ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
“I’d always been a gambler, with my money, my time, my safety … but never my heart.”
You all, life isn’t fair. One of my favorite romance writers, a steamy story in my city? Lord, I was supposed to love this. But the insta-love, the improbability, and the sex work and slut shaming just completely ruined it for me. If you want to pick up something by Alessandra Torre, I completely recommend The Girl in 6E, Love, Chloe, Sex Love Repeat, and Moonshot over Even Money.
This is a story about a girl named Bell, who works as a cocktail waitress for a very peculiar casino that her two good friends own and run. In this casino, the rich Vegas casino and business owners can gamble in private, without having to worry about giving money to any of their competitors.
And Dario Capece is the proclaimed “King of Vegas” by everyone that Bell knows. He literally started from the bottom and rose himself up the ranks. He married a woman with a very powerful father, and with that initial boost in privilege, he created an empire.
Dario, following a new business endeavor, walks into Bell’s casino one night. And after that one night, he cannot stop thinking about her. Which would be fine, because she can’t stop thinking about him either. But he does some rather suspicious (and gross) things to ensure that she’s a girl he could be with. And then, he makes it his life mission to be pursue her, no matter what she has to say about it.
Even though Dario is a very powerful man, he is being watched by an even more powerful man. And when this mystery man finds out about Bell, he will do anything to ensure that Dario and Bell can never be together. Especially since these two fall in love in like a week. *eye rolls forever*
Trigger and content warnings for rape and talk of past rape (and the talk of rape is done really bad in this book. I honestly think I would have enjoyed this book ten times more if it wasn’t included, especially just for a revenge plot line and then a protector plot line), sexual harassment, unwanted touching, a lot of negativity towards prostitutes and sex workers, slut shaming, grey area cheating, stalking, talk of murder, death, torture, violence, abduction, kidnapping, talk of alcoholism, gambling, brief mention of animal death, and a gross male toxicity.
There is also a student teacher relationship in this book, and I know that’s not for everyone. But if I’m being honest with myself, I enjoyed those steamy scenes more than any of the others. Like, I almost want to ship them together. And like, his dirty talk was 11/10, in my very humble opinion.
And I did really like how confident and secure Bell felt with her own sexuality. I love reading about girls who embrace their sexiness and desires, and Bell for sure does. I just wish she wasn’t so negative about other’s sex lives.
I will say that the Vegas setting was done really well. Like, I’ve read so many Vegas romances that are so obvious the author hasn’t been to visit, but Alessandra Torre completely and authentically captures the city. I loved it, from the talk of our skies, to our streets, just to the entire aesthetic of this story. She does a wonderful job and it was my favorite part of this book, easily. And because of this (and because I’ve love so much of her other works) I will for sure look into picking up book two in this duology!
Overall, I just really expected to love this one! Maybe I went in with too high of hopes? I still love Alessandra Torre and so many of the other books she has created. This one just sadly didn’t work for me. But I hope if you pick it up that you will enjoy it more than I did!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.