Title: Even Money
Author: Alessandra Torre
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Cover Design: Najla Qamba Designs
Release Date: 4th June, 2018
Sometimes it only takes a minute. A connection of eyes across a room, and everything changes.
I was a cocktail waitress with a fondness for partying and meaningless sex. He owned half of Vegas, with the reputation to match.
I should have turned away. Instead, I stepped closer.
Then, the lies started.
And someone died.
None of it stopped me from falling in love.
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★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse
Now, this is when I get seriously serious when recommending a book! I love intrigue, killer twists and a solid plot to go with it. Even Money has everything I look for in a good read and it can only be described as mind-blowing. But what caught my attention more than anything and undoubtedly difficult for authors brave enough to be able to pull it off, was the narrative in first and third person. And Torre didn’t do it well…oh no, she did it with a finesse that went beyond bridging perfection! Apart from that, her character development simply wowed the pants off me. What I really liked were the protagonists contrasting personalities and how the author got over to me a chemistry so strong but so wrong on all levels. Certainly, how they hopelessly tried to resist their attraction kept me on my toes throughout the read. It was a case of will or won’t they take the jump well-knowing nothing would ever be the same again. In other words, the odds were stacked against them.
To begin with, I misjudged Dario Capece. Therefore learning about him was a joy in itself. He has less to say than the female protagonist, but if there were actions in this story which surprised me more, he was the owner of them. Compassion is not just one of his many positive traits that ticked all my boxes, either. His dark streak…yeap, this man is badass personified and swoon-worthy to boot! There’s not only a price attached to achieving his ambition, but also for protecting someone he cares deeply about. What he had done I found admirable and understandable but when things become distorted, it was like waiting for a time bomb to go off.
“You seem complicated. And I … I like my life as it is right now.”
“I liked things how they were last week. But then I met you, and now, things are different.”
It was a fluke Dario ever meet Bell Hartley. They do say there’s no place like Vegas, that everything stays there. And if secrets are discovered, one would assume they’d be guarded! Hmm…such as is his style of living, there’s no room for complications, no room for juggling lies or even less, playing dangerous games. He has to stay true to himself and safeguard what he’d built up over the years. His conscience warned him; boundaries had been set and up until now, it had never crossed his mind to overstep the mark, to tread on dangerous ground.
“I’m making room for you in my life.”
“You shouldn’t have. And I’m not entirely sure you actually have.”
So when Dario and Bell catch each other’s eyes, an undercurrent of feelings leave them confused. And believe you me, in all the narrative I was, on the one hand, captivated, but on the other, worrying my little head off! Angst-ridden scenarios had me holding my breath in anticipation for what could come next, so get prepared for a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Despite Bell’s internal struggle, this didn’t stop me connecting with her. Her sassy attitude I liked a hell of a lot. She’s strong-minded, hard-working, but living the moment. Her idea of having fun is partying and at best; studying for a career, extracurricular activities with no strings attached included. Working for two gorgeous nerdy guys who know her better than herself, who are more like brothers and look out for her, give her sound advice. Whether or not she takes it remains to be seen.
“Forbidden love? You’re so dramatic. Love and I aren’t even in the same hemisphere right now.”
I adored the age difference between Dario and Bell. It gave a realistic touch and something I can easily relate to. And although the juiciest scenes are held back, the book’s pace is thrilling, fast and makes the book difficult to put down. Here folk is where I have to stop because it would be totally unfair to let on when this read is overflowing with every unimaginable happening.
“If I have you, I’ll never be able to let you go.”
Questions arise. Is it possible for someone to find their soulmate in a fleeting glance? Should a man with so much experience let his heart rule his head, being aware the hurt it could cause? The answers you’ll find out in Even Money. However, the ginormous twist at the end opened Pandora’s box even wider and had me screaming out loud for the second book in the All In Duet. Thankfully, Double Down is coming soon! Bravo Torre!
The front room was the most boring room in The House. It was decked out with industrial grey carpet, a metal detector, a bank of lock boxes, and the main attraction—Tim and Jim. Those weren’t their real names, but they refused to make small talk with anyone, so that’s what we had coined them. Where Lloyd was the friendly big guy with the fists of steel, they were the ex-Special Forces assholes who everyone hated. I stepped into the room, nodded to the closest one, then turned to Dario Capece with a smile.I should have checked the monitors first. Peeked through the security peephole. Done something to give myself more warning.
I had been expecting a dozen things. A suit. A scowl. A bodyguard. An expensive watch. Closed lips and wandering eyes. A sexist remark or friendly hands.
I hadn’t been expecting something to yank in me when our eyes met. A
pull of need before his mouth even opened. The wary look in his eyes that matched everything in my heart.
He was handsome, but it wasn’t even his looks. There was something between us immediately, and I stepped back in hopes that it would fade. It didn’t.
“Mr. Capece.” I managed. “Welcome to the house.”
His mouth curled into a smile, but his eyes didn’t. They were old eyes. Ones that studied me as if I was a book they’d already read. A critical, fleeting look. Been there. Read that. He glanced to the side, at Tim. “Watch your fucking hands.”
Tim moved carefully, patting down his legs, then his arms. He nodded to the metal detector, and Mr. Capece walked forward, arms up, then collected his phone and wallet.
“Will your men be playing also?” I rested a hand on the doorknob, wondering if we should wait for them to be checked.
“No.” His first word to me, and it was muttered as he looked over his shoulder and to his security. “Wait in the car.”
There was a small and silent battle. One where they questioned his decision with a tilt of their heads. He turned away, back to me, and the battle ended.
I pressed on the door, and we entered the hall.
“We have blackjack and poker,” I explained, walking slightly ahead of him, the hallway too narrow to allow anything else. “There are only six slot machines, but they are all high limit.” He was tall, my shoulder the height of his chest, my chin lifting up to make sure he heard me. “The cage allows markers of up to a million dollars, but exceptions are common. On different nights, we do have speciality games, and craps on the weekend.” It is a long speech for a man who doesn’t play, and I pause at the entrance to the cave. “Should I have chips pulled for you?”
He let his eyes drift over the room, and I followed his lead, wondering what his impression was of the space. The ‘house’ was a converted garage, one with floor to ceiling curtains around its perimeter, crystal chandeliers hanging from its faux ceiling, marble floors and enough opulence to hold its own with an high-roller room in town, his included. Granted, we didn’t have the largest hotel in town behind it, or his fifty thousand square feet of tables, but we had more whales in this room than anywhere in town. I saw his gaze linger on a few faces. “There is a bar in the next room, if you are just here to socialize. It is an invitation-only space.” I didn’t state that he had an invitation. That, in any circle in Vegas, was a given. Dario Capece, the poor kid from Pennsylvania, had been given the keys to the city when he’d married June Plymouth, the heiress to the Majestic Casino. He’d turned those city keys into golden handcuffs when he’d turned the struggling Majestic into the hottest address on the Strip. Now, Vegas was his playground, his kingdom, his supermarket. In the ten years since he’d married into money, he’d bought three more casinos and his legend had only grew.
“I’d like to speak to your boss.” His words were quiet, but I knew they were being picked up by the hidden mikes, set into every seam of this building. He turned to me and I felt unstable, a scrap of paper loose in a hurricane. I wanted to swing into his arms and clutch him for balance. I wanted to turn away and run and never look back.
It was unnatural, my body’s reaction to him. Did everyone feel this way? Is this how he captured our city so easily, is this how he filled thousands of hotel rooms and seduced the best talent into his workforce?
I reached out, resting my hand on the railing and forced myself not to grip it for dear life. “I’m afraid that isn’t possible. My employer isn’t here tonight.”
“Ah.” He nodded, and stepped closer to me. “I don’t believe you.”
I forced myself not to move, not to step back. Only, this close to him, I could smell his cologne. I could feel the edge of his pants as the brushed against my bare thighs. I lifted one shoulder in the most casual way I could and shrugged. “Sometimes people don’t.”
It was a risky move, and I thought of all of the stories I’d heard, men who had lost body parts, or disappeared, all for playing the wrong way, counting the wrong cards, or saying the wrong thing. I met his eyes, tightened my gut, and prepared for the worst.
Then, he laughed. Stepping away from me, turning to the main floor, his hands resting on the railing, the edge of a grin visible on that handsome face. He really was beautiful, in a fierce, wild way. Short dark hair, littered with silver. Big, strong features, a broken nose, but handsome lines. He looked like a pretty boy who grew into a man and beat the shit out the kid he’d once been. He looked like a night full of filthy, delicious sex, and a string of orgasms that would leave you panting and delirious. He looked untouchable.
He turned his head and the hint of a smile still touched his lips. “Ballsy. I like that.”
I said nothing, then turned, a soft touch at my elbow. Lance stood there, his hoodie and workout shorts replaced with a dress slacks and a button-up shirt. I raised my eyebrows, and he leaned forward, kissing me on the cheek. “I’ll take it from here, B.”
“Nice outfit,” I said quietly, before he pulled away from me. I gave him a small smile and stepped away from the railing. I nodded to the visitor. “I will let you two speak. Would you care for a drink?”
“A Coke, if you have it.”
I tilted my head. “Certainly.” I turn from them, moving down the steps and to the main floor, bee-lining for the bar, and shaking my head when Britni shot me a quizzical look. I grabbed a tumbler and fixed Lance’s usual, then grabbed a glass and filled it with ice, opening one of the small bottles of Coke and pouring the contents atop the ice.
I glanced up, at the entrance balcony where I’d left the men. Lance had moved them further down, to an area where they could speak privately, yet still see the action. Lance got twitchy when he couldn’t see the floor. Dario Capece leaned his forearms on the railing, his head turned to Lance. They looked friendly, and I wondered what they were discussing. He turned his head straight and his gaze connected with me and held. His mouth moved, and I saw Lance’s gaze drop to me. I turned away, stacking the items on the tray, adding the dark purple House napkins. I stalled for a moment, taking a steadying breath before I hoisted the tray on my shoulder and headed for the stairs.
About Alessandra Torre
Alessandra Torre is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of fourteen novels. Her books focus on romance and suspense. Torre has been featured in such publications as Elle and Elle UK, as well as guest blogged for the Huffington Post and RT Book Reviews. She is also the Bedroom Blogger for Cosmopolitan.com.
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