Get revenge. Pay a debt. Save a soul. Lose your heart.
Spanning centuries and continents, five brand-new novellas from beloved historical romance authors tell the stories of men and women who find themselves wagered in a game of chance and are forced to play for the highest stakes of all: love.
“Gideon and the Den of Thieves” by Joanna Bourne
London, 1793 – Soldier of fortune Gideon Gage has come home from halfway around the world, fully prepared to face down a ruthless gang to save his sister. But there’s one member of the gang he could never have been prepared for: fascinating Aimée, driven from her own home by the French Revolution and desperately in need of his help.
“Raising The Stakes” by Isabel Cooper
California, 1938 — When the flute she won in last night’s poker game unexpectedly summons an elven warrior bound to her service, two-bit con artist Sam takes quick advantage. With Talathan’s fairy powers at her command, her shakedown of a crooked preacher is a sure thing…but would she rather take a gamble on love?
“All or Nothing” by Rose Lerner
England, 1819 – Architect Simon Radcliffe-Gould needs someone to pose as his mistress so he can actually get some work done at a scandalous house party. Irrepressible gambling den hostess Maggie da Silva would rather be his mistress, but she’ll take what she can get…
“The Liar’s Dice” by Jeannie Lin
Tang Dynasty China, 849 A.D. — Lady Bai’s first taste of freedom brings her face to face with murder. A dangerous and enigmatic stranger becomes her closest ally as she investigates the crime, but can she trust her heart or her instincts when everyone is playing a game of liar’s dice?
“Redeemed” by Molly O’Keefe
Denver, 1868 — After agonizing years in the Civil War’s surgical tents, Union doctor James Madison has nothing left to lose. But when beautiful, tortured Helen Winters is the prize in a high-stakes game of poker, he goes all in to save her—and maybe his own soul.
This is such a fun playlist because there are so many factors at work. First we had five different authors writing in five different worlds – from ancient China to the Wild West. Second, in each of the books one of the characters is gambled away (my very favorite historical romance trope). And finally like any good play list – there’s a fabulous mix of songs and genres! Including – of course – some Kenny Rogers.
Bill Leslie – “Pungo Gumbo”
Three Days Grace – “Get Out Alive”
The Highwaymen – “Highwaymen”
Al Bowlly – “Midnight, The Stars and You”
Duke Ellington “Stardust”
Alison Krauss – “Down To The River To Pray”
Click Five – “The Flipside”. Waiting for the day when I’m complete/without you, doing what I can to let you be. A rather passive-aggressive but genuinely sad song about a breakup is for my hero Simon and his ex-boyfriend Clement.
The Pretenders – “Don’t Get Me Wrong.” I’m thinking about the fireworks that go off when you smile. This feels really right for the crush Maggie has on Simon at the beginning of the story: uncomplicated, sexy, eager and exhilarating.
Selena Gomez – “Good for You.” Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight/Do my hair up real, real nice/And syncopate my skin to how you’re breathing. This song is so hot, and the combination of confidence, longing, and dressing to impress feels really right for Maggie.
Johnny Cash – “Hurt” Oh, this is just one of the most painfully stark and beautiful covers ever. It’s a visceral description of addiction and loathing. It fits both James and Helen.
Kenny Rogers – “The Gambler” Too easy? Too much? Too totally on the nose? Yes. Probably. But I guarantee you will be singing this for the rest of the day.
Lesley Gore – “You Don’t Own Me.” I feel like this is Helen’s mantra as she’s forced to sing suspended in that birdcage.
Excerpt from All or Nothing by Rose Lerner:
Thought I’d post a teaser from one of my favorite scenes in my story…they’ve just arrived at Simon’s ex-boyfriend’s house party where Maggie is pretending to be Simon’s mistress. (Maggie’s gambling den has a 1790s theme so her clothes are a little poofier and more frou-frou than contemporary ones: http://regencyfashion.org/images/i-heid/nh5-6.jpeg)
She’d brought two enormous trunks of clothes with her, insisting they were necessary both for the charade and to prevent them from being stolen in her absence. “I’m sorry, I know I’m disgustingly particular,” she told the maid who’d come up with the trunks. “But all these petticoats have got to be hung up, and not pressed all together either.” Maggie darted a ruthless smile at Simon. “If you’ve got to squash something, squash HIS things.”
The maid smiled hesitantly, unwilling to risk annoying Simon.
The threat to his clothes did not annoy him. Nor did it annoy him that it looked as if a muslin factory had exploded over half the bed. Spangles, embroidery, stripes…all of which Maggie ignored to set out her hairpins on the dressing table, and her hairbrush and jewelry. Unwinding a shawl from around a little painted cut-glass perfume bottle, she set the bottle by the mirror as carefully as if it were a Crown Jewel. Simon felt dizzy, remembering the scent of tuberoses.
Men were SUPPOSED to be annoyed at being surrounded by a froth of femininity, weren’t they? But he wasn’t sure why. In this case ‘froth’ was not a strong enough word—the room was rapidly becoming a whipped custard, a meringue, or perhaps a many-layered trifle of femininity—and Simon just wanted to roll her into that cloud of muslin and kiss her.
But he had resolved with himself not to. THAT was what annoyed him.
M. O’Keefe can remember the exact moment her love of romance began—in seventh grade, when Mrs. Nelson handed her a worn paperback copy of The Thorn Birds.
Writing as Molly O’Keefe, she has written thirty novels, won two RITA awards and three RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards. Her books have been on numerous “Best Of” lists including Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus and NPR. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and two kids.
Gambled Away on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1WpLZen
Gambled Away on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26147072-redeemed