Published by Forever on January 31st 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Their love was always in the cards.He should have thrown her out. But when club owner Alexander Lavoie catches a mysterious blonde counting cards at his vingt-et-un table, he's more intrigued than angry. He has to see more of this beauty—in his club, in his office, in his bed. But first he'll have to devise a proposition she can't turn down.
Gossip said he was an assassin.Common sense told her to stay away. But Angelique Archer was desperate, and Lavoie's club offered a surefire way to make quick money—until she got caught. Instead of throwing her out though, the devil offers her a deal: come work for him. Refusing him means facing starvation, but with a man so sinfully handsome and fiercely protective, keeping things professional might prove impossible.
“I don’t suppose you’d be interested in a job?”
“A job?” Angelique was aware she was repeating him like a half-wit, but she couldn’t seem to wrap her head around the last minute of conversation.
“Yes.” Lavoie leaned forward slightly.
“Ladies don’t have jobs.” Angelique tried to put some conviction into that statement, knowing it was what she was supposed to say. Such knowledge had been drilled into her since she was old enough to walk. Ladies grew up and married well and became wives who lived out their lives in genteel comfort. They did not partake in industry. Or gambling.
At least they didn’t until they did not marry at all, much less well, and their parents died, their family fortune went missing, and their newly titled brother couldn’t stay sober long enough to look for it. Then ladies did what they had to do to hold their families together.
She glanced up at him, but her sharp reply, like everything else, had only seemed to amuse him.
“A strange thing to say for a lady who already treats my vingt-et-un table as her personal place of business.” Lavoie’s lip had curled, his scar making it look more like a smirk than a smile.
She looked away, despising the truth in his assessment. “I do no such thing. Ladies don’t have jobs,” she repeated, though it was a pitiable attempt at her defense.
“Ladies don’t have jobs that people know about,” he countered.
“What? What does that mean?” Angelique’s eyes snapped back to his.
Lavoie moved out from behind his desk and leaned back against the front of it. He crossed his booted feet casually, never taking his eyes off her. “It means, my lady, that once you stop pretending to be aghast, and you understand that I offer the potential to earn more money in a single night than you will earn in three at the card tables, you might wish to reconsider. I wish you to deal a high-stakes vingt-et-un table that can accommodate at least six players who will be playing against the house and not each other. Who will be playing against you.”
Angelique was at a loss for words.
“I don’t need to have your answer now,” he said, tipping his head. “You know where to find me. I will pay you for your time, of course, and you will also receive a percentage of whatever you—my club—wins. I promise that your identity will remain concealed. And unlike the men you have had to endure thus far at the tables, I promise that I won’t touch your breasts. And anyone else in my club who might attempt to do so in the future will answer to me.”
She felt her face heat all over again, even as another hail of unwanted thrills crackled through her like a summer storm.
“Tell me you’ll think about it,” Lavoie prompted.
“Very well.” The shock was wearing off, and Angelique was trying her best to collect her scattered thoughts. She’d be an idiot to deny him outright. She didn’t trust him entirely, but her current situation didn’t leave her many choices. And she couldn’t deny that his offer, like the man himself, was more than a little…intriguing. Exciting. Fascinating.
Lavoie pushed himself off the desk, coming to stand directly in front of her. His eyes skimmed over her hair, her mask, her gown, as if he was evaluating—admiring—what he saw. “With a mind such as yours, I think you would be brilliant,” he murmured. “I think that you and I would make splendid partners.”
You can follow the Season for Scandal on Goodreads.
~~Reviewed by Amy~~
If you want a story that will steam up your reading glasses, look no further than Kelly Bowen’s latest in her Season for Scandal series. It may have been 4 degrees outside, but I was burning up reading Between the Devil and the Duke!
Lavoie’s was an exclusive club catering to people with titles, wealth, and power. It offered a chance for a daring woman to enjoy herself in a manner forbidden by propriety. But Angelique Archer wasn’t daring, she was desperate. She needed to fill the panty, keep the creditors at bay, and pay her siblings’ tuition. Her parents were dead, the family fortune was missing, and Angelique’s brother was wasting their money. So using her uncanny abilities with numbers and cards, an aptitude she’d always tried to hide growing up, Angelique had become her family’s only source of income by playing cards. To ensure she wasn’t recognized by her peers, she wore a mask like other female patrons. No one ever remembered her. She did everything to remain unnoticed. Or so she thought.
Alexander Lavoie noticed her though. She’d been there before, never indulging in the extras his club had to offer. She was all business. “She never stayed more than 3 hours- long enough to get what she wanted and not be remembered by anyone.” She was a very clever card player and she intrigued Alexander. When a losing patron got too familiar with Angelique, Alexander intervened and took her to his office to ensure she could leave the club safely. Seeing an open ledger on the desk, Angelique commented on an accounting error and Alexander was even more interested in this woman. He offered her a job as a dealer at the vingt-et-un table so players could play against the house rather than each other. There was more money to be made that way if one knew what one was doing, and Angelique most assuredly did. The amount Alex offered was staggering. Angelique could make more in 1 night than she could playing in 3. But what if he discovered her identity and her family’s dirt?
Alexander had no idea who she was, but she had glorious curves, beautiful blue eyes, and a brilliant mind. He was determined to find out more about her. And find out he did when they encountered her drunken brother on the way home. Angelique was the only daughter of the Marquess of Hutton. She had been rumored to have a staggering dowry, but had only participated in one season with no offers. Rumors varied as to why, but all had seen her as cold and detached, and had thus dubbed her The Marble Maiden. After that, she had vanished from society. She fascinated Alex even more.
When things got difficult, Angelique did not run. She couldn’t walk out on her responsibilities and abandon her siblings. She could get over the idea of a lady working in a gaming hell, the possibility she might be recognized. She could accept she was no longer a lady, but an employee. But she couldn’t get over Alexander Lavoie. He was rumored to be a retired assassin and spy. He was dark and dangerous, and he had the power to take apart what remained of her life. He was a gentleman and then something far more dangerous. And she liked them both far too much. Facing his intense gaze, her mind seemed to still. She’d never met a man who set her so on edge like he did. His mere touch made her lose focus, lose concentration.
Alex assured her their relationship would be purely professional and so Angelique accepted the job. Alex taught her to be enigmatic and mysterious. Men vied for the privilege of playing at her table. They made a fortune each night she worked. Alexander never mixed business with pleasure. It was too distracting, but when he was with Angelique, his heart pounded and desire shredded his wits. “He wasn’t the marrying type but the idea of such a partnership with this woman and everything that went with it made the idea a lot more appealing than he’d like.” Angelique was not unaffected by Alex either. Under his tutelage, she felt beautiful. Alex didn’t want her to be anything she wasn’t. When he looked at her, she didn’t feel objectified like with other men. He was different. Everything with him was different. He made her feel reckless and powerful.
When Angelique’s brother is arrested for a heinous crime, it becomes evident that someone is out to destroy what remains of her family. Alex steps in to help her. With the aid of some old friends, Alex and Angelique set out on a dangerous path to save her brother and discover who is out to ruin her family. And in so doing, they are brought even closer. Alexander treated Angelique as an equal in their pursuit of the unknown villain. She found herself revealing more of her true self to him than she’d ever done with anyone. And because she had revealed so much, it seemed only natural and right that Alexander do the same. He revealed more of himself to her than he had to anyone, and it made him feel content. Alexander wanted to hold her and tell her all would be alright, but he needed to remember that she was his employee. An incredibly sexy asset to his club. He could not mix business with pleasure. For Angelique, Alexander was the best man she’d ever met, would likely ever meet, but he didn’t belong to her. She doubted he’d ever belong to anyone, so she must hide her feelings behind a professional veneer. But as their quest for the villain progressed, staying professional became harder to do.
What an absolutely riveting story! Angelique and Alexander’s thrilling race to save her brother and her family name was so full of twists and surprises. I was breathless and frantically turning the pages until the end. Alex was delicious. I loved his wry sense of humor and his sense of honor and gallantry. Angelique was smart and strong. She faced responsibilities head on and didn’t back down. The raw candor of their conversations was bewitching. I was captivated by their undeniable attraction to each other and how they worked as equals to uncover who was out to destroy Angelique’s family. When he first offered Angelique a job at Lavoie’s, Alex had told her “I think we’d be good together”, and they were. As business associates, lovers, and partners. They were electric together.
Though #3 in a series, I had no trouble reading this story as a stand-alone. But now I’m anxious to read the series from the beginning. Kelly Bowen can write romance like nobody’s business! Her love scenes will leave you panting. This is one story you won’t be able to put down until the last page is turned.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.