Review: Stroke of Luck – Opal Carew
by Opal Carew
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
The newest erotic romance from bestselling author Opal Carew.
Getting cheated on and left with a hotel bill that costs more than she makes in a year was not a part of the plan when Riana came to Las Vegas to marry her wealthy fiancé. Her plans also didn't include getting bailed out of this horrible situation by Quinn, the ex-boyfriend she hadn't planned to see ever again. For Quinn, Riana was the one that got away and he's never gotten over her, no matter how successful he became.
Riana insists on paying Quinn back, so he makes her an offer--spend the next month with him and his business partner Austin while they're on vacation. It's clear to him that Austin is attracted to her, too, and Quinn's always liked the idea of sharing a woman with him. It's something that Riana wants to do, and after a few glasses of champagne--only enough to stop denying herself what she wants--she voices her desire to be with both men.
But as the month comes to an end, Riana has to face the reality she's falling for Quinn and Austin...and the possibility that one crazy night in Vegas could cost her one--or both--men.
Content warnings: View Spoiler »drinking, gambling, cheating, so many consent issues (pushing boundaries) « Hide Spoiler
I picked this book up because it sounded like it could be some pretty fun wish fulfillment and I’m a sucker for second-chance romances. Unfortunately, it really didn’t work for me. To explain why, this post will contain spoilers for the book.
After April discovers her fiancé cheating on her during their rehearsal dinner in Las Vegas, he sticks her with the hotel bill and jets. Luckily she runs into Quinn, her college boyfriend, and his business partner, Austin. Though Quinn still has feelings for April, he’s convinced she dumped him for a rich guy because she’s a gold digger. He pays off her bill and offers her a place to stay, but refuses to allow April to pay him back – with money at least. April offers to have a relationship with him for the month he’s in Vegas, and he agrees, with one change – the relationship will be with him and Austin.
My first issue was the inexplicable constant POV changes. On one page, for instance, it switches three times: one POV as they are walking up to a table, then the heroine’s POV as she sits in a chair (why???), and then back to the original POV, then finally to the other man’s POV. It was jarring and confusing, especially when some of the POV sections were only a few sentences long and didn’t seem to add anything to the story. The second chance element was also a bit confusing. Apparently April dumped Quinn because he had the tendency to get really involved in his work, and, as someone who was abandoned as a baby and grew up in the foster care system, she needed more attention but didn’t want to be a distraction to him. So, she dumped him and then ended up almost immediately with a rich guy who lavished her with things and attention – all the security she craved (girl, no, what you actually need is a crapton of therapy). When this “reasoning” comes out, it’s portrayed solely as a mark against Quinn, which made me wonder how April would deal with the same issue after they left Las Vegas and went back to their real lives.
With multiple millionaires (who, by the way, are apparently capable of taking four weeks of vacation where they never have to worry about work) and a glitzy Las Vegas setting, I was expecting lots of luxury. But that’s not what we get. Sure, they’re staying at a penthouse suite with a pool, but it’s never really described. We’re told they go on a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon and see several hilarious shows, that April goes shopping at the hotel for luxurious clothes, but besides one dress that’s minimally described and some lingerie, that’s it. Even the men themselves aren’t described that much, though we get lots about April’s blonde hair and so, so much about her boobs.
What really made me uncomfortable, though, was the consent issues. The idea of April “working off” her debt through a sexual relationship is an iffy prospect, but I’ve seen similar situations handled well before. This was not one of those cases. April is constantly being pushed into doing things that she’s not comfortable with, sometimes with a lot of alcohol involved. I mean, for goodness’ sake, they get drunk and then get married – drunk enough that April doesn’t remember it the next day. There’s also a sort of dom/sub relationship between Quinn and April, but there was never sort of any safety discussion. Even worse, once Quinn and April admit their feelings for each other, that aspect of their relationship disappears because now they’re going to “make love like a real husband and wife”. The reason why Quinn and Austin want to share April isn’t really covered, other than that they both care for her – they’re not interested in each other sexually. All in all, there’s no real chemistry between the characters and the sex scenes felt, well, rote.
Overall, this book missed the mark for me.