Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blog Tour: A Game of Chance by Lauren Linwood (Review + Giveaway)

Love Saves the World welcomes Lauren Linwood and her novel, A Game of Chance!

For this blog tour, Lauren is hosting a tour-wide Rafflecopter Commenter Giveaway for a $10.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card and five (5) digital copies of A Game of Chance. To visit Lauren's other stops, click here.

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About the book:


Gambler Jed Stone journeys to California to track down Simon Morgan, the man responsible for his best friend’s death. Arrested for robbery and murder upon arrival, Jed is shocked to see his face on a wanted poster. He escapes before his hanging, unaware that the man guilty of those crimes is the twin brother he never knew existed. In a case of mistaken identity, Jed acquires the most famous whorehouse in San Francisco in a rigged card game his twin is meant to win.

Lily Frontiere takes over running Lucky Lil’s from her dying mother, the house madam who shielded her by sending her away to boarding school. Lily’s intelligence and astonishing resemblance to her mother help in her charade, but she’s entered a world she knows little about. She clashes with the handsome stranger who turns up with the deed to Lucky Lil’s in hand, yet she is attracted to the charming risk taker.

Jed asks Madam Lil to stay on as he learns the business and is fooled by Lily’s performance until he stumbles upon the real Madam Lil and learns the truth behind Lily’s deception. His admiration for Lily blossoms into love.

But Simon Morgan seeks both Lily’s hand and ownership of Lucky Lil’s—and he will go to any means to possess both. Will Jed foil his nemesis while bringing his outlaw brother to justice and win Lily’s love?

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My Review:

Four names to remember: Jed Stone, Cal Hart Fisher, Lillian Frontiere and Lily Frontiere. These are the central characters in Lauren Linwood's western-set historical romance, A Game of Chance. After serving as a soldier and making his way through the South making a living as a gambler, Jed Stone has come to the West to seek his fortune and to find a man named Simon Morgan, who is responsible for his friend, Louis's death. Unfortunately, the first thing that happens to Jed when he arrives is to be arrested for crimes committed by a man named Cal Hart, who is a dead-ringer for Jed.

After escaping the hangman's noose in a prison riot, Jed finds himself at Lucky Lil and makes the acquaintance of the house's owner, the beautiful (albeit older) Lil Frontiere.

What the world does not know is that it is the madam's young daughter, Lily Frontiere who has been masquerading as Lil these past few months. The real Lil has been sick and is dying. Lily has done a good job filling in her mother's shoes and to keep their business afloat -- but all of it is for naught, when her mother reveals of her past gambling debts and that Lucky Lil's has been mortgaged with payments due in a month.

Before Lily could make any decision regarding their business, ownership of Lucky Lil's changes hands in a card game and the new owner is no other but Jed Stone.

Lily really wants to hate Jed for so many reasons: for usurping their business, for his ill-treatment of one of her girls, Sarah Jane, and for their first meeting at her friend, Max's house. But the Jed Stone working with her is a far cry from the Jed Stone who would physically abuse Sarah Jane and would be so rude to Lily -- how could two such disparate personalities exist in one being?

Lily bit the inside of her cheek. The welts and bite marks that had covered Sarah Jane's body filled her memory. How could she be so easily persuaded by the man that stood in front of her? Did he truly not remember his previous, abominable conduct?
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The simple answer is that they don't. A man named Cal Fisher is also in town and he looks exactly like Jed Stone. Cal also happens to be Max's great grandson and heir to Max's fortunes -- except that Cal has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

It was a bit tricky to keep track of the Cal/Jed confusion but Linwood does a good job of creating very distinct personalities for the two and, while distinct, it is not to say that one is a saint and the other a sinner. Jed admits to the mistakes of his past and is sincere in trying to better his life. It is this quality that Lily admires so much about him.

One thing I wondered about the Jed/Cal identity mix-up is how it could have been perpetrated in the town. I understand why Lily would be confused because she had been away to boarding school but, I would have thought the locals and long-time residents of the area would have known who Cal was because of his connection to Max Fisher, who seemed to be the wealthiest and most important man in their area. It also seemed like such a wild coincidence that Jed grew a beard to change his appearance and that Cal was sporting a beard at the same time (in the wanted poster) and then, when Jed decides to shave it off and grow a must ache, Cal does the same. But, then again, I have read (in real life) how twins seem to have a sort of link and that coincidences such as this is natural. However, in the story, there were people who could've clarified the confusion at an earlier point (the sheriff? Max or Harold?) but, I understand the need to prolong the suspense over the two characters.

What I loved more was the Lillian/Lily masquerade. It's ironic that Lillian had exerted such great effort and expended such great energy to protect Lily from their "business" -- but Lily is very good at it. She keeps better books and is very fair to the girls in her employ. At first, Lily is only playacting -- but, as the months pass, she slowly forgets herself as she pretends to be her mother more and more. It is a brave decision for Lily, who is very young and very innocent -- and becomes a little bit complicated when she becomes attracted to Jed, who is, in turn, attracted to her pretending to be her mother. Is it the sassy and sexy Lil that Jed is attracted to?

I also loved the parallelism in the situation of the hero and heroine: both have an "other" side which they must wrestle with and the movement from awareness, to denial to acceptance is very clear and quite heartening. It's such a gentle love that develops between the two and I thought it was nice that it was a deliberate choice for them to be together (not driven by lust or desire).

"I must be a mess!" she cried, thinking how her tears had caused the heavy eyeliner to smear.

Jed smiled at her. "You're a beautiful mess." He kissed her soundly. "And you're my mess." He kissed her again.
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The story really gains momentum after the initial setup of the story, which was a bit confusing, and the latter part of the story is quite the page-turner. In the end, Linwood skill at telling a story shines through and she definitely won me over with the very loyal and steadfast Harold, who serves as butler and friend to Max.

Disclosure: I received this review copy from the tour organiser. Yes, this is an honest review.

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About the author:

As a child, Lauren Linwood gathered her neighborhood friends together and made up stories for them to act out, her first venture into creating memorable characters. Following her passion for history and love of learning, she became a teacher who began writing on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones.

Lauren’s novels focus on two of her favorite eras, medieval times and the American Old West. History is the backdrop that places her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire and yearning for one another grows into the deep, tender, treasured gift of love.

Lauren, a native Texan, lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with five mile walks. She is thinking about starting a support group for Pinterest and House Hunters addicts.

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For this blog tour, Lauren is hosting a tour-wide Rafflecopter Commenter Giveaway for a $10.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card and five (50 digital copies of A Game of Chance. To visit Lauren's other stops, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for hosting me on your blog today, Tin, and letting me share a little bit about Jed & Lily with your readers!



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