4 stars out of 5
This one caught my eye a few months back when it was offered as a freebie through BookBub. A heroine who is a professional poker player and sometimes gets herself in too deep somehow sounded appealing, and while I've not read anything else by this author, she has enough writing creds that I decided to go for it. But then, it got stuck on the back burner until now, when I remembered to look through my list of downloaded books to see what turned up. After re-reading the description and checking other reviews, I spun the wheel - and by golly, it came up a winner in my book.
The gambler, Anna Dawson (aka Johanna, Hanna, Jo, JoJo or whoever she needs to be on any given day), lives in Las Vegas with a small group of elderly guys (no, nothing kinky going on here) and an older woman who takes on something of a housemother role. As Anna is taking a financial bath with her latest bet on a sporting event - her track record in this area isn't all that great - one of her friends is murdered and another narrowly misses the same fate. Somehow, she must figure out a way to avoid broken kneecaps courtesy of her loan shark as well as help a sexy detective figure out who's trying to kill off her friends without letting him in on her gambling predicament.
Of course, there's romance involved - and the detective brings his own shaky past to the bedroom to complicate things a bit. And as Anna tries to figure a way out from under her debt, an alter ego makes another appearance that could change the course of her already on-the-edge life forever.
For the record, I did find a few run-on sentences and other grammar glitches, the latter of which may be a result of transition to the Kindle format, but for the most part they didn't stomp too hard on my journalist/copy editor sensitivities. I did find it interesting that parts of the book are set in Pittsburgh - not far from where I live. As for the whodunit and why, it came mostly as a surprise except for one important part, which I'd guessed but didn't know how it fit in till the end.
Speaking of the end, I suppose it was a foregone conclusion given that Anna moves on to another book, but it didn't make me terribly happy. That said, now I'm looking forward to Book No. 2 in this series, Against the Spread. Game on!
Against the Odds by Mara Jacobs (Copper Country Press LLC, September 2012); 276 pp.