A bit of desperation setting in on the titles? Jack isn’t heartless and he isn’t a rebel. He isn’t a card sharp, either, he’s an investment manager.
Cara has been brought to Europe as a croupier for a special night, when her boss plans to scam a wealthy card player out of millions. Unfortunately, when it comes to the crunch, Cara can’t do it. Jack realizes that Cara is in trouble when he susses out what’s going on and risks his life to rescue her. He gets a beating for his pains. I wasn’t sure how Cara and Jack get out of this life-threatening situation, it just doesn’t work out right. The boss doesn’t seem to know who his customers are, which is highly unlikely in a high-stakes private card game and gets his goons to beat Jack to a pulp. Later on, Jack has no trouble getting what he wants from him. So that early part seems contrived, to say the least.
Cara is a croupier from a white-trash background, but she’s fighting to succeed. I like that about her. But I don’t find the set up entirely convincing, and then when Jack points out that her boss wouldn’t have let her go, her insistence on believing otherwise is rather annoying. She’s asked to wear an unusually sexy outfit, and then to cheat? She does it for unselfish reasons, of course, and then can’t go through with it. And she thinks she’ll get away with it?
Cara is a bit irritating in her naïveté, and she also has a trope I’m not particularly fond of – she’s supporting the family back home and she needs the money to care for them. Her New Orleans background is described, and her Cajun-style French came in useful in Paris, though, and that is fun, together with Jack’s arousal at the husky, less-than-crisp French. Because Jack tells her he’s no good and not to rely on him at the start of their affair, Cara takes that as gospel, rather than the fact that at the beginning, Jack had risked his life to rescue her. I find that pretty irritating. Cara isn’t a bright girl.
And they keep secrets from each other. Jack is fooling himself that he’s only helping a pretty girl and having a fun affair, while Cara refuses to face herself, as well as Jack. The conflict keeps going a bit too long. Until the reader, in this case me, is saying, “Just tell her already.”
Jack is not a card sharp, he just plays cards well. He is the typical fare for this line – a fabulously wealthy businessman, in his case an investments manager for himself and others, as well as the inevitable charities. I say inevitable, because that is a trope to show the inner goodness of the hero – he gives a lot to charities. He spends hours on investments. I do get a little tired with the comparison between card playing and other gambling to managing investments. If you manage investments like you play cards, then you’re doing it wrong and you’re not going to make any money, much less billions of dollars.
Jack is more interesting than Cara, but barely so, because in this book Harris relies a bit too much on the tropes. I wanted to see more of their characters and how they cope given that situation.
In this book, this parallel isn’t made directly, only that Jack likes taking risks. But it is dealt with too lightly for my liking, and I’d prefer more color in that part of the story to deepen the understanding of Jack’s character. It might be just me, but I’m left with a character, which, while fun to read, is only skin deep.
Jack…Red-Hot. Renegade. Restless.
Notorious gambler Jack no longer gets a buzz from the risks he takes at the card table. In fact it bores him. Until one night he wins more than he ever bargained for…
His prize is stunning Cara Taylor – she might be down on her luck but she certainly doesn’t need rescuing by a card-shark like Jack! Now she’s stuck with him she doesn’t know whether to love him or loathe him.
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