I finished this book yesterday and still can't settle between a 2 and a 3 stars' rating. The first half was noticeably better than the second IMO, even though there was little to no romance there. Still, the writing was very good and both main characters were likeable until that point. However, when the heroes let go of blackjack and 21
lessons, and start indulging in their passion and need, the book surprisingly took a turn for the worse for me. The hero who was nice until then, if a little maudlin, became a self-righteous martyr without compare. He's an honorable gentleman with no room for mistakes, caring and selfless to boot; at least that's what he thinks. Instead, he makes one stupid action after the other, dragging the heroine through the mud in the process while trying to 'help' her. Well, the motto 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions' certainly applies in his case.
The heroine was more likable than the hero and much more practical too. However, she treats sex as a weapon to control men and through all their sex scenes (I refuse to call them love scenes), she didn't seem able to change that. Thus, their sex scenes became unerotic, almost repulsive for me, in their lack of emotion.
All in all, a strange book with a definitely original plot and execution (the heroine is another man's mistress for the most part and we even read their sex scenes together and how she enjoyes them). Emotionally though it didn't touch me and I blame the focus on the card games and the lack of emotion in the sex scenes for that. I'm intrigued enough to read another book by the same author, but I have to make sure the plot is to my taste first.