But Izzy's convinced that Nick is bluffing and will fold his hand after he's had her on the flop. But a string of outrageous proposition bets and steamy trips on the poker tour, from Los Angeles to Miami, make these two fierce competitors realize that it may be time to put all their chips on the table. Will Izzy and Nick pair up? Or will they lose it all if they go all-in for each other? Sit down, ante up, and hang on, as Nick and Izzy get ready to Shuffle Up and Deal.
Type: Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 out of 5
Rating: 3 out of 5
Okay, so I know pretty much nothing about poker and don't think I know any actual poker players in real life and holy Moses I think I'm really glad about that. These guys are a trip and flipping mean to each other. It's pretty fun but lordy I'd be in tears with their teasing and the jokes they pull on each other.
Shuffle Up and Deal was an interesting book. There were some things I really enjoyed about it but there were also a couple things that made me a little twitchy along the way...
The story is pretty easy to get into. Basically Izzy is making a break into professional poker playing. At her first big tournament she some how how gets linked up with poker Pro and mega winner Nick Nolan who she's been crushing on for a while now. And then you get to watch her getting really into the world, get to meet some of the other professional players and see all of their antics and side bets with each other.
So, the things that really worked for me. First off, Nick. He's endearing, cocky, sweet, playful and yes he does screw up a little but I totally got why he did what he did. He's a great hero in an odd way and I just found myself loving him.
I also enjoyed the humor added in even if it was a little juvenile sometimes. It fit the characters and their lives and I appreciated that. I really liked the added in touch of "naughty-ness" that came from being in Vegas too. Some of the risque situations they got into and the boldness of so many of the characters. It's not your typical romance setting but I liked the different locale and feel to it all.
There were two things though that I had a hard time with though. The poker aspect and Izzy, the heroine. On the poker front I just don't get poker and wished the book had focused a little less on the actual mechanics of the game and went for the feel of it instead. When the characters would start talking which hands were better and poker terms and whatnot my eyes just glazed over. For an actual poker player though it'd probably work very well.
Now, Izzy was definitely one of the more frustrating heroines I've come across. She lets people walk all over her, makes the wrong decisions in most situations and backs down instead of standing up for herself (ex- accepting wrong drink orders from bartenders who bully her into taking them because she'll like them more than what she ordered, letting family members put her down, etc). I like my women strong. In real life and reading so for me it was a problem. It's fine if they start out that way and grow as the story progresses but Izzy had a hard time with that too. I'd think she was overcoming her issues and then she'd go right back into her old self and make terrible decisions. There was some major overreacting on her part too which, yeah, drove me nuts as well. But even with all of that by the very end I was pretty pleased with her and how she wound up. But, whew, it was a rough journey getting there.
The actually enjoyed their relationship. They've got a different vibe and can be a little snarky but in a good way most of the time. I liked how they were with each other and the way Nick encouraged Izzy and tried to make her better at the game. The sex scenes were...interesting too. Sometimes they're very innocent feeling and do the whole fade to black thing and then other times they're full out exhibitionism that completely embraced the whole "sin city" bit.
"I mean it," I tell her.
"Okay," she says again, still keeping eye contact.
"You have to learn to do this."
The openness of her eyes drops just a fraction, and this time, she says, "Okay" a little thicker.
"Right there," I say. "Right there you should've bluffed and kept saying what I wanted to hear."
"I did say it," she says, her jaw now set to the side.
"But you didn't make me believe it."
"I'll make them believe it," she says, and there's not a single hint of cocky or pissed. She says it with conviction, persuasively, trying to win me over. I smirk. "That's good," I tell her, knowing that she really wanted to tell me some variation of fuck off, but she completely sold me on the sweet act. "That's very good. Because some day, at the tables, you'll be across from me. And you'd better make me believe it then, too."
Still sweet, not even a tang of sarcasm to it, she says, "I'll fake it for you anytime you need me to, Nick."
"Come on!" I snap. "You're allowed to make the sexual innuendos and I'm not?
She mocks surprise. "I didn't intend that to be sexual. I didn't think you'd need a woman to fake it like that."
"Okay, then," she says, still full of sweetness. Then, without another word, she turns and enters the poker room.
I guess if we were keeping score, she'd have taken that hand.So a mixed reaction for this one. I liked the premise and quite a few aspects of the story so I'd definitely be willing to give DiPlacido another read in the future in the hopes of finding a heroine that meshed a little more with my tastes.
Get Your Copy
Susan DiPlacido is the author of 24/7, Trattoria, Mutual Holdings, House Money, Lady Luck, Shuffle Up and Deal, and American Cool. Trattoria was nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Small Press Romance 2005, and her short story, "I, Candy," won the Spirit Award at the 2005 Moondance International Film Festival. American Cool won the bronze medal in the 2008 IPPY awards and was a finalist in the 2008 Indie Book Awards. Shuffle Up and Deal was nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Small Press Erotic Fiction 2010. Her fiction has appeared in Susie Bright's Best American Erotica 2007, Maxim Jakubowski's Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica vol. 6 and 7, Zane's Caramel Flava, and Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Follow the Tour: HERE