Seven-Card Stud (PIU’s Review)

Seven-Card Stud.Title: Seven-Card Stud (Wild Cards #2)
Author: Ava Drake
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: 15th Nov, 2016
Genre(s): Danger/Mystery, Romance
Page Count: 242
Reviewed by: PIU
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Temptation, peril, and dirty poker.

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” by Ava Drake is a good combination of danger, mystery, espionage and romance. Also the inclusion of a “stiff and proper” British character fed my fantasy of a gay “James Bond” completely. I had a fun time reading this book. The MCs were a complete contrast in characters and personalities and thus their romance with a back drop of danger and intrigue kept me hooked till the end.

Collin Callahan, a British government plant is pitted against math genius/surfer bum, Oliver Elliot aka Gun when they face off in a secret, high stakes poker game. Oliver’s lazy surfer facade quickly wears off when Collin gets a glimpse of the brilliant mind behind. They are completely different in every way possible but the attraction between them is as high as it can get. When top players starts to get killed one by one, Collin and Oliver form an unlikely team to watch each others back and survive till the very end.

I liked the fast pace of the book. There was an ever present feel of mystery/danger in the story which the fast pace complimented very much. Collin and Oliver’s secret, “in the moment” hook-ups adds to the overall incognito nature of their romance. The entire setting of the story was beautiful as well as intimidating. You can feel the pressure mounting with the completion of each poker tournament. If you have seen “Casino Royale” then you could easily imagine the “all or nothing” gambling that both Collin and Oliver were caught up in the book.

Collin and Oliver were completely different from each other. Collin’s first meeting with Oliver is not that flattering. He very much despises the “rude, lazy but sexy” Oliver on sight but he can’t help the pull he feels towards the man. Oliver has never tried to get emotionally involved with his random hook ups till then but Collin is the man whom he trusts with his heart for the first time. Oliver quickly turns into an ally who helps Collin a lot with his sharp mind and instincts. They made a great team but as can be expected there were a lot of secrets about Oliver which generates distrust between the pair. Thus we get to the angst of the book. The romance, angst as well as the mystery was quite well balanced in the story.

The ending of the story or rather the culmination of the mystery decreased my rating for this book considerably. After all the intrigue throughout the read, that ending kind of felt like an “anti-climax” rather than a full blown action-packed ending. I won’t give out the details but I want to say that I could not understand the villain’s motive in conducting the poker tournament at all. He wanted a specific someone to win to get him under his thumb but he was unconcerned if that same person is killed by the other competitors of the game. Isn’t that contradictory???

Readers who love to read about covert missions and espionage along with their dose of romance then definitely pick this book up.

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