Title: To Love A Gambler
Author: Jennifer Lynn Hoffman
Published in 2006 by Awe-Struck E-Books
Betting her last pieces of gold, Cora Sullivan needs to win enough money to pay her fatherís bank loan, and leave enough to restock her bare larder, too. Once the financial matters are ensured Cora can work her fatherís gold claim, where a bounty is just waiting for discovery. Now, if she can just keep her mind on her cards, instead of the handsome newcomer.
Jared Matthews knows that a womanís presence in a gaming hall portends carnal intentions, but it is obvious Cora is here strictly to gamble. More so when she corrects his assumption about her ďstationĒ in the hall, noting her husky voice that hides unshed tears. He is curious to find out why a stunning woman would be gambling the last of her income. His personal musings also reminds Jared something his father had said when he was a boy; that when seeing a vision in a woman, she is the one he will marry. Feeling protective, he encourages Cora to stop playing before she looses everything. Cora plays the fateful hand where Jared wins her fatherís gold claim. She leaves the hall in a daze as Jared follows, asking her to teach him how to pan for nuggets while giving her free room and board; Cora barters a weekly salary before agreeing, though never mentions the outstanding loan. After dining in the townís restaurant, Cora is astonished when they must share the only bed available in the hotel; she chooses the floor as a way to retain some respectability. The coldness of the night has her creeping into bed with Jared, where he tucks her in nice and tightly.
The next morning Cora finds Jared gone and after making inquiries for any messages she believes he has deserted her. Dismayed, Cora heads towards her fatherís bank to beg for an extension on the note. Thinking she is prostituting herself to make ends meet, the banker extends her note one week with a condition that no men be present on her claim; or he will foreclose on her, immediately. As Cora readies to leave town Jared catches up reprimanding her for not waiting. When arriving at the cabin Jared is embarrassed to learn that Cora can hunt, whereas he cannot, much less cook. She offers him the use of her fatherís room and clothes furthering Jaredís amazement at Coraís strength and resilience in spite of her hardships. Jared obviously has lived an easy life but will learn quickly that surviving in the Montana Territory takes hardiness and resolve. Showing him how to pan for gold Jared lacks confidence but Coraís determined to teach him; after all he owns the gold claim. However, seeing her in menís trousers has Jared thinking of other things, like that deep though gentle kiss they just shared.
Cora awakens Jared at four in the morning to go hunting, which makes him snarly the rest of the day. Setting up camp, they cook a rabbit as Cora assures him that tomorrow they will kill a deer. During the night a pack of wolves visits showing Jared, Coraís calm confidence in getting rid of the predators. After shooting a deer the next morning, Jared and Cora begin their trek back to the cabin. When arriving Cora spots the banker approaching her home. Thinking fast she asks Jared to stay in the trees, while explaining the terms the banker set on her fatherís bank note. Cora sneaks into the cabinís back door, changes clothes and then meets the banker on the front porch. Inviting him in for coffee, she is stunned by the bankerís intentions to marry her whether the loan is paid in full or defaults. In declining the offer he attacks Cora, ripping the bodice of her dress as Jared comes to her aid.
Sending the banker on his way with a threat, Jared holds her and assures Cora that the man is gone. Being together so long in close proximity has Jared praying for a miracle that will keep her closeÖalways. Deciding on her own that she wants Jared, Cora kisses him while allowing him to caress her body. Making love for the first time, Jared introduces Cora to a loving that makes her body hum with ecstasy. In the after glow, Jared realizes that he canít have a future with her; not with a bounty on his head for murder reminding him that he must leave very soon. Afterwards, thereís a knock at the door, revealing a man asking for the Sullivanís. At that moment Cora recognizes the visitor and runs into his arms. Tristan Robbins is his name, giving Jared misgivings in thinking Cora was his and his alone.
To Love A Gambler is a sincere story that moves forward through its well-written plot, which is unique as it has the manís role played by a woman; Cora teaches Jared how to hunt and pan gold instead of the other way around. Ms. Hoffmanís down-to-earth characters make for an engrossing read as Cora Sullivan is a feisty easterner who moves to the Montana Territory to help her father mine for gold. Between her adventurous spirit and unbending courage, she has survived quite well without the protection of a man; she can hunt and play poker with the best of men. An easterner too, Jared is a man who has led an affluent life but now is on the run after being accused of murdering his mistress. Although heís a man with a kind heart with warm intentions as he brings out the woman in Cora. Published by Awe-Struck E-Books, To Love A Gambler is a wholesome and interesting story that I enjoyed reading.
A dedicated reader,