An illegal, off-campus gambling party has Jade bored to tears until she finds herself in the betting pool and in the sights of the game's winner. But even though Shep's got more money than most of us could ever imagine — and the swagger to back it up — Jade's no piece of property to be passed around. He may have won her, but it will take a hell of a lot more than good looks, lines, and charms to win her over.
Judging Covers: Well… I guess the font is cute? It's really a pretty boring cover, if I'm being totally honest, and I browsed right past it the first several times it came into view. The flat white text against light skin tone doesn't do it any favors, and…well, there's just not really anything there to make me notice, much less think it's a book I'd want to read. Fortunately, my calendar was pretty bare, leading me to go back through all the books I'd been offered that I hadn't paid any attention to, and the whole bet concept piqued my curiosity. But still… I hate to see a good story languishing behind such a dull design.
I suppose I should also mention that the interior formatting was a bit off for me as well. I suspect it's because I have to increase the text to “blind old lady” size on my Kindle, which led to the POV markers showing up at the bottom of the previous page instead of at the beginning of each character's take on the chapter. It didn't ruin the reading experience at all — it was just weird.
The Verdict: After reading the synopsis, I have to admit that I expected this story to go horribly wrong. I mean, any relationship that starts out with a bet is bound to be fraught with cliches, and given the premise, I pretty much expected Jade to be a doormat. I requested the book, though, on the off chance that an author might finally get this kind of plot right, and I do believe I lucked out!
While Jade's boyfriend bets her in a high stakes poker game, this girl is no pushover. She's already pissed off the guy he's up against, and (as any woman in this century would hope) she's not about to play along when he loses. I was initially a little disappointed that she didn't just stand up and storm out, but it turns out that her reaction was worth waiting around for. There's a strong physical attraction between her and Shep, the guy who “won” her, but his rich boy persona kills that off before she can even consider it.
On the surface, Shep is the stereotypical poor little rich boy. He has everything he wants that money can buy, but it's all pretty empty. He does have a cousin and good friend who are pretty much in the same boat he's in, so he's not entirely alone. But he's good looking and loaded, so he bed-hops and parties and doesn't give any real thought to taming his ways. His bet over Jade is clearly the product of extreme boredom. It's not like he really expected to own her or anything, but when money means so little, figuratively throwing her in the pot makes things more interesting. It's clear that he's just looking for something to break the monotony and to show up the guy across the table from him, and Jade… Well, she's just there.
The bet serves as little more than a way to introduce these two, but I have to say it's a great concept. It brought out Jade's fiery and independent side, piqued Shep's interest, and got rid of the boyfriend all in one fell swoop. Jade's lack of any real interest in Shep made her a challenge for him, but since she refused to fall at his feet or really even treat him with any deference, he began to see her as more than just another girl.
With the attraction already there, the relationship with these two heated up very quickly, even though they didn't just throw caution to the wind and jump into bed together. Some ill-timed interruptions helped them keep their heads on straight, even as they spent more and more time together. And while there were about a thousand places where this story could have gone down some all too familiar paths, Monica Murphy keeps it fresh and real throughout. It's really impossible to explain what's so great about this couple without simply retelling the whole story, so I'll just say that Jade is down-to-earth and easy to relate to, while Shep doesn't play the entitled, rich, jerk card that one might expect. I went into the story holding out for that small chance that I'd enjoy it, and I ended up loving it. Now I just need the rest of the series!