The Gamble, Alice Ward

The Gamble by [Ward, Alice]

I think the best part about this particular book is that the drama wasn't piled on. There could have been so much to get in their way, but the plot was relatively simple enough that the relationship they were trying to build/not build remained the focus. It allowed us to really see these people and their own struggles and how they came together despite their differences and the not-so-obvious obstacles.

Obstacles in the form of parents are always tricky. The villainous father, the sick mother, both of them were a bit unpredictable in terms of finding a solution but what was done here was actually perfect. I was imagining a ton of scenarios where the father was as bad as he was but in different ways, ways that were more insidious. I LOVED how Dani reacted to the father at dinner. She's quietly amazing. With her mother things were more heartbreaking than anything. Nothing as intensely as devastating as in The Hunt, but not any less difficult because of the struggles that go along with the disease. Overall, the outcomes of both situations were pretty great, really well thought out and realistic in their conclusions.

As for the romance, however, I wish there were more of a marked turning point for Talen and Dani to go from fake to desiring more. We see it begin with immense attraction and intense desire but where things deepen, it feels like I skipped a page or two and missed where things actually changed. I knew it needed to and would change, but how it did wasn't as satisfying as I hoped it would be. The way that things came together was difficult to read, in a good way, because Talen had so many things to overcome in his own mind. Dani was a bit simpler because she knew she needed to stand on her own and had all the independent spirit to do so, it was just hard to see her denying herself out of fear. Confessions, though, were tender, sincere, and honest. I loved seeing them finally admitting to everything they felt, not just to themselves, but to one another.

At the very beginning I was interested, when the morning after came I was a bit less interested because of the Hangover elements, but as the story progressed I was invested. Talen was so "lost little boy", Dani was a bit of the "damsel in distress", and both of these characters had the perfect hole in their lives and hearts that were almost tailor made for one another. Such a great story, seeing these two overcome their struggles and finding solace and healing in their partnership.

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