This is a review for the 2nd edition of this shortish novella, which was expanded prior to re-release.
I read this for the first time quite a while back, shortly after reading Double Blind, because I simply had to know how Randy and Ethan would handle their first Christmas in Vegas together.
Ethan now owns and runs the Herod Casino, and Randy still works the floor, and bakes cookies. They both miss spending time with Mitch and Sam, and are preparing for the Christmas shenanigans at the casino.
In previous years, pre-Ethan, Randy used to be the life of the party, the highlight of the entertainment, which, if you've read Double Blind, you'll know, served basically to hide his longing for something permanent, someone that was his alone.
Ethan hasn't got that memo. He's still hung up on the fact that all the tales around the Christmas shenanigans of years prior kind of involved Crabtree a lot, and it doesn't help his jealousy that a) Crabtree still hangs around the casino all the time, and b) Crabtree and Randy did the dirty quite a few times before Ethan even came to Vegas. Of which Crabtree only happily reminds him every chance he gets.
So Ethan is struggling - on one hand he wants Randy to feel free to do as he pleases, and on the other hand, he doesn't want to let Crabtree fuck with his peace of mind.
The story is both kinky fun and emotionally tugging on your heart strings. You can't help but feel for Ethan's struggles, even though you know that his jealousy is unfounded. And Randy, heart of gold Randy, is unwilling to risk the amazing relationship he's built with Ethan and thus becomes almost a pawn in the power play between Ethan and Crabtree.
You can feel the wave building and you know it'll crash and drown them both, but then... well, you read this for yourself.
There's a scene toward the very end - gah. I had tears in my eyes, even the second time around, even when I knew what was coming, because, damn, this author just delivers the goods in such a beautiful way.
I have a real soft spot for Randy. While he and Ethan aren't my favorite couple from this series (that honor goes to Mitch and Sam), Randy is my favorite character. There are layers upon layers to him, and only a very select few ever get to see the real him, the boy who was kicked out at home for being gay, who climbed his way out of the gutter by the skin of his teeth, who learned to hide his pain behind an easy smile and a lot of snark - that boy just wants to be loved and wanted and belong to Ethan.
Anyway, before I turn you off with my gushing about Randy - read this book. It fits neatly between book 2 and 3, as intended, and gives us a good look at their happy ever after.
** I received a free copy of this book from its author upon re-release in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **