Seven-Card Stud (Crabbypatty’s Review)

Title: Seven-Card Stud (Wild Cards #2 – Dreamspun Desires #22)
Author: Ava Drake
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: November 15, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Murder / Suspense
Page Count: 242
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5


Love is a high-stakes game.

When Collin Callahan, British secret agent, goes up against math genius turned surfer bum Oliver Elliot, the battle is epic—and so is the attraction. They’re pitted against each other in an exclusive, ultra-secret—and ultra-illegal—poker match in Gibraltar, but when players start dying and they could be next, they find a common goal: catch the killer before it’s too late.

Evenly matched at poker and romance, they each wrestle personal demons that threaten to consume them as the stakes climb. It’s an all-or-nothing gamble with both life and love on the line as they fight to be the last seven-card studs standing.

“Seven-Card Stud” is the second book in Ava Drake’s Wild Cards series but can easily be read as a stand-alone. A suave British agent (think James Bond) spots a neoprene-clad swimmer off the coast of Gibraltar. Suddenly a jet-ski comes out of nowhere, heading straight for the swimmer. When the swimmer fails to come up to the surface, the agent dives into the icy waters.

“Seven-Card Stud” starts with a bang as Collin, usually a behind-the-scenes intelligence analyst for the private security firm Wild Cards, rescues Oliver. Lean-jawed shaggy blonde Oliver, a mathematics genius and former world-class poker player, is currently living the carefree life of a surf bum. Turns out they are both in Gibraltar to participate in a nefarious high stakes poker game. On the gambling floor, Oliver and Collin are mortal enemies but behind closed doors they work together to discover who is behind this whole secret tournament, and what is the ultimate prize.

Amidst Albanian mobsters, hustlers, criminals, murders, and security algorithms, Oliver and his repressed Englishman burn up the sheets:

How do you like it, English?”
He [Collin] gurgled something along the lines of “Wuhurmbuhgah.”
Oliver laughed and drew his fist down Collin’s shaft, pulling the skin tight across the tip of his cock. […] “If you don’t tell me what you like, Collin, I’m going to do everything I’ve been imagining doing to you. And some of it’s pretty twisted.

I really like the spying, espionage and murder … until the plot got seriously weird.

There’s an international crime syndicate, faked deaths, plastic surgery, assassins and more all jam-packed into the later pages of the book.
All these elements pushed me way past the point of willful disbelief and made the ending seems cobbled together. And I know it sounds terribly shallow … but I’m not a fan of the cover model.

But on the whole, “Seven-Card Stud” is a fun wild ride of a book if you’re a fan of hot sexy spies, espionage and mystery.

Dreamspun Desires Series

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Galley copy of Seven-Card Stud provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader