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Friday, January 8, 2010

The Gamble by Lyncee Shillard

The Gamble by Lyncee Shillard
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Thriller
Length: Short Story (100 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

For as long as anyone can remember, the Dempskeys and the Stonewells have been at odds. JT Dempskey’s ruthless need to possess Rough Ride, the Stonewell’s ranch, carried beyond the grave and the edict of his will sets into motion a course of events that will change the lives of two people forever.

Ryder Dempskey wants nothing to do with his father’s sick scheme, until he sees Callie Stonewell and realizes he can’t walk away. Convinced that the ‘ends justify the means’, Ryder lies about his true reasons and convinces Callie the only way to save Rough Ride is to marry him.

Death threats, kidnappings, and attacks show Callie and Ryder that there is more at stake than their respective ranches… their lives could hang in the balance… just because a Dempskey and a Stonewell dare get married.

Too much could be lost if they walk away, and neither one of them bargained on the pull between them – even if they both prefer to deny it. Decades of lies culminate in revelations that will leave some stunned… and others dead.
Shillard's The Gamble opens with a funeral, but it is more combative than mournful. All the personal conflicts are quickly apparent and intriguing, right from the start. Shillard hastily reveals the dysfunctional family that makes up the cast of characters here. Our main character starts off as negative as any, even with all his efforts to distance himself from his not-close relatives. Ryder Dempsky, while he might be one of them, feels more anger and frustration than anything else. Interestingly enough, he’s hardly someone we sympathize with, and yet, right away, we are interested by him.

Ryder suspects his blue mood just might be improved with a casual dalliance (again, hardly endearing himself to the romance reader) but, for poor Ryder, even his pursuit of some casual hook-up is as much of a tangle as anything. Callie isnt about to be just a 'fling.'

Our heroine possesses as much of a nettlesome side as Ryder does, and imagining they might ever settle their differences is about as far-fetched as a rodeo cowboy becoming a race horse jockey. The mutual antagonism of our main characters provides for much of the story, with jolting, evocative dialogue. The plot here may not gain a lot of points for originality, but the way it all plays out is pretty unexpected. It helps that the setting so is so supremely well done.

However, some slower sections that indulge in backstory, especially in the opening chapters, slow the pace. Also, some lesser descriptions are boringly repetitive and overused ; a smile is always a dimple tugging at a cheek, or something similar; repetitive to the point of intrusion.

Still, this was overall intriguing and readable. Background at the old ranch and the horseracing scene are just right; believable backdrop for all the action. The story itself is well thought out and several characters are quite dynamic. All in all a solid read.