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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Play Me by Tricia Jones

Play Me by Tricia Jones
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (168 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Fern

The cards have been dealt, but the game’s just begun…

Proving her worth to her male-dominated family didn’t include being forced to bet herself in a high-stakes poker game. But to save the family business and protect her father’s health, Nina Avalon is prepared to do anything. Even agree to a scandalous wager with a ruthless tycoon.

Sicilian billionaire Raul Stregone has revenge on his mind. When the opportunity to ruin the family who destroyed his drops in his lap, Raul plans to wreak his vengeance via the boardroom—and the bedroom—with the daughter of his adversary. Yet while he may have won her fair and square, it soon becomes apparent that she’s not going down without a fight.

But let her wrangle all she wants. One way or another, he plans on collecting his winnings.

Play Me is a story about a man out for vengeance and a woman that wants to prove her worth. When they face-off in a card game, the stakes are raised and the risks become more substantial. If Nina wins, she’ll recover the percentage of her father’s company her brother has lost. If Raul wins, he’ll see his plan for revenge come to fruition by claiming not only a share of the business, but Nina as well.

While the premise isn’t entirely new, I thoroughly enjoyed the voices of Raul and Nina, as well as the history that has unwittingly connected them. Raul is a man that you want to hate but can’t entirely seem to. Even when he’s at his worst and reminds Nina that she is little more than a possession to be used at his leisure, you detect his unease at using an innocent party in such a manner–even as it will prove a means to an end. Nina, on the other hand, is a woman that is willing to sacrifice herself in order to spare her ailing father. The symbolism isn’t missed, and you’ll be pulled into the story because of it. As you learn more about their combined histories, you’ll ache for Raul as much as you do for Nina. The balance is always shifting, and will challenge your opinion of not only Raul, but Nina as well.

The pace of the material lags at times, but memorable characters and their extenuating circumstances make up for it and keep your interest. It’s impossible for Raul and Nina not to care for one another, which makes the train-wreck ahead all the more painful. You know what’s coming after the storm, but what you don’t know is if Nina can find it in her heart to forgive the man that has used her so callously, and if he’ll be able to do the right thing to ensure she gives him a second chance. The build-up is done wonderfully, and you’ll be waiting on the edge of your seat to learn what happens next.

Romantics will love this story, and should be sure to pencil Play Me on their TBR list.