Mimi Smith's Reviews > The Gamble

The Gamble by Kristen Ashley
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's review
Jan 13, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-romance

4 stars

Warning! This will be a looooong review!


First of all, I need to say this is a looooong book(ergo the review). It's twice the length of Outlander, and if you've read the book you know what THAT means(and if you haven't you need to read it immediately, but FYI The Gamble has 1400+ Kindle pages, and the average book has 250-300). I thought the book flowed well, though, my only stalling point was the beginning. BUT, I thought there were many unnecessary details, so I admit to a little skimming. I don't really need to know where every chair, lamp and rug at the house are. I don't really care about every outfit Nina has and every meal she's eaten.

Most of that precision stems from the way the book was written. It's a first person recount of everything that happens to Nina after she gets to Gnaw Bone, Colorado(Yes the town is called Gnaw Bone, lol). And I do mean everything, which was good in some ways, bad in others. I liked the first person telling, it's different than most Contemporaries, it really made me feel close to Nina and reading about her thought processes made me understand her decisions.

The story

A LOT of things happen here, but the main story is this, keeping it spoiler free.

Nina comes to Colorado on a two week vacation, as a "timeout" so she can think about her life, more specifically her upcoming marriage to Niles(if I hadn't known who the hero was I would have known right away it's not Niles. No hero is named Niles). She reserves a homey house online, but when she arrives, she learns there's been a mistake and the house's owner Max, is home. He is also extremely grouchy(and HOT), unwilling to cooperate and quite ready to throw her out and let her go to a hotel. At least, until he sees more of her... Through a (fortunate) set of circumstances Nina is forced to stay in the house and during that time Max decides to keep her and their budding romance begins...

From there, a set of small threads continue. Nina's self-evaluation and her romance with Max, the problems of town people(including Mindy, Bitsy, Harry, Shauna...) and The Murder...

Small Town Romance

I don't know why, but this is a popular theme amongst the Contemp authors nowadays. I liked Gnaw Bone and its people, though. There's a lot of them mentioned, they're all different, with their own lives and sets of problems. They're not just convenient add-ons who serve a slot in a character's life or an obvious future hero/heroine. We get to really meet these characters and learn about their pasts, relationships and current problems. They're all different and the only thing they have in common is their nosiness. They're also not all positive. There's a lot of drama, a lot of secrets and it really makes the Suspense and the atmosphere more interesting. they actually compared it to a Colorado Melrose Place.


I really liked Nina. She has gone through a lot in her life. A rocky family situation, loss of loved ones, a series of bad relationships, but she stuck it out. Now she's in Nowhere, Colorado and a "Macho Mountain Man" is getting to her, when she thought she will never let herself fall again. We really get to know Nina. She's feisty, stubborn, funny and used to loneliness. She's closed herself off and watching her confusion and indecision made me feel for her. She's not perfect. She's got faults and issues and we learn and see her sort out a lot of them here.

I also liked the little things-her British accent and her insistence she doesn't have one, her posh manners and shopping-sprees. I like the fact she likes to cook, but is also a hell of a lawyer. The fact she sleeps like the dead and is "Zombie Nina"(I like that one, Max) in the morning.

She is a real, rounded up character, with hobbies, quirks and bad sides. All the main characters are too.


Max is grouchy...And hot. He's also commanding and autocratic at times, which I struggled with, at first. But later, once I got to know him better, I saw that while he does make command-like statements, he doesn't really expect or want someone complacent. He makes all the important decisions with Nina. I liked the little ways through which he shows his emotions. The gifts, the hand-holding, the attention he pays to her. I really liked him, but I did find it weird how many conversations go like this...

“You’ve got a great ass, Nina.”
“Max –”
“You aren’t fat.”
“Max –”
“Your whole body is fuckin’ beautiful.”
My heart skipped a beat and my stomach melted as did my body and it did this into him and I said again,
“Max –”
“Not a big fan of my woman running herself down, not even doin’ it as a joke. You got an unbelievably pretty face, fantastic fuckin’ eyes and a spectacular body.”
“Max, I –”

Just substitute his statements with some OTHER statements and commands.

He does tend to talk over her sometimes, but since over half of those conversations are in bed and a lot of them were about her safety and compliments he paid her, I (kind of?) got over it.

I liked the fact that he built the house himself, that he's messed up, too, that he's proud and has bad moments and good moments, like everyone. He likes to tease and needle Nina and can't take his eyes off of her, which really made me love him.

Falling In Love

I loved, loved, LOVED the way we get to see every step of falling in love. The attraction, flirting bantering. Learning of small gestures and preferences. Talking about small thing, like...

I ignored his grin and the way it communicated he thought I was adorable (and the way that made me feel) and continued, “Icky stuff, icky stuff that could get you into trouble. Don’t you watch television?”
“Not much.”
“Well, your every day pedophile probably wouldn’t hesitate renting a beautiful, A-Frame in the mountains and enjoying himself by accessing your one, two, three, four computer.”
“Jesus, darlin’.”
“Sick people are everywhere. Just watch Criminal Minds.”

I'm a fan of the show, so that stuck out for me. They also talk about Big Things. Their family, their past, the things that shaped them. then later on, the future, their plans, everything. I loved the gift-exchanging, the dates, arguments, the adjusting, jealousy, the reservations. It's not smooth. They're just two people just starting to learn each other, and they act accordingly. And the pet names are cute, especially for her-Duchess.

Most of the book is seeing them fall in love through all these conversations and (some) adventures. That and Nina's inner thoughts.

The Mystery

A man hated in the town was murdered. There's no shortage of suspects and his death will drag out a lot of memories. Because of all that I had fun reading about it all. Who did it? Why? And I was a bit surprised at the end.

I was glad that there was no amateurish sleuthing done here. Our protagonists are merely people affected by the death and all the investigating is done by professionals. It's refreshing!


There were a lot of editing mistakes here, like Your instead of You're, lack of commas, long, complicated sentences I had to re-read to understand. After a while I got used to it, though. So if you're one of the people who are majorly bothered by that kind of stuff, don't read this.


I liked this book, mainly because I like reading about well-written characters and relationships that actually develop. However, although there's a lot of stuff happening, it's not an action filled, fast paced book. It's not a 5 star read because it dragged a bit and because of the editing, but the rest is fun. I'll definitely check out other books by Ms. Ashley.

And finally two statements of Max's that I loved. I found them very realistic and painfully honest, about life and loss.

“I ain’t a figment of your imagination, Duchess, I didn’t start my existence the night you drove up to my house. I had a life, a wife. I got a family, friends, a history.“

“You lose anyone, there’s no replacing them. What you need to get is that’s precious, you get to keep that, you don’t want to replace it. That doesn’t mean you can’t find something else just as good.”

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Reading Progress

January 13, 2012 – Shelved
Started Reading
January 17, 2012 – Finished Reading
July 16, 2014 – Shelved as: contemporary-romance

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Wminbc You know what is funny...this is the first book I read on Kindle so didn't understand the length thing since not in pages as such...it seemed to take me a long time to read (3 nights, when I usually do a book a night), but it didn't seem long at ALL...loved every chapter!

Mimi Smith Wminbc wrote: "You know what is funny...this is the first book I read on Kindle so didn't understand the length thing since not in pages as such...it seemed to take me a long time to read (3 nights, when I usuall..."

I had a similar reaction. But it still felt a bit scary, when starting. And so many things happen...Writing a review was daunting. How to say everything important in a single review?

Still I loved this book and I hope I explained that. I liked the sequel Sweet Dreams and Lady Luck seems good so far:).

Wminbc Ya...you did a great job! I don't let the length scare me ever. A review is your impression, likes and dislikes...some one doesn't like it, C'est la vie!
I did love your comment about the conversations...sometimes I had to go back and re-read those since they shot at you like a machine gun or like you quoted above, Maxy talking over her and over her and cutting her off constantly. His potty mouth I actually likes (reading Wild Man now, and Brock is a bit too brutally vulgar at times). I just could believe some of the things that happened to her. Check out my review for Kiss a Falling Star (I LOVED THAT BOOK)! and highly recommend if you liked this book. Have an awesome day, Karia

Anna (Bobs Her Hair) Some readers didn't like Nina, but she sounds interesting. After reading your review I am now interested in this story. It's longer than Outlander, which is War and Peace long. Well then, I'll read that too.

Love your review and how you detailed Nina, her romance, and how Max won you over. :)

Mimi Smith Anna wrote: "Some readers didn't like Nina, but she sounds interesting. After reading your review I am now interested in this story. It's longer than Outlander, which is War and Peace long. Well then, I'll r..."

Thanks! Yes, I liked Nina, but I understand why some didn't. She is very wary of relationships(due to her bad experiences), so it feels sometimes like she is looking for problems, where there are none, or even trying to sabotage the relationship.
Still, her inability to believe in something good really tugged at my heartstrings.

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