GAMBLING WITH LOVE is a fast-paced read with a lot of action. Generally, that is a good thing, but even Kay Spencer’s competent skills cannot save this novella.
At its core, GAMBLING WITH LOVE has a good story. Gambler Lainie Conrad is on a mission to avenge her husband’s murder, while her former lover, U.S. Marshall Nick Foster, is trying to bring her to Charleston to face murder charges. Their story is emotionally interesting and you really want to see them succeed.
Nick especially is a very likable character. He is confident and compelling with a strong moral center that gives him the appeal of a knight-in-shining-armor with a six-shooter in his holster. He seems to truly care about Lainie despite the fact she has a tendency to shoot him when she leaves him. It makes one wonder what it is about her that deserves Nick’s steadfast devotion.
Lainie, on the other hand, is at times focused to the point of stupidity. She is completely devoted to her mission. That kind of commitment is admirable when it is in moderation, but like with everything else, can be disastrous in excess. Lainie fails to find the balance within herself to be dedicated and still have something redeemable.
What the story lacks is room to stretch. Spencer tries to pack too much plot into too few pages. There is a good story here. An interesting story, but plot points just fly by or remain buried under the multitude of other plot threads happening.
Most unforgivable is a certain sex scene toward the end, which seemed to have been added for shock–and though Lainie says there is a reason, the sex was unnecessary to her scheme. Even in erotica, sex should be used to advance something whether it is to advance the plot, character development, or something else. Sex for the sake of sex is merely a waste of perfectly good space.
Kaye Spencer is a good writer. She just needed more space to fully develop Nick and Lainie’s love story and give the story room to run. I look forward to seeing what Spencer can do with when she writes a full-length novel.