Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review- Split the Aces by Jove Belle

Split the Aces
By Jove Belle
Sept. 2008
Contemporary/ Lesbian
186 pgs; WK 46.7 K
Trade: Bold Strokes Books

Buy it Amazon, ARe, Bold Strokes Books

In the neon glare of Sin City, two women ride a wave of passion that threatens to consume them in a world of fast money and fast times.

It's lust at first sight for blackjack dealer Rae Sutherland and conventioneer Cori Romero. Rae wants more from life than the constant shuffling of cards in a smoke-filled casino, but for now, she revels in the excesses of life and appreciates the never-ending parade of women at the tables. Cori is looking for something besides her day-to-day grind and aching for a new adventure, but doesn't expect to find it on the Vegas strip. Fueled by the encouragement of friends and Captain Morgan, she auditions for a singing gig and her path inevitably crosses Rae's. In spite of themselves, their relationship develops into something deeper than the initial intoxication of attraction, but both wonder if it's worth the gamble.

I was lucky enough to win this book at Dear Author during their GLBT Gay Writes in honor of National Coming Out week contest. I’ve read one other book of Jove Belle’s and really loved it. So I was excited that I ended up with this book, which I’ve been wanting to read.

First, this is a much different book than the other one I read, Edge of Darkness. Edge of Darkness was a dark, gritty suspense novel with complex characterizations and a gripping plot. Split the Aces is very different. It’s far more erotic and it’s mainly about two characters falling in love set in the what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas backdrop.

Rae is a character that some might find hard to take at first. She’s a player in the true sense of the word. She works the black jack tables all the while constantly scouting the casino for women to seduce. She doesn’t care about who they are or even what their names are, she just wants uncomplicated quickies in the janitor’s closet. This has been going on for years and she’s come to accept that this is just who she is.

I think many will dislike her because she is so cool and callous in a way. In m/f she would be that rogue guy who sticks his dick into anything that moves, not quite the type of character one can warm up to. She’s also very ambitious and will not let anyone interfere with her getting her degree so she can run her own show one day. She doesn’t plan on being a company peon forever.

So generally, she’s forsaken any type of love relationship to get where she wants to go.

Cori, on the other hand, is a sympathetic character. She’s a quiet girl who doesn’t like partying too much and is just living an ordinary life in Seattle as a massage therapist. She would like a woman she can love and share her life with, but it’s not happening for her.

Cori and her friend from work go to Vegas for some work related events and Cori decides she’s going to let go and do something wild and crazy, to come out of her shell for the weekend. While sitting by the pool, Rae sees her and buys her a drink to seduce her. Cori is immediately attracted and they end up getting it on.

This time though, there’s an unusual twist, Rae finds herself feeling a bit more with Cori than just scratching a horny itch. She starts wondering why she feels that, while at the same time trying to figure out how to spend more time with Cori.

Cori for her part really wants Rae, but notices that until now Rae has been a player and she’s not interested in anything serious or long term and that turns her off somewhat. She even gets jealous when she ends up at a party and sees Rae getting off with some other woman. What she doesn’t know is that Rae is falling for her and wishes it was Cori she was with and that Rae was upset about that happening.

You can guess by now that the main conflict in this story is the big misunderstanding. Rae is fearful to really come out and share with Cori her growing feelings, but that has much to do with her own fears of falling in love in general. And Cori doesn’t want to be another notch on Rae’s belt so she keeps her feelings to herself.

The non communication and misunderstandings go on for quite a while on both sides. It’s not a favorite conflict device, but Jove Belle didn’t take it to an annoying level thankfully. I actually rather liked that Rae as a character changes quite a bit during this whole thing. It’s definitely one of those stories of meeting someone you have an immediate attraction to and it changing who you are and what you feel about yourself. So on that level I really enjoyed this story.

And I also liked that Jove Belle took this a bit further than just an erotic tale by showing some of the family backgrounds for both women. What’s interesting is that the jaded Rae has a very close relationship with her mother who accepts her and supports her totally. Whereas the more serious Cori comes from a family of homophobes and coldness from her parents. I felt this made the characters much more interesting than two quite different types who hook up for sex.

While for the most part I loved this story, it did hit the skids for me at one point though after Cori goes back to Seattle and both are trying to deal with each wanting the other but not expressing it. Their only contact is through curt emails. But one day they talk on the phone and go through this whole phone sex type thing, which I felt was totally out of character for both women since they had been cool with each other for a while. Also, Cori is a kind of straight type of person and she was acting in a way that was quite different than her characterization until that point. It felt off to me. However, the story did get back on track and there is a happy ending.

I recommend this story if you’re in the mood for lots of hot (yes, very steamy) sex, a love at first sight type of story, or one in which character growth through unexpected love turns you on.

Heat level: 5- graphically written sexual scenarios. One threesome scene f/f/f.

Grade: B+


Cathy in AK said...

Ah, the non-communication conflict. It's not easy to pull off, imo, without getting annoying, but it seems to have worked out here. I just read a m/f where it didn't :(

LVLM(Leah) said...

Yes... the big misunderstanding is my least favorite conflict device.

I think because Jove Belle diverted some of that energy into other areas is why this worked for me.

She went into personal things about the character in between not talking and I think this gave just enough break to not get annoyed.

Plus, I think she really didn't push it as others do at times.

Also, there was character growth that took away from some of that. If two characters don't change or are just stubborn, then the big misunderstanding can feel like a long cavern you never get out of.

Sorry about your m/f. I've read the big misunderstanding in m/f a lot as well, and it's not less pleasant. Although you can work the gender differences into that, which you can't in f/f.

Cathy in AK said...

Also, there was character growth that took away from some of that. If two characters don't change or are just stubborn, then the big misunderstanding can feel like a long cavern you never get out of.

I think that's what annoyed me about the m/f--the characters were basically the same people at the end of the day--and I'm glad to hear Jove Belle's book didn't fall into that mess. There were promises to change but I didn't buy it in the story I read. Plus, the book could have been trimmed waaaaaay down, imo. The "conflict" dragged on and on. I wanted to smack the hero, the heroine AND the author :)

LVLM(Leah) said...

Cathy you remind me of other reasons why the big misunderstanding could come off as OK.

Now I'm defending it? LOL

In this book, Rae carries on her part of the big misunderstanding because she's being confronted with feelings and emotions she's not felt before. She's in virgin territory for her and she's not quite sure how to proceed. How to act or what to do really.

When a character is confronted like that with a sudden change in their normal view of themselves and the world, that's a pretty good reason for heading into misunderstanding territory if it's not dragged out, as you say.

Cathy in AK said...

Agreed, Leah. If Rae is avoiding self-confrontation and that is the reason Cori is left in the dark (leading to The Big Misunderstanding) then the plot device is ok for me. Again, as long as it isn't dragged out :)

BTW, I haven't rec'd my winnings from the same contest yet :( I'll let you know when I do and have read the book.

LVLM(Leah) said...

Cathy- you didn't get your book yet? Hmmm... I got my a while ago. Like a week after she emailed me.

Maybe she forgot? I mean, it takes a little while longer to get to AK than the lower part, but it does seem to be a while. Unless she had to wait for it to be delivered to her first.

I hope yours is a good one!

And yes, let us know if you enjoyed it or not. :-)