Monday, 30 May 2011
365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #62
The Highest Stakes of All - Sara Craven
Mills and Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2011
From the back cover:
"The House always wins...
Once upon a time, and far away, Joanna Vernon found herself the ultimate prize in a dangerously high-stakes card game. When the last hand had been revealed, the knowing curl of Vassos Gordanis' lip told her he had every intention of claiming his winnings...
Though no setting could be more beautiful than Vassos' private island, to Joanna the Aegean Sea was merely a turquoise-hued prison wall. In the Gordanis house a woman was expected to know her place, and this merciless Greek knew exactly where he planned to settle the score...
MEN WITHOUT MERCY Arrogant and proud, unashamedly male!"
Another Sara Craven book, her books have definitely grown on me, I really enjoyed this one. I read this on my Kindle (iPad app), I actually bought it a while back and forgot about it (oops!), if I had known how much I would enjoy it I would have read it sooner!
The heroine Joanna spends her life following her gambling addict father around the world, acting as his sort-of mascot, whom he uses to act as his adoring female and flaunt herself in the hope to distract players. She has grown weary of the lifestyle and longs to go back to England. Her father is going through an unlucky streak and Joanna hopes to convince him to give it all up, until a very wealthy and infamous Greek tycoon, the hero Vassos, turns up and her father manages to secure an invitation to his private high stakes poker game that evening. Joanna is forced to play the role of his adoring arm candy again, but when she realises that this opponent is much more formidable than her father has anticipated she knows things are not going to end well. Her father is drawn into playing an betting with more and more risk, and eventually he stakes Joanna herself. She is furious with this, even more so when her father looses and abandons her to the mercies of the Greek.
Vassos relishes the thought of having control over Joanna, both for his own pleasure and for revenge on her for her role in a past event that almost ruined a member of his family. Vassos takes Joanna to his private island in order to seduce her and keep her under control, he is not expecting her innocence or the feelings of protectiveness she creates in him. Neither does he expect her to discover secrets he would rather keep hidden.
This books is part of a new mini-series of retro inspired romances, and is set in 1975. The writing is very typical of Sara Craven's style but I though she managed to incorporate aspects of the social differences between now and the 70s brilliantly. As a 21st century woman myself at first I found the heroine a bit weak and lacking, however the more I read and thought about it I realised that back then women were not as strong and equal as we are today. As a result Sara Craven has actually written a female character that was quite strong for the time. The hero was incredibly arrogant and unashamedly Alpha, but again this fit perfectly with both the era and the story.
I particularly likes all the aspects of 70s pop culture included, such as popular books of the time like 'The Day of the Jackal', mentions of Jackie O and a scene where they are dancing to a disco cassette (oh, cassettes! I had almost forgotten about you!). The descriptions of the fashions worn by the characters were also brilliant, dated but brilliant!
This book will not be for everyone, the writing style is very reminiscent of the old style of Mills and Boon's (Violet Winspear, anyone!) but again it fits perfectly with the era it was set in.
An enjoyable read, I look forward to reading other books in this mini-series!