Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Gamble by Kristen Ashley

The Gamble (Colorado Mountain, #1)** 5 out of 5 Amazing/Intense/Brilliant Stars **

**WARNING:  SPOILERS AHEAD**

**This is a LONG book so this is a LONG review (Book Summary after Review I should say) be prepared!

Nina Sheridan's on a timeout adventure in the Colorado Mountains.  She needs distance from her clueless fiance, distance to decide whether she wants to spend the rest of her life with a man who doesn't care enough to learn how she takes her coffee.

Arriving in a blinding snowstorm at the A-Frame she rented, she comes face to face with the most amazing man she's ever seen.  Minutes later, when he kicks her out of his house, she goes head to head with him.

Beyond angry because she's flown half a world away to start her timeout adventure, not to mention her sinuses hurt, she heads back down the mountain and ends up in a ditch.  Unable to extricate herself, she gives up, hopes for rescue and falls asleep in the backseat.

The next morning she wakes up in the amazing man's bed and she's sick as a dog.

Holden Maxwell spends days  nursing her back to health and then he spends the next two weeks trying to convince her to take her Colorado adventure further, in other words, make it permanent and take a gamble on him.

Nina has a tough time fighting her attraction to Max, especially when it seems all Max's friends, her mother and step-dad and the whole town want them together and both she and Max get embroiled in the murder of Max's ex-friend and the town of Gnaw Bone's most detested resident--a man everyone has motive to kill, especially Max.



MY REVIEW...

Holy Smokes!  This book was awesome!  I loved it and I hated it and then I loved it some more!  This one had my emotions and my panties all in a twist.  I couldn't figure out if I wanted to hug or throw my Kindle...I'm still not sure.  I loved the heroine, Nina was amazing.  So strong in every aspect of her life.  Max was perfect. They were amazing together.  I could feel things brewing between them from the very beginning.  I don't know that I actually like Max better than I liked Tate from Sweet Dreams but it's a close (very close) call. I loved the side characters and the drama that followed.  Let me just say that I hope I never go on a vacation that ends up the way her does...minus the hot mountain man turned boyfriend part ;)  The book is told from Nina's POV and it takes place over a 2 week period.  So many things happen it's almost hard to keep up at times.  It kept me engaged the entire book even though it felt kind of long a times (it's a very long book). This is the first book in Kristen Ashley's Colorado Mountain series.  I happened upon it after reading Sweet Dreams from the same series.  I'm pretty sure that after 2 amazing books I'll continue this series through to the end.  Kristen Ashley is officially now one of my favorite authors.  I'm mad at myself because it's taken me so long to read this series!  It's rare that I will rate an entire series 5 Star but this one is definitely a 5 Star series.  My hats off to you Kristen Ashley!  You're books are AMAZING!!

A few things that I didn't care for:
  1. Her need to say "Max" and "I'm sorry" repeatedly.  I mean it was like every other sentence.  It didn't take away from the book, but became annoying after awhile.
  2. The communication problems.  I mean seriously girl, if you're that upset about his dead wife then I don't know, maybe...TALK TO HIM!  Just a thought.
A few things I loved:
  1. He called her "baby", "honey", "Dutchess", "darlin", and I'm sure there were more.  I loved that he cared enough to call her those endearments from the beginning when her POS fiance didn't.
  2. I loved how protective, and dominate he was with her.  Not letting her leave because he simply wanted her to stay...LOVED it!
  3. The epilogue--I'm a sucker for epilogues anyway but this one was beautiful!
BOOK SUMMARY...

Nina is 36.  She's blonde headed, with hazel eyes and very pretty.  She lives in England and is an attorney.  She's engaged to a douchbag who doesn't care about her at all.  She's very put together, almost to the point of snooty in the beginning.  She' was a strong character.  She didn't take crap from anyone including Max at times.  She had no problem standing up for others or herself.  She had a "take on the world" feel to her and I loved her instantly.

Max is 37.  he's tall with broad shoulders, dark wavy hair, and grey eyes.  He is the owner of the house Nina is going to rent while she's on vacation.  He's dark and imposing in the beginning, very unapproachable.  He's domineering, possessive, and a bit controlling...in and out of the bedroom.  He sees something he wants and he goes for it.  He was married 10 years before but lost his wife in a car accident and has since played the field thinking he'd never find love again.


Nina is taking a break from her life.  She's left her fiance, her life, and everything else behind for 2 weeks.  Her plans are to get to the house she's rented and sort through her feelings.  She's has a fiance named Niles who could care less that she's gone.  He doesn't call to make sure she made it safely or anything.  It's snowing and she's getting sick.  All she can think about is getting to her destination and going to bed.  Once at the house, she realizes there is a mix up.  The owner is home and the booking was wrong.  He's a jerk and sends her own her way.  She being the person she is, has no intention of going down with a fight.  They fight outside in the snow, he tells her to stay the night, and she's so stubborn she refuses.  She ends up in a ditch not far from his house.  She's had enough and takes some medicine and falls asleep in the backseat praying someone will find her.



The following morning she wakes up in Max's bed in the house she left the following night sick as a dog.  Like death flu sick.  Over the next several days Max takes care of her.  He feeds her, makes sure she's taking medicine, and when she's shivering uncontrollably he gets into his bed with her and holds her until she's calm again.  She's out of it but knows some of what's going on.  Following her illness she wakes up mortified with one thought...Get far far away.

There's just one problem with her plan to leave...Max won't let her.  She needs her rest and she's staying, end of story.  He's goes so far that he takes her keys and calls the cab company and tells them not to come get her if she calls while he's out.  For her nothing has changed but for him, he's spent the last 48 hours taking care of him and now he wants to get to know her.  He flirts and lets her know that if she were his...

"If you told me you needed a timeout, first, I wouldn't f***in let you have one, second, I wouldn't give you reason to f***in want one, last, you took off anyway, I'd f***in phone."

He takes her to dinner which ends up being their first date.  He's trying to get to know her but she argues with him about everything.  Seriously they even argue about the nationality of beer.  We meet Shauna, who is a woman Max used to sleep with.  She's a horrible person and I couldn't stand her.  Once back at the house she goes to bed and wakes up in his arms.  When she tries to pull away, he pulls her back to him.  She's still set on leaving but he kisses her.  The following morning he takes her to his "spot" which is a bluff on his mountain.  He doesn't take a lot of people there but he took her only having known her a few days.  Following their day together, she sends Niles a "dear John" letter home through an email, ending her 2 year relationship.  They begin spending time together, sleeping curled around each other every night.  He is constantly calling her "his woman". It's sweet. (Yes, I'm going all swoony on you)



We meet Mindy and Becca.  Mindy is Max's best friend's (Brody) little sister.  Nina gets the wrong idea but Mindy is like his little sister.  Becca is Mindy's best friend who is also close to Max.  We find out that Nina's brother was hurt in the army.  He lost his legs and in coming home lost everything else he valued. He gave up and committed suicide.  Having the wrong idea about Mindy, Nina delivers this information rather bluntly and harshly.  When she leaves the room, Max lets Nina know who she is and what she means to him.  He then tells her she was harsh and that Mindy had been raped 3 weeks prior and didn't need that from her.

Her and Mindy get to know each other and end up having a girls night with a few other females in town.  Mindy's boyfriend is a total douchebag and blames Mindy for what happened.  When he gets ugly with Mindy, Nina jumps in and ends up getting backhanded across the face.  Max walked in a the exact moment this happens and beats the crap out of him.

Max is trying his best to spend time with her alone but they are constantly interrupted.  Max isn't a fan of being interrupted.  Nina is fully aware of what Max wants their alone time to consist of.  He has no problem letting her know that he wants to be with her.  On the way to dinner he tells her he wants her to move to Colorado, live in his house, and start a life with him.  (It's not even been a full week!)  She isn't quite getting it yet but he has no intention of letting her go now that he has her.  She's officially been claimed.



We find out about Max's wife when Nina discovers their picture at Bitsy's house (friend of Max and wife of the man who was married earlier in the book...didn't mention it because I really didn't see the point). She can tell how happy they were and how much he loved her. She gets this idea in her head that if he has already been with the love of his life then she can never be that for him.  Without even talking to him she makes the decision to not even try.  She's trying to run and he's trying to plan their future.  He knows somethings up but can't get through to her.



At dinner they run into Shauna again.  This confrontation was funny.  Her dad shows up in town and she gets in a screaming match with him and slaps him.  Max has to pull her back.  This girl is feisty when she's mad.  Her mom and step dad show up and he and Max go to talk to her father.  Max finds out at the meeting that Niles is on his way to town and they have to meet with them the following morning.  It doesn't go well.  Niles shows his true colors and we find out that her dad offered Max $250,000 to walk away.

Mindy tries to commit suicide but they get to her in time and Nina takes over showing how strong she is.  She rushes into the water and pulls her out then performs CPR.  She promises her she'll help her get the help she needs and eventually does.  When she and Max are finally alone, he's angry that she jumped in the water.  They fight, make up and then finally have sex.  It's hot and he's so dominate with her.  Now that they have officially done the deed, she's his and he has no intention of letting her walk away.



Anna gets the full story about Max and Anna from a very drunk Harry (another friend of Max) and he's none to nice about it.  Tells her she'll never be Anna and that he'll never love her the way he loved Anna.  She shuts down and won't talk to him.  She's planning on getting through the night and leaving the next morning.  Max hears a recorded conversation with Bitsy and realizes that Nina already knows about Anna while he's been trying to figure out how to tell her.  He's so angry and says some really mean things.  He pretty much tells her they are done and walks away.  She being Nina packs up her things and takes off to a cabin in the woods.  Damon, Mindy's boyfriend she hit, finds her and beats the crap out of her.  I mean seriously this girl goes on vacation and it sucks (minus hot, sexy mountain man who claims you)!

"I mean, I go on a vacation to try to figure out my life and here I am, my legs's scraped up, my ribs are bruised, I've been backhanded and punched, I've been to a hospital once and a Police Station three times and I've been into it with practically everyone in town and, if you take out the time I've been sick, I've only been here a week!"

"I need a timeout to deal with my timeout!"

Max began tracking her down the minute he realized she was gone (about the moment he cooled off and realized he needed to talk to her) and when he finds her and sees the damage he's angry.  After a trip to the hospital he finally talks to her about Anna and then tells her that part of his life is over and Nina is who he wants to be with.  His whole point of tracking her down after she left was to bring her home.  He never intended to walk away from her, it was just a fight, and she finally realizes that he really just wants to be with her.  He's told her he's in love with her and she believes him.  When they leave that cabin the following morning they are back on track with their future.



"When I was young life handed me somethin' beautiful.  Then it took it away.  Ten years down the road, somethin' different, but no less beautiful, showed up right at my front door.  I knew it almost the minute I saw it and nothin' has happened since to shake that.  You think, findin' that in you, I'm gonna let you change my password, write me some f***ed up note and walk away?"

She finally tells him she loves him as she's about to fall asleep.  He wakes her up in the middle of the night making love to her and demands she say again.  Following this things are calm for a few days.  As everything goes on her crazy vacation, things won't stay quiet long.



While grocery shopping with her mom, Damon shows up and hits her then kidnaps her.  She's in his truck headed out of town when Harry (Max's friend) stops the truck and kills Damon.  Thinking she's safe she goes to him.  He injects her with something and then she's being kidnapped again.  When she comes to she's with Bitsey and Shauna is then brought in.  All 3 have been kidnapped.  She gets away from Harry and takes off running but he catches her.  She screams and Max barrels into the guy and almost beats him to death.  It takes 8 men to hold him off the guy.   He comforts her while she cries and then takes her home where she belongs.

The epilogue is 3 years later.  She is living in the house on the mountain with him.  They are married and have been.  He's still just as possessive and protective.  They have a son who is named Charlie after her brother and she's pregnant with their second child.  At the very end they are sitting in a chair in front of the fire together and she's asleep curled around him.  PERFECT!

MY RATING...

If I could give this book more stars I would.  Hands down a 5 star book and a 5 star series!  The book speaks for itself.  Go now and put it on your TBR list.  READ IT!  You won't regret it!

My Max / Nina

 

Favorite Quotes:

I doubted this was the case and decided he was probably doing something Max-ish.  Chopping wood.  Building a barn.  Saving a child in distress or climbing a tree to rescue a cat.  Stuff like that.

"You think to slide back, settle for something that made you run away because you think it's safe because it's familiar, because you're scared of takin' a gamble on me, I'm warnin' you now, Duchess, I'm not gonna allow that."