- Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Onyx Books (Dec 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451410114
- ISBN-13: 978-0451410115
- Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.7 x 3 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,043,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The hero is Aaron Montana. He is running the family business, a gaming casino known as Golden Phoenix. He is a big, rugged man, not particularly handsome. By the size of him, you would expect him to be someone who is used to bullying his way to get what he wants. But in fact, it is just the opposite. Aaron is a wonderful leading man. He's smart, values his family, friends, and employees. His one big fault is his need to protect those who need it. He has the need to rescue people.
Our heroine is Shelby Wyatt. Shelby has been on the run since she was twelve. She has finally settled down thanks to the kindness of a woman who took her under her wing. Now that woman is threatened by blackmail that could destroy her marriage. Shelby isn't about to let that happen. By trying to help, Shelby gets involved in murder and is on the run from a man determined to find her.
Now, put a wonderful protective hero with a feisty heroine used to taking care of herself and watch things explode. The book has one of the neatest opening scenes that I have ever read. The moral to the opening scene should probably read if you ever want to keep a low profile, don't play the slot machines in a casino.
I expected this book to get bogged down in places with all the characters and everyone holding back information that could solve a crime. Ms. Dare didn't let that happen. I liked the ending. Even though Ms. Dare threw out clues to whom the murderer was, I missed picking up on them so the ending was a complete surprise.
It won't be the last.
The premise is interesting and nothing you've seen too often before. Shelby has been in the wrong place at the wrong time and is now on the run, (and this is not the first time she's been a runaway either.)
She ducks into a casino in a small town near Vegas, and just when she feels her luck has run out and the person after her might catch her, she gets a big run of good luck in the form of hitting a $25,000 jackpot at the slots. She is wary of the attention, afraid it will draw the person after her right to her, so she dashes off.
Aaron Montana, the owner and head of security at the casino, sees this and all of his "Save the Whale" instincts rise to the surface. Aaron has a penchant for saving wounded birds and the fear he sees in Shelby's eyes is something he can't ignore.
The two join forces, but each has their deep wounds. Can Shelby learn to trust in time to save her life?
The way Ms. Dare handles characterization was the best part of this book. Shelby and Aaron are characters you love, for all their wounds. You just want to hug them and make them feel good. The suspense is mimimal, compared to say, a Linda Howard book. Nothing dark and evil here, but it works for this book. This is a book about healing wounds and Ms. Dare does a fabulous job.
A really enjoyable read.
Aaron confronts Shelby, but does not stop her when she flees. He decides to track her down anyway and learns from the person standing next to her when she won the grand prize that she likes horses. He checks the nearby phone booth and finds she ripped out a page containing Outpost Flat Stables. Aaron goes there and persuades Shelby to hide in his hotel. He takes her to his secure apartment through a secret passage. Aaron wonders if Shelby killed Pruett, but she accuses him of wanting sex. Shelby begins to worry that the kind Aaron who she is beginning to love will die due to the murder she witnessed and her knowledge of who the killer is, but will she trust him with the truth?
Three-time RITA Award winner and a Reviewer Choice Award winner Justin Dare provides her vast audience with a powerful romantic suspense nobvel that never slows down from the moment Shelby plays the slots until the end. Though the male lead is too perfect (except for being an ultra hunk), the tale is non-stop action starring a feisty female whose loyalty to her "mom" happens to leave her in the right place at the wrong time. Readers will feel they won the jackpot with HIGH STAKES.
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