I really liked this storyís opening. The prologue -- where the seventeen-year-old Ace Wilde is beaten up but still manages to con his way into getting and holding onto enough money to save the family ranch -- was great. The opening chapter is even better where the older and much richer Ace discovers even he, the champion hustler, can get out-hustled by a beautiful redheaded pool player. Ace is drunk and out a thousand dollars before he realizes he has been tricked. He doesnít take the realization kindly.
Since it turns out that Ally Brady, the pool shark, is his newly hired secretary, there is lots of potential for complications. Ally has plenty of problems -- she needs money (from her pool playing and her salary) to keep her crippled grandfatherís ranch going but she knows her grandfather hates the Wilde family. Ace has some problems of his own. He is busy trying to figure out who is sabotaging his mining business and hoping it isnít his newest employee.
As you may have guessed, Ally and Aceís courtship doesnít run smoothly. There is another fine episode where Ally finally decides to make love with Ace and has a perfectly planned seduction scene in mind. Since I have a dog who is prone to barf at parties, I confess I enjoyed it when Ally lures Ace into the house and finds her two dogs have eaten or destroyed every part of her beautifully cooked dinner. The final blow is where the dog goes over to her while she is still in her sexy dress, sticks his head against her and . . . well, I guess you get the idea. Aceís reaction -- after he laughs himself sick
-- is to salvage dinner and get the girl anyhow. He gets lots of points on my scorecard for managing to carry that off.
Aceís relationship with his brothers is great, too. You get the feeling all of them would probably die for each other, if they donít kill each other first. They often discuss things with a few fists to the jaw first. But they do actually resolve the problems eventually. Together they manage to take care of Aceís romantic and business problems in this book and resolve some family history.
I did suddenly realize I was thinking MacKade. As in the Nora Robertsí series on the MacKade brothers which is about orphaned brothers who fought each other for fun and stuck together no matter what. There are even some memorable pool scenes in Robertsí books. The two authorsí books arenít directly comparable, but they are close enough to make me start comparing. Darn. And while this one had some really good scenes, I still have to hand the championship for recording brother bonding to Nora Roberts.
Iíll admit I havenít read all of this series -- and Iím sorry that Iím reading the last of the three books, but this book is very, very good. It may not be superlative but very, very good is still worth a read. Go ahead and try it. Try to find the first two books as well. Iím going to look for them.