New Review: Casino Queen

CASINO QUEEN by Cara Bertoia

Fiction, a little mystery, a little thriller, a little romance (258 pages)

5*****

Blurb: Caroline Popov, alone, heartbroken, and deeply in debt ends up in glamorous Palm Springs, California where Native casinos have just opened, offering employment to thousands. She lands a job at the Palm Oasis Casino where she is mentored by the charismatic tribal chairman, John Tovar. Embraced by casino culture, Caroline works her way up to casino manager of the Night Hawk, in the High Desert town of Joshua Tree. There, she is responsible for managing multicultural team members, satisfying the demands of often unique guests, and growing revenue while rooting out corruption. In the process of rediscovering her inner strength, she learns, you have to gamble like your life depends on it. Because it often does.

Thoughts: This book surprised me. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started reading it, and as I kept reading, I kept trying to pigeonhole it, but it refused to be classified as anything other than a really good fiction book. There’s a little romance, a little mystery, a little intrigue, kidnapping, theft, and more. The characters are believable—you feel like you can actually know someone like this or that one. The world building is amazing – I’ve never been in a casino, but I feel like I know what one is like now. It’s obvious the author knows what she’s talking about. And the desert surrounding the casino – what a beautiful place that must be. I want to go there! The story is all about Caroline Popov, the manager of a casino on tribal lands outside of Palm Springs, CA. Her job runs the gamut of catching thieves (both patrons and workers), calming nerves, making nice even when she doesn’t feel like it. When she fires one crooked worker, he retaliates in ways that cause her to need a body guard. But Caroline is no wimp. She has been through the worst that life can throw at her and has come out stronger. 

What I liked: The characters, the setting, the story. I didn’t think I was going to like it. This isn’t a genre I read that often, but the author’s skill in telling the story wouldn’t let me put the book down. She kept pulling me back to find out what happens. 

Recommendation: Highly recommended as a different kind of story. 

Disclaimer: Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

The Wild Rose Press

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June 1 New Jellybean Book

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Promposal on Poppy Lane

by Ally Hayes

Category: Romance / Clean & Wholesome

Series: Jelly Beans and Spring Things

Spring on Poppy Lane means front doors adorned with shamrocks, flowers, bunnies, and tulips. Residents on the block have Caleb to thank for most of the decorating, but this year his concerns focus elsewhere. In the spring of his senior year, he sees his high school festivities ending. As his friends secure their prom dates and make college decisions, he’s struggling with approaching his crush. In just a matter of weeks, can he talk to Shelby, the shy farm girl, and concoct the perfect Promposal? Or will his neighbor’s meddling ruin his plan?

ISBN: (digital) 9781509249688  

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May 31 New Jellybean Book

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White Hares and Midnight Dares

by Laura Strickland

Category: Romance / Paranormal

Series: Jelly Beans and Spring Things

Diana Gendarme has spent her life doing for others, so when she moves into her dream cottage, she’s ready for some “me” time. But the cottage is shabby and her new neighbors quite close. One of them makes a din in his blacksmith’s forge all day long yet has the nerve to complain about her beagle’s yodeling. He’s the last sort of man who should attract Diana. So why can’t she resist the absurd dares he persists in issuing?Reg Coltsfoot doesn’t plan on falling for his neighbor. A lifelong charmer, he’s used to women falling for him instead. There’s just something about Diana that has him longing to draw her out of her staid life and into his. Maybe it’s the magic of spring, but Reg will do all he can to persuade Diana she needs his laughter and his love to light her days.

ISBN: (digital) 9781509251353  

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May 30 New Book

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The Wizard of her Heart

by Terry Newman

Category: Romance / Paranormal

Series: Jelly Beans and Spring Things

Sydney Thomas doesn’t believe in romantic love. She moved to Zen, Ohio with her young daughter following a dismal marriage and disastrous divorce. Her new boss says he’s a wizard who helps people fall in love by casting spells over jelly beans. The last thing she needs is to get entangled in a relationship. Why can’t she stop thinking about him?Wyatt Ginn is spellbound by the woman he met at the post office when he rear-ends her car. Not a great first impression. When he discovers she’s the social media director hired for his publishing company, the second and third impressions aren’t much better. And she doesn’t believe in magic. So why is he attracted to her?There’s no way they can live happily ever after. Is there?

ISBN: (digital) 9781509250189  

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Cover Reveal

Coming in the fall 2023 from The Wild Rose Press!!!

It’s never easy to fight a friend. It’s even harder to kill one.

Excerpt:

Kaeden studied the damage, then stared into Liz’s eyes. “That’s a gunshot wound. Fresh.”

He closed down his emotions and dealt with her wound. So, she had finally returned. After two months without a word. They didn’t know where she’d been, when she would be back, or even she had survived her latest job. Kaeden had never met anyone like Elizabeth St. John. She made him madder than anyone he’d ever known. But he also couldn’t get her out of his mind. She was a drink of water in a dry desert.

“She was shot?” Charly grabbed Liz’s arm to look more closely.

Liz stared at Kaeden, and he stared right back.

“Yeah. Fortunately, he had bad aim.”

Kaeden kept his gaze on Liz for a long moment, then pulled out the antiseptic wipes. He grasped her arm and cleaned the gouge up. Kae bit back a grin when Liz gritted her teeth against the pain he knew she had to be feeling as he cleaned, salved, and bandaged her.

“You enjoyed that,” she accused.

“Maybe.” He cleaned up the wipes and bloody wraps.

She shrugged. “I probably deserved that and more.”

May 27 Writing

Birthdays: Juliet Ward Howe (1819), Arnold Bennett (1867), Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894), Dashiell Hammett (1894), Rachel Carson (1907), John Cheever (1912), Herman Wouk (1915), Tony Hillerman (1925), Marijane Meaker (1927), John Barth (1930), Harlan Ellison (1934), Edmund Morris (1940), Anthony Pagden (1945), Lisbeth Zwerger (1954), Sharon Bolton (1960), Heston Blumenthal (1966)

Dashiell Hammett is best known for his Sam Spade character as well as Nick and Nora Charles (and their dog Asta)

Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” helped advance the environmental movement.

Herman Wouk won the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “The Caine Mutiny”.

Harlan Ellison has won multiple Hugos, Nebulas, and Edgars for his speculative fiction.

Edmund Morris won the 1980 Pulitzer for Biography of Theodore Roosevelt

Quote: “It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.” ― Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us

“A writer is like a bag lady going through life with a sack and a pointed stick collecting stuff.” – Tony Hillerman

Tip: If the big picture of writing an entire book overwhelms you, break it down into smaller bites. Once scene, one chapter, even just one paragraph. Break it down to what you can handle.

Jumpstart: You’re to be substitute host on a late night talk show. Who would your guests be? What would you do for your special segment? What music or musicians would you have on?

May 26 Writing Tips

Birthdays: Leonard Bacon (1887), Antonia Forest (1915), Edward Whittemore (1933), Sheila Greenwald (1934), Carol O’Connell (1947), Alan Hollinghurst (1954), Simon Armitage (1963), Caitlin Kiernan (1964)

Leonard Bacon won the 1940 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “Sunderland Capture”.

Quote: “You’re learning to write a book every time you sit down to do it. I know that sounds a little strange, but in every book you’re presented with new possibilities, new environment, different people, new story lines. You’re learning how to do it all over again.” – Carol O’Connell

“I cannot allow your ignorance,  however great, to take precedence over my knowledge, however small.” ― Leonard Bacon

Tip: Don’t use the names of real people for a character unless there’s a strong reason to do so. You could open yourself up to a lawsuit.

Jumpstart: You’ve found a magic mirror. It will tell you one truth about the future. What do you ask it?

New Book

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A Wylder Homecoming

by Evelyn Timidaiski

Category: Romance / Suspense

Series: Wylder West

A destroyed career, a rundown ranch, and a beautiful horse whisperer come together to jumpstart Hayden Wilcoyt’s dream of using wild Mustangs to create a new breed of horses. His job becomes doubly dangerous after someone starts sabotaging work on the ranch. Complicating things is his relationship with Ginny Hampton, the Native American woman he inherited along with the ranch. As a fourteen-year-old runaway, Ginny was offered refuge by Hayden’s great-grandfather. Having devoted her life to Wilcoyt Ranch, she considers it hers by right if not by bloodline. The tragedy of an abusive past overshadows how Ginny deals with people now and she must learn to overcome her fears before she and Hayden have any chance for a lasting relationship.

ISBN: (digital) 9781509248377  ISBN: (print) 9781509248360

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Indie Bound

New Jelly Bean Book

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The Wizard of her Heart

by Terry Newman

Category: Romance / Paranormal

Series: Jelly Beans and Spring Things

Sydney Thomas doesn’t believe in romantic love. She moved to Zen, Ohio with her young daughter following a dismal marriage and disastrous divorce. Her new boss says he’s a wizard who helps people fall in love by casting spells over jelly beans. The last thing she needs is to get entangled in a relationship. Why can’t she stop thinking about him?Wyatt Ginn is spellbound by the woman he met at the post office when he rear-ends her car. Not a great first impression. When he discovers she’s the social media director hired for his publishing company, the second and third impressions aren’t much better. And she doesn’t believe in magic. So why is he attracted to her?There’s no way they can live happily ever after. Is there?

ISBN: (digital) 9781509250189  

Available through these fine retailers…

Amazon

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Google Books

ITunes