Deadly Odds (Casino Fortuna #1) by Adrienne Giordano
Series: Casino Fortuna #1
Publication Date: June 26, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
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At Casino Fortuna, stakes are high and the nights are hot…
FBI agent-turned-consultant Kate Daniels hit the jackpot with her new assignment. A cheat is cashing in on the Strip, and she’s hired by Vegas’ biggest name to ensure his glamorous casino isn’t a target. Fortuna is a high roller’s paradise, all gleaming marble and dollar signs. Even a single flaw in security could cost big bucks. Kate can’t afford distractions. Especially the tall, dark and perfectly chiseled kind. Business and pleasure don’t mix. And sleeping with the boss is a dangerous gamble.
Fortuna’s VP of casino operations, Ross Cooper, is gaming’s golden boy. He’s got a head for business, an eye for beautiful women, and a love for the Vegas lifestyle. When he spots a gorgeous redhead casing his blackjack tables, Ross is more than a little intrigued—he’s suspicious. But Kate is no thief…she’s working for him? Ross hates surprises almost as much as the idea of trouble in his casino.
Kate quickly proves she’s more than a pretty face. Her instincts and smarts are just as enticing. And when her investigation turns deadly, Ross will risk it all to keep her by his side.
I almost stayed away from this book, because I was pretty sure I knew what it was about: a rich, domineering alpha casino boss in a gritty, tough business who gets off on ordering around a sexy lady, which isn’t a bad thing but isn’t always my cuppa. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to a get a really funny, sweet, and exciting story with a cast of characters I just plain loved reading about.
Kate Daniels is a security consultant hired to help the new Fortuna casino outside Las Vegas tighten up their security in light of recent troubles at other casinos. She has to work with casino manager Ross Cooper, who is majorly attracted to her but doesn’t particularly appreciate his boss bringing in outside help. Kate and Ross immediately start circling each other but know it’s not a good idea to mix business and pleasure. Plus, catching the cheater becomes even more important when it looks like the Fortuna is getting hit as well.
I was madly in love with both Kate and Ross. Both of them are scary good at their jobs, and I appreciate a hero and heroine who have skills and enjoy their careers. Ross is, as Kate puts it, a “glad-hander”. He is amazing at working the extremely wealthy high rollers the casino caters to, and he is equally skilled at managing the complex beast that is a casino. He’s shot to the top of his profession and landed his dream job in his early 30s–they don’t call him the golden boy for nothing. But best of all, he’s not a jerk! He genuinely cares about his employees and the people around him, and while he is a bit of a player, he is honest with and respectful of the women he dates. It’s so rare to read about a hero who’s uber-successful in business that is NOT an alphahole. Don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely bossy and cocky, but he’s still a regular, decent guy. However, it was also fun to see Kate knock him down a peg or two. He has to work for her, as it should be!
Kate is also ridiculously smart and good at her job. She can pick out the slightest detail and understands how to read people, which is why she’s so good at spotting cheaters. The two of them together were great, too. Up until the last part of the book, they do a great job of communicating with each other and being honest about their feelings. They are both kind of surprised and freaked out by not only their attraction but how much they genuinely enjoy each other’s company, and it’s so cute to see them just baffled by what is happening. I would read a whole series about Kate and Ross catching casino cheats because I adored them.
There is a small but delightful cast of side characters too, especially Don, the Fortuna’s very old school head of security who is a laugh riot. The dialog between all the characters is funny and sharp, and the casino lingo and insider glimpses really brought the setting to life. Plus, the mystery isn’t half bad. I had an inkling of who might be involved early on, but the whole thing was more complex than I assumed at the start. This isn’t a dark or gritty book, nor is it particularly action packed, but that gives Kate and Ross time to get to know each other.
I did get a little frustrated by the conflict that drives the lovers apart near the end. Ross gets (unjustly) upset over something Kate does, which seemed out of character for the smart, cautious business man he was. Kate too flies off the handle and runs away too fast. It seemed more inflated than it had to be, and it put just a tiny damper on my enjoyment.
Still, it’s a minor complaint. I thought this book was fantastic, and as it looks like this is the start of a new series, I’ll definitely be looking forward to more.
Grade: 4.5 out of 5
*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.