the same day–that’s got to be a sign, right?
He’s charming and flirty and just what Talia needs for the night.
But it was just supposed to be a hook-up. At least, that’s what she thought…until he turns out to be her new boss…
Talia Spencer glanced down at her leg and then cursed again. The run in her pantyhose had spread all the way up her leg. She’d considered going without them, but she hadn’t had time to shave her legs this morning and she was all Chewbacca down there. She glanced at her watch as she drove down the highway. The interview was in thirty-five minutes.
She couldn’t be late. The Jokers Wild Casino was the newest on the Vegas Strip, and she desperately wanted a job there. She’d been intrigued the moment she’d first heard about it. The casino was co-owned by three Las Vegas mavericks—a gambler, an illusionist, and a daredevil stunt performer. Even now, her stomach churned when she thought of some of the stuff the third partner had done.
As much as she hated Las Vegas and resented the casinos that had been such a dominant part of her childhood, she needed a good paying job that she could use to springboard herself out of Nevada.
Sami Shroft, her best friend, had heard about the job through the office grapevine and put Talia’s resume in for her. Sami liked to push and Talia was the first to admit that she needed a shove every now and then. She’d been raised by her grandmother—and her father, when he was flush with money.
He had been a charmer when Lady Luck was on his side, and he would splash out money like a high roller, even though he had only been a small-time gambler compared to the whales that frequented casinos. That had led to her dad getting in deep with several loan sharks. It had only been after his death from lung cancer, just days before her eighteenth birthday, that they’d learned how much he’d gambled.
The Jokers Wild Casino was probably one of the few on the Vegas Strip where she could enter without her last name being recognized. Most of them had repeatedly kicked her father out after he’d lost too much and become belligerent.
She signaled to change lanes, cutting off a sports car whose driver honked at her, but she just waved and muttered thanks under her breath, then turned just as the light switched to yellow.
Of course, there were no spaces near the front of the grocery store she’d promised her grandmother she’d stop at before her meeting, and she really didn’t have time to drive up and down looking for a good spot, so she pulled into the first empty one she saw and then grabbed her purse as she got out. This was insane.
Her phone was blowing up with messages from a group chat she was in with the Sexy Silvers. It seemed her Gran had a hot lunch date with Glen View retirement village’s version of Zac Efron. He was charming, good-looking and had managed to use those two things to work his way through many of the women in the senior community. Gran was susceptible to his charm—she’d mentioned more than once that she thought he was hot. Talia shook her head and grudgingly smiled. Yeah, her Gran wasn’t the sit home and knit type. She kept her hair dyed jet black and styled, and wore cooler clothes than even Talia did. But as hip as Gran thought she was, Talia knew she was also a bit old-fashioned when it came to men. Gran’s date was at six. The charmer didn’t eat during the early-bird menu hours, so that meant that Talia would have time to make it home before her grandmother left, if she hurried.
She picked up another pair of stockings so she could change before her interview, then walked toward the area of the store where she knew they sold condoms. Gran didn’t need a STD.
She paused in front of the selection. There were a lot of choices.
She grabbed her phone and texted her best friend Sami.
Talia: Which condoms are the best?
Sami: Hot damn, girl! Do you have a date?
Talia: Gran does. I’m late for my interview. Wine and whine tonight?
Sami: Yes. I don’t know on the condoms. Most guys have a preference. I guess you can’t get Gran to ask. <laughing eyes emoji>
Talia: No. TTYL
She grabbed the first box her fingers touched as she turned on her heel and bumped into someone solid. The impact jarred her entire body and she felt the box slip from her fingers as she glanced up into eyes that were blue. The kind of blue that dominated the sky on a clear spring day. He had thick lashes and his eyebrows were dark brown and neatly groomed, she noted, as one of them arched.
She backed away and shook her head.
“I’m sorry. In a bit of a hurry,” she said, bending to pick up the condoms. Then she realized he might think she was rushing to have sex. “It’s not what you think.”
He winked at her. “None of my business.”
She just shook her head and moved around him and down the aisle toward the self-checkout. She glanced at her watch.
Five minutes later, she was opening the door to her ten-year-old hatchback that had seen better days. She stood next to the car for a minute, letting the heat escape, then glanced up at the sound of the low growl of an expensive engine. She’d worked the car show one year as a model when she’d been sixteen, so she was pretty sure the vehicle was a Bugatti Veyron. She’d been thrilled when her father had gotten her the gig…until she’d found out that she’d been working to pay off one of his debts.
The car pulled to a stop next to her and the passenger window slid down slowly. “Need a lift?”
“Uh, no. Thanks. Just letting my car cool down before I get in,” she said. “Nice ride.”
“I won it in a card game last weekend,” he said.
A wave of disappointment went through her and she shook her head. Of course he was charming and hot, but none of that mattered now.
“You’re a gambler,” she said. Gran said not everyone who placed a bet was like her dad, but she wasn’t going to take the chance.
“Wow. I’ve never heard so much loathing in one word before,” he said.
He was driving a Veyron and was no doubt flush most of the time. Not like her father, who hadn’t ever really had money unless he’d been to visit one of his loan sharks.
“I’m a responsible—”
“Let me stop you there,” she said. “I know that gambling only hurts those with no self-control.” She turned to look inside her car. “I think I’m good to go now. It’s been interesting meeting you.”
“You too, brown eyes,” he said before he drove away. She watched him leave for another minute before she got in her own car and drove away.
Her pre-interview session was due to start in fifteen minutes, so she had to hurry to the Jokers Wild Casino. She ran inside and checked in before asking for the ladies’ room. She changed her hose and then touched up her lipstick.
She needed this job.
Just like her dad had needed the dice to hit seven or eleven every time he threw them. Desperation. She had to shake it off.
She looked at herself in the mirror, meeting her own brown gaze.
“You got this.”
Jokers Wild was the key to her finally getting out of Vegas. And that was something she’d wanted for a long, long time.
One Night Gamble is the first book in a new series about three casino owners and friends. Casey, the gambler of the trio, has a meet cute in the condom aisle of a grocery store with Talia, the woman who’s on her way to an interview with his company (but stopping for pantyhose–for her–and condoms–for her grandmother–as one does). She interviews with company underlings, it goes well, she celebrates in his casino that night (for research, of course), they have a one night stand, and the next morning when she interviews with the owners–you know where this is going, right?
For the most part, this was an I liked it, but… kind of story. I liked Casey and Talia together, but things between them moved really fast, especially considering he was her boss. At one point they already felt like an established couple nearly at their HEA, until I realized that I was only at about 60% in the book! You know going in that Talia’s going to have some major emotional and psychological hangups with their relationship because of her past–she’s the daughter of a gambling addict, and he’s a poker player at heart–which seems like a great source of conflict, right? It is, but it seemed to take way too long for her to really commit to it, so that by the time she does it felt a bit overblown and reactionary. A kind of why is this suddenly bothering you now?kind of thing–it was like everything he’d been trying to show her all along suddenly meant nothing. For his part, Casey’s problems with Darien (one of the other co-owners and best friends) seemed a bit over-the-top and too little too late by the time they become a real issue–maybe we just don’t see him enough until that point for it to seem like a big deal?–but suddenly they’re a big part of why Casey and Talia are calling it quits?
So…a whole lot of I liked it, but… There were some pretty funny moments, and a whole lot of sexy times, and the three friends at the heart of the casino all sound really interesting in their own rights. Darien’s (a stuntman/ daredevil) clearly going to have a second chance romance plot to his story, though the epilogue here lets us know that Nick (the illusionist) will have his story next, and I’ll be keeping a eye out for that one to see if there’s more I liked it than buts… in book two. 😉
Rating: 3 stars / C+
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About the author:
USA Today bestselling author KATHERINE GARBERA writes emotionally sexy contemporary romances. An Amazon, BN & iBooks bestseller, she is also a two-time Maggie winner and has more than 7 million copies of her books sold worldwide.
To celebrate the release of ONE NIGHT GAMBLE by Katherine Garbera, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 1/18/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted.