Review: The Highest Stakes of All by Sara Craven

by Keira G on November 28, 2011 · 0 comments

in 4 Stars, A-C, Book Review, Category, Contemporary, Enemies, Gambling, Greece, Kidnapping, Mistress or Courtesan, Rape/Abuse, Revenge, Secret Baby, Tycoon, Virgin Heroine

Heroine: Joanna Veron is somewhere around 19. In her father’s world she plays at being a high maintenance vapid beauty, but inside she’s really just a sweetheart looking for a way out of her father’s lifestyle (without having to go to her perfectly nice uncle) ever since a particularly bad incident when they were living in Australia where they swindled a youngish man named Peter out of a lot of money. She extracts a promise from her father to never use her in such a manner again, but of course Denys doesn’t hold to it for long.

Hero: Vassos Gordanis (I see his name and think vaseline) is somewhere in his 30s. He’s out for revenge against Denys and Joanna (though of course she’s clueless.) When he wins Joanna in a high stakes poker game he believes he has the chance to accomplish both punishments as he believes Joanna is Denys mistress. Obviously he’s not buying the “she’s my niece” they both claimed ever since Joanna joined her father on his jaunts around the gambling dens of the world. (Why does Joanna allow this? Gross.)

Favorite Moment: The first and second time they make love when he learns of her innocence (read virginity surprise!) and then tries to teach her about lovemaking which she tries so hard to hate … There’s flavors of Stockholm Syndrome in this, but honestly it worked for me because there’s also the play on the Persephone myth.

Missed Opportunity:
If I remember right they were talking about her real relationship to Denys, but it could also have easily alluded to her virgin state.

Vassos: Why didn’t you tell me?
Joanna’s answer should have been: Would you have believed me?

It seems like a perfectly standard response, but it never came up.

TSTL Ending: Why did the HEA have to include a flowery all is forgiven resolution between Joanna and Denys? What a crappy way to tie it off. Sometimes splitting family units is okay and in this case her dad is such a scumbag there’s really no way I’d buy his remorse and sudden “Oh shut up” speech to his new wife (whom he married right after Joanna was taken by Vassos to avoid his debts and to get the hell out of dodge, the bastard didn’t even look for her to get her back.)

Rating: ★★★★☆ – I know the rating seems incongruent with the story’s flaws, but I’m also factoring in the *guilty pleasure* I got out of it, because what worked, worked really well for me.

Buy: The Highest Stakes of All (Harlequin Presents)

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