***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato
All or Nothing by Rose Lerner
This was easily my favorite short story in this anthology and not just because it had a Jewish character and a bi character. There is just something about Rose Lerner’s story-telling style that manages to sweep you off your feet and make you so invested in a story that not even extreme tiredness can stop you from finishing. Her stories are always engaging and rarely ever have dull moments. All or Nothing tells the story of struggling architect Simon Radcliffe-Gould who is starting to feel burned out because he really cannot seem to make a living off of his chosen career. He wins a bet that allows him to ‘have’ Maggie da Silva for the time period in which her best friend (and sexual partner) is gone taking care of business and instead of taking advantage, he basically takes her to his ex flame’s house party so he doesn’t have to deal with him and his advances. Basically, a slow burn kind of romance happens between Maggie and Simon as they learn more about each other and sparks fly. YAY.
The Liar’s Dice by Jeannie Lin
This short story was really fucking great. It wasn’t my favorite but it came really really close. It isn’t as romance oriented, focuses more on the mystery aspect, is set in China (AND NOT IN the UK/US where most HRs seem to be set) and has a wonderful, dark atmosphere. The subtle romance is just enough to get my heart beating and I REALLY REALLY want an entire novel with the two main characters of this short story. I need to know all the things about them. Either way, I know I have a new author to add to my TBR list.
Raising The Stakes by Isabel Cooper
I don’t really know how I felt about Raising the Stakes. I don’t usually mind magic in my HRs but the magical elements in this short don’t really work for me. Sam, the mc, is pretty darn awesome and badass in that she is a con artist but Talathan--who is fae (I think???)--does not work for me at all as a character. I have 0 emotional attachment to him and therefore care nothing about his presence and contribution to the story. I do think that is just a ‘me’ thing though.
Redeemed by Molly O’Keefe
If you like tortured heros and heroines, this short will 100% be for you. The best part about this short story is that just because the characters are ‘tortured’ doesn’t mean they are angsty. O’Keefe does a great job of characterizing them through and outside their torturedness. They have legit reasons to be the way they are given the horrors they have lived through but they also exist outside of those bad things. They can both be charming, sweet, courageous and awesome. The best thing about this short story is that even though is technically a short story, it is well plotted and well thought out. It functions like an entire novel instead of just a short novella that leaves you wanting more. Basically Redeemed is another winner for this anthology.
Gideon and the Den of Thieves by Joanna Bourne
In theory, I like a lot about this short story but really, I struggled with it because it almost seemed too lengthy. This short story is exciting, features a rescue and lots of other fun things but I literally did not connect with the MC and the love interest. They seemed very bland and more like plot devices than actual characters. It makes sense because the plot of this short is great but the characters made it so that I couldn’t actually enjoy this short in the ways I wanted to. That isn’t to see that all the characters sucked but the two that I should have liked, I couldn’t and that made it really hard to enjoy this story.
Overall, with me more than liking ⅗ of the short stories in this anthologies, I can safely say that Gambled Away is a winner. It features diversity of characters and locations and very well worth the read if you love your Historical Romance as much as I do!
Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review