Gambler’s Choice  by Linda Nightingale

Who knew people involved in horse training and dressage could lead such complicated lives?!

What’s it About? 

gambler's choice

Becca McQuaid came to England to find the perfect horse but instead met a darkly mysterious challenge in Austen Heath, Baron of Hampton. She’s determined to buy Austen’s stallion Gambler’s Choice. He’s determined not to sell, but the rivals are thrown together by an accident that leaves Austen with a broken leg and the threat he’ll never ride again.

Austen Heath has the title, heritage and manor house…but not the fortune. Becca is wealthy. Her charms are irresistible, but he believes she’s shopping for a Ladyship to go with her money. He has another reason to hold the sexy blonde at arms’ length—the unexplained disappearance of an old friend everyone thinks was his lover. When her body is discovered on his property, he becomes a suspect in her murder. Then the killer begins stalking Becca. Who is the slayer haunting Hampton Hall? Is it the Baron of Hampton himself?

First Impressions

When I first started reading this novel, it sort of seemed like a pretty stereotypical and predictable romance. Becca is in town to buy a horse, and she eyes the perfect specimen with an owner who’s also mighty fine. Unfortunately, he doesn’t intend to sell his most prized possession. I figured she’d try to butter him up, wear down his defenses, and swoop in with her pocketbook. For the most part, everything was going according to plan, but then Austen’s crazy ex shows up, he’s being accused of murdering his childhood friend, and Becca is receiving threatening messages from an apparent stalker. Well, didn’t see that one coming! I guess I should have re-read the synopsis before starting this one. Although, maybe not because the suspenseful plot twist was wonderfully unexpected.

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Come Again? 

I personally really enjoyed this twist from sweet and romantic meet cute to murder mystery. The building of suspense was rather intense, and I found myself holding my breath and gripping my Kindle to the point of leaving fingerprints a few times. That being said, there were 2 plot features that kind of confused me.

Firstly, Becca is intent on buying Austen’s horse, Gambler’s Choice. She’s an extremely wealthy woman, and no price will stand in the way of getting what she wants. Becca needs to find a way to convince Austen to sell, and she eventually finds out that although the dashing Baron has a title, his estate is in dire straights. Rather than get to know him and offer a price that could help with his financial issues, she determines almost immediately that in order to get the prize horse she’ll seduce and sleep with Austen. Ummm, I’m missing something here. Why would he agree to sell you his horse after a quick romp in the hay? Wouldn’t he see through that ruse pretty quickly and kind of resent you for it?

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The second point that confused me a bit surrounded the mystery aspect of the story. Someone is clearly threatening Becca by leaving her written messages telling her to leave England, calling her phone stating that she’ll end up like Austen’s dead friend, setting her friend’s roses on fire, wrecking her car, and even threatening to harm Gambler. And yet, through all of this apparent stalking and harassment, they never mention anything to the police? Ok, I get that to keep the story interesting the police don’t necessarily have to be successful in capturing our criminal, but at least tell them what’s going on for goodness sake!

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Nope

Should you read it? I did enjoy the transition from a rather light and airy romance novel to an unexpected murder mystery. Kept things interesting! That being said, I pretty much guessed immediately who the stalker/threatener/killer was. It’s funny though, throughout the whole book I kept questioning if other people did it, thinking there’s no way the killer could be that obvious. In my opinion, it was kind of a let down that it was such a predictable villain.

Smut Level: I’ve discovered that 2 horse enthusiasts having sex in a romance novel is hotter than the Kentucky Derby in May! Why you ask? Because hot damn do they know how to ride each other!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 237 Pages.

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