Gambled Away by Rose Lerner, Jeannie Lin, Isabel Cooper, Joanna Bourne, and Molly O’Keefe #Review

Gambled Away by Rose Lerner, Jeannie Lin, Isabel Cooper, Joanna Bourne, and Molly O’Keefe #ReviewGambled Away by Isabel Cooper, Jeannie Lin, Joanna Bourne, Molly O'Keefe, Rose Lerner

Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Indie/Self Published on May 31, 2016
Pages: 600
Format: eARC
Buy: Amazon
four-half-stars
four-flames

Some might remember that I reviewed part of this anthology a little while back.  I wanted to be able to share some significant thoughts because those first two I read hit me right between the eyes and brief little sum-ups would not work for me.  Here’s the link to my earlier review on the other two books if you missed it:  http://delightedreader.com/gambled-away-by-rose-lerner-isabel-cooper-jeannie-lin-molly-o-keefe-and-joanna-bourne-review/

Well as promised, here are my thoughts on the rest of the novellas in the book.  Let’s just say this antho was a Full House for me, a dominant hand of authors, and a winner all around.  I had previously thought that two authors were new to me, but oopsie, it turned out that only one was.

Just as a refresher, this is a historical romance anthology and the theme is gambling.  The authors were creative and with most the gambling theme was so much more than a literal game.  Most of the stories are standalone, but even the two that weren’t, can be read as such.

So, here are the last three I read which so happen to be the first three in the book:

All or Nothing by Rose Lerner 4 stars
A bawdy story about a Jewess running a London gaming house with her lover and the young architect who falls for her. Simon has to go to his former lover’s house party where he’ll work on a folly. After winning Maggie’s services in a bet, he decides having her come as his mistress will give him a buffer from his host and the other guests.

Both are trying to find themselves and ashamed of their secret kinks and needs. The time at the house party reveals surprising possibilities about being together. This is a high heat story set against the Regency period.  Well developed shades of gray characters with a heroine open about her sexual needs and desires and a hero that is learning to be. A little loose on the plot in that at first I wasn’t sure who the hero was romancing his host and best friend or his lady friend, but still an engaging story from start to finish though let me tell you, anything goes with this one.

The Liar’s Dice by Jeannie Lin 4.5 Stars
#2.5 Lotus Palace series
Wei-Ling lives a comfortable, sheltered life and her family is everything to her. And yet, she feels stifled by the societal constraints on women. She has a yearning for more knowledge, to hear and discuss ideas, and to see and do new things away from the confines of her family home. Her disguise as a young scholar and a night in a tea house leads to her presence near a murder, an investigation, a new acquaintance with the intriguing Gao, fears her oldest brother might be involved in the murder and back to gambling. Wei-wei follows the trail to the truth fearing its answers, but needing them even while she can’t keep Gao out of her thoughts.

I love the Lotus Palace series and was thrilled to get this follow up installment that tells the story of the hero from book one’s sister. Characters from both earlier books move through this shorter story. The color and culture of historical China were so well-drawn and I loved Wei as a narrator. Her thirst for knowledge and enough freedom to pursue it and her need to track down the truth about her brother and the murdered man along with her interest in a man from a lower class made for a great story. The end left things open-ended yet hopeful.  Won’t lie, I did want to see it carried through further with Wei and Gao.  I can’t wait to continue with more from the Lotus Palace series.

Raising the Stakes by Isobel Cooper 4 stars
A con-lady wins a magic flute in a poker game and it conjures an elf who is now her partner in swindling a swindler so she can pay off her family debt on the farm during Dust Bowl days of the 1930’s.

This was a fun one. The author created a cynical, but rascally heroine who has to pull a ‘Robin Hood’ to save her family. Her new elf partner is game for anything and the pair trick another type of con-artist. This was a fun and complete story, but I wistfully wish it was developed into a novel-length piece where backdrop for both characters could have been teased out more.

So, all together, this was a lovely variety of historicals from different settings, time periods, heat levels, and tones.  Each author had a distinct voice to their story and I could appreciate what each one brought to the table.  This will be no long shot for the historical romance lover.

My thanks to the authors for the opportunity to read the book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met: 

Romance Roundabout #216 HR
New to Me #91 author
Diversity #36
Bad Boy #26

About Isabel Cooper

Isabel Cooper lives in Boston with her boyfriend and a houseplant she’s kept alive for over a year now. She maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing. She only travels through time the normal way and has never fought a demon, but she can waltz.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Debbie Haupt

    Great review girlfriend and I love Jeannie Lin she’s also a local St. Louis author!

    • She has been a favorite for years since I first started reading her Tang Dynasty series. Oh you lucky dog to have her as a local author. 🙂

  • I really want this one, and as soon as I stop my book buying ban I’m gonna one click.

    • Yep! Toss it on the wish list when the book budget opens up. I think it will be a fun read for you, Lekeisha!

  • oh boy, I want to read this anthology so badly!!! And I love that there is a theme of gambling. Sounds fun. 🙂 Great mini reviews here.

    • This is great. You love historical romance in a variety of settings so I think this will hit the spot for you, Renee.

  • You got to know when to hold um, know when to fold um..oops sorry Kenny Roger’s was in my head. This sounds like a fantastic anthology Sophia!

    • Ha! That’s great. And I get Maverick on the mind when I first encountered this one. 🙂

  • Raising the Stakes sounds fun! I had this on my list after your review of the O’Keefe one but dang awesome to see the whole thing rocked it 🙂

    • Oh yes, this was a nice variety pack. Out of these three, the Raising the Stakes was a fun one. I liked the set up and it was creative with the magical part. It’s the heroine’s personality that really sells it, though.