Talia Spencer’s life is the epitome of boring and predictable. But then she meets him…
The first time she meets Casey Waltham, she’s buying condoms…for her grandmother. And of course drops them accidentally at his feet. Face plant.
The second time she sees him, she’s this close to landing her dream job and is celebrating at a club. Two chance encounters in the same day--that’s got to be a sign, right?
He’s charming and flirty and just what Talia needs for the night.
But it was just supposed to be a hook-up. At least, that’s what she thought...until he turns out to be her new boss...
About the Author
Katherine Garbera is the USA Today Bestselling author of more than 100 novels. Brought up in a loving home where creativity was encouraged she never considered writing as a career though she loved making up stories for her sisters and swim teammates. Instead she married young and started her family and only when it was time for her to return to a career she didn’t love did she start to think about writing as a way to stay home with her daughter.
She began writing and submitting her manuscripts to publishers in 1993 and in 1996 made her first sale to Harlequin Books. The Bachelor Next Door was deeply emotional and sensual and led to Katherine being named as a Woman to Watch by Harlequin Books and later selected by Cosmo magazine as a Woman Who Does Everything. The book was translated into over 33 languages.
To date, Katherine has published more than 100 novels including The Pirate, a Cosmopolitan Magazine selection as a Red Hot Read, His Royal Prize, a USA Today Bestseller and her most recent release a Barnes&Noble Christmas Must Read: Once Upon A Texas Christmas.
Her books deal with relationships in a realistic manner, dealing with problems that we all face including body image, self-doubt and falling for the wrong person. All of her books are passionate because as Katherine says who wants to read a book about people having bad sex!
She divorced after 17 years and her writing was a source of solace and escape for her as she worked through it. She found romance again and remarried in 2010. Katherine is a Florida girl at heart and loves the sunshine and pedicures. She makes her home in the Midlands of the UK with her husband and a very spoiled miniature dachshund and is visited frequently by her adult children. Her hobbies include art journaling, cooking, walking and shopping.
Read an Excerpt
Talia Spencer glanced down at her leg and then cursed again. The run in her pantyhose had spread all the way up her leg. She'd considered going without them, but she hadn't had time to shave her legs this morning and she was all Chewbacca down there. She glanced at her watch as she drove down the highway. The interview was in thirty-five minutes.
She couldn't be late. The Jokers Wild Casino was the newest on the Vegas Strip, and she desperately wanted a job there. She'd been intrigued the moment she'd first heard about it. The casino was co-owned by three Las Vegas mavericks — a gambler, an illusionist, and a daredevil stunt performer. Even now, her stomach churned when she thought of some of the stuff the third partner had done.
As much as she hated Las Vegas and resented the casinos that had been such a dominant part of her childhood, she needed a good paying job that she could use to springboard herself out of Nevada.
Sami Shroft, her best friend, had heard about the job through the office grapevine and put Talia's resume in for her. Sami liked to push and Talia was the first to admit that she needed a shove every now and then. She'd been raised by her grandmother — and her father, when he was flush with money.
He had been a charmer when Lady Luck was on his side, and he would splash out money like a high roller, even though he had only been a small-time gambler compared to the whales that frequented casinos. That had led to her dad getting in deep with several loan sharks. It had only been after his death from lung cancer, just days before her eighteenth birthday, that they'd learned how much he'd gambled.
The Jokers Wild Casino was probably one of the few on the Vegas Strip where she could enter without her last name being recognized. Most of them had repeatedly kicked her father out after he'd lost too much and become belligerent.
She signaled to change lanes, cutting off a sports car whose driver honked at her, but she just waved and muttered thanks under her breath, then turned just as the light switched to yellow.
Of course, there were no spaces near the front of the grocery store she'd promised her grandmother she'd stop at before her meeting, and she really didn't have time to drive up and down looking for a good spot, so she pulled into the first empty one she saw and then grabbed her purse as she got out. This was insane.
Her phone was blowing up with messages from a group chat she was in with the Sexy Silvers. It seemed her Gran had a hot lunch date with Glen View retirement village's version of Zac Efron. He was charming, good-looking and had managed to use those two things to work his way through many of the women in the senior community. Gran was susceptible to his charm — she'd mentioned more than once that she thought he was hot. Talia shook her head and grudgingly smiled. Yeah, her Gran wasn't the sit home and knit type. She kept her hair dyed jet black and styled, and wore cooler clothes than even Talia did. But as hip as Gran thought she was, Talia knew she was also a bit old-fashioned when it came to men. Gran's date was at six. The charmer didn't eat during the early-bird menu hours, so that meant that Talia would have time to make it home before her grandmother left, if she hurried.
She picked up another pair of stockings so she could change before her interview, then walked toward the area of the store where she knew they sold condoms. Gran didn't need a STD.
She paused in front of the selection. There were a lot of choices.
She grabbed her phone and texted her best friend Sami.
Talia: Which condoms are the best?
Sami: Hot damn, girl! Do you have a date?
Talia: Gran does. I'm late for my interview. Wine and whine tonight?
Sami: Yes. I don't know on the condoms. Most guys have a preference. I guess you can't get Gran to ask.
Talia: No. TTYL
She grabbed the first box her fingers touched as she turned on her heel and bumped into someone solid. The impact jarred her entire body and she felt the box slip from her fingers as she glanced up into eyes that were blue. The kind of blue that dominated the sky on a clear spring day. He had thick lashes and his eyebrows were dark brown and neatly groomed, she noted, as one of them arched.
She backed away and shook her head.
"I'm sorry. In a bit of a hurry," she said, bending to pick up the condoms. Then she realized he might think she was rushing to have sex. "It's not what you think."
He winked at her. "None of my business."
She just shook her head and moved around him and down the aisle toward the self-checkout. She glanced at her watch.
Five minutes later, she was opening the door to her ten-year-old hatchback that had seen better days. She stood next to the car for a minute, letting the heat escape, then glanced up at the sound of the low growl of an expensive engine. She'd worked the car show one year as a model when she'd been sixteen, so she was pretty sure the vehicle was a Bugatti Veyron. She'd been thrilled when her father had gotten her the gig ... until she'd found out that she'd been working to pay off one of his debts.
The car pulled to a stop next to her and the passenger window slid down slowly. "Need a lift?" "Uh, no. Thanks. Just letting my car cool down before I get in," she said. "Nice ride."
"I won it in a card game last weekend," he said.
A wave of disappointment went through her and she shook her head. Of course he was charming and hot, but none of that mattered now.
"You're a gambler," she said. Gran said not everyone who placed a bet was like her dad, but she wasn't going to take the chance.
"Wow. I've never heard so much loathing in one word before," he said.
"Sorry ... baggage."
He was driving a Veyron and was no doubt flush most of the time. Not like her father, who hadn't ever really had money unless he'd been to visit one of his loan sharks.
"I'm a responsible —"
"Let me stop you there," she said. "I know that gambling only hurts those with no self-control." She turned to look inside her car. "I think I'm good to go now. It's been interesting meeting you."
"You too, brown eyes," he said before he drove away. She watched him leave for another minute before she got in her own car and drove away.
Her pre-interview session was due to start in fifteen minutes, so she had to hurry to the Jokers Wild Casino. She ran inside and checked in before asking for the ladies' room. She changed her hose and then touched up her lipstick.
She needed this job.
Just like her dad had needed the dice to hit seven or eleven every time he threw them. Desperation. She had to shake it off.
She looked at herself in the mirror, meeting her own brown gaze.
"You got this."
Jokers Wild was the key to her finally getting out of Vegas. And that was something she'd wanted for a long, long time.
* * *
Casey Waltham was a poker playing phenomenon and had won his first million days after his eighteenth birthday. In the last ten years, he'd made more money than even he knew what to do with. He had the best toys that money could buy, and had learned that real friends hung around when life got shitty. In his case, those friends were his blood brothers — Darien Mitchell and Nicholas Pine.
They'd purchased one of the older casinos on the strip that had been in desperate need of a revamp. They'd torn it down and then invested in the areas where they all excelled. Casey was in charge of the day-to-day operations and running of the casino. Currently, he was in the process of introducing a new high-stakes poker room, with a game that would be played at the end of the month. But for it to be as successful as he knew it could be, he needed to hire a new social media/community manager.
Darien had overseen the design and construction of the high-stakes stunt stadium. It was state of the art and would be used for Darien's show during the winter months. He wasn't ready to give up touring during the summer yet. So, instead, during the hotter months, Darien had booked a few monster truck shows and other motor-based sporting events.
Nicholas's arena was taking slightly longer because of the intricacies of illusion and magic — stuff that Casey didn't understand but knew was important to ensure that Nicholas could complete his showstopping illusions every night. Once it was finished in about six months, the Jokers Wild would be officially complete and open for business.
So far, they were getting good press but the publicity manager wanted someone who understood social media in a way that he didn't. And since none of them knew how to delegate, they had the human resources department vetting applicants before they conducted the final interviews.
"Did you look at the list? I still don't think I'm going to be able to add anything to the interviews," Darien said as Casey walked into the executive office suite filled with floor to ceiling glass windows that offered an unobstructed view of the strip.
Darien wore his blond hair longish in a way that Casey's new assistant said made him look like a rogue and had a tattoo sleeve on one arm that was part memorial to his deceased father and part tribute to the legend that Dare had become. Darien had followed in his father's footsteps and was a badass motorcycle stuntman who took his show all over the world.
"We've already discussed this. Either we are all in or we hire a management company," Nicholas said from the corner. Tall, with close cropped black hair, Nick tended to dress all in black because he said it made his eyes seem more mercurial since they were an icy gray color. Nick was a master illusionist who was world-renowned for both his street magic and his arena shows. Casey figured that appearing mercurial only added to his mystique.
"Calm down, Houdini, I'm not saying that," Dare said. "You know I'm not really good with people."
"What's that got to do with the interviews?" Nick asked.
Dare rubbed the back of his neck. "Nothing. I just thought I'd throw it out there and see if you two would give me a pass."
"Nice try. But we're not going to let you just do the fun stuff," Casey said. "The files are over here. I think we should review them and have some questions ready for each of the candidates tomorrow."
They all settled around the large table in his office. It was a poker table, but for now, it was serving as a conference table until he decided what his office should look like. Casey tried to concentrate on the candidates, but he kept remembering the girl from the grocery store — the one buying condoms.
Why he was interested, he didn't know. She'd pretty much made it clear she didn't like gamblers, and he'd made his fortune playing poker. Vegas was like that — a mixed bag of those who believed in luck, and those who had been dragged along with them. He rubbed the back of his neck.
"We need to talk before the hiring manager comes in," Casey said, pulling his thoughts back to the business at hand. It was time to forget about her smile and those long legs that had kept him in a state of fascination as she'd walked away from him.
"We need a list of things we want to communicate about each of our lines of business," Casey said.
Darien shifted in his chair, stretched out his legs, and pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. "I've got a list I compiled with Rio's help. He has been good at getting the crowds at our shows this summer to engage."
Rio was Dare's younger brother and had been the one who'd pushed Dare into joining him and Nick on the casino. Rio hated living on the road and since they were the only family the other one had, Dare had decided to make their traveling show a permanent one in the Jokers Wild Casino. It would be a stunt bike spectacular.
"He also wants to offer some classes on stunt riding to our guests. It's something he hopes the new social media manager will set up, as well as create and manage a community," Dare added.
"I have a list as well," Nicholas said, producing it with a snap of his fingers.
"Do you have to do that?" Dare asked, annoyed.
"Yes," Nicholas said. "It's part of who I am."
Darien just shook his head. "That's like saying I should have roared off the elevator on my Harley."
"You could have, but that's not the same as what I did," Nicholas said, an odd look coming over his face. "It's second nature to me now."
"I think it's fun," Casey said. "Definitely do it when we meet with the candidates. As for me, I need the new hire to focus on the big poker tournament that we are hosting to open the high-stakes room and a few other things." He paused and looked at his friends. "A lot depends on us making a good hiring choice here. We should have a final list for Friday. Send your stuff to my assistant and I'll have her forward it to the candidates so they can be prepared."
"I can't be here for the final interviews," Darien said. "Do you care if Rio sits in for me?"
"Why not?" Casey asked.
"I have to meet with the team about the new show, as well as finish talking to our bike supplier."
"Can't Rio do that?" he asked.
"Yeah, but he's better with people. Besides, he's the one who will have to work with this person," Dare said.
"It's fine with me," Nick said. "But you can't delegate everything to Rio, you know."
"Okay," Casey said, bringing the group's focus back to business. "The World Poker Championship is going to take a lot of my energy right now. Winning the bid to host it was a huge win for Jokers Wild. I want to make sure that it's better than anything anyone has ever seen."
"You will. Are you playing?"
"Hell, yeah. I'm not about to invite the best players in the world to my backyard and not test myself against them."
After getting some ribbing about his lack of confidence, Casey wrapped up their meeting and walked down the hall to his office. He couldn't seem to get his mind off the girl at the grocery store. He wished he'd gotten her name and number, just in case. In a city as big as Vegas, the odds of them running into each other again were slim.
She had mentioned baggage, leading him to assume that she'd been involved with someone who'd had a gambling addiction. He understood how easily that could happen. Luckily, he had always known his own limits, but there were dealers in Vegas — and at tables all over the world — who preyed on those who couldn't resist trying to change their luck. In fact, that was why he'd come home.
His mom had been one of those people. From a very early age, Casey had realized he needed to learn how to bluff and play the odds, just to keep a roof over their heads and her out of jail.
Some of the people who had fed her addiction were on his list of players confirmed for the tournament. And Casey was going to make sure they didn't ruin the lives of anyone else.
* * *
The pre-interview had gone well. And if she didn't feel like it was bad luck, she'd even admit to herself that it had gone really well. Ms. Adana at the Jokers Wild Hotel and Casino had been really impressed with her resume and had approved her for the next step — a meeting with the owners at ten a.m. tomorrow. She glanced at the poster that hung on the side of the building, which showed the three owners. The first was Casey Waltham, poker player extraordinaire. He'd won his first multimillion-dollar jackpot before he was twenty-one, and had a reputation for being cold as ice at the table and away from it. The poster portrayed his trademark look — Armani shades and a dark hoodie hiding his features.
She assumed there were people who'd met him and never had a clue who he was.
Then there was Nicholas Pine, master illusionist. He had silver-colored eyes and always dressed in all black. For his shows, he favored designer suits, but for his street magic, he usually wore black jeans and a fitted T-shirt. She'd actually seen him a few years ago doing his act outside the Bellagio. He'd made someone's cell phone disappear, then reappear in the base of one of the streetlamps. She still couldn't figure out how he'd done it.
The third partner was Darien Mitchell. He looked like a badass, and had a smoldering sexuality about him that, no doubt, had women falling at his feet. But to Talia, he seemed like he'd be a lot of fun for a short time and then a lot of work. He was the son of famed motorcycle stuntman Ken Mitchell, and he had grown up in his father's shadow. Then three years ago, he'd surpassed his father by pulling off a stunt that was as dangerous as it was legendary.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "One Night Gamble"
Copyright © 2019 Katherine Garbera.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved the connection between Casey and Talks. Not only was it a strong physical and sexual one, but an inner demon kinda one too. They had very similar backgrounds that brought about a stronger bond and understanding. They were able to appreciate the other more. I loved how she brought out a softer side to him, one where he actually wanted more from her relationship wise. And I loved how he proved to her how much she was wanted and needed. It was a very sweet and spicy book. I loved her grandma and wish we could have seen more of her. Casey's friends were pretty awesome and brought about more entertainment and intrigue, especially Darien. I am looking forward to his book . I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
One Night Gamble by Katherine Garbera was just an okay read for me. The plot seemed rather thin and the characters were one dimensional. The potential was there but just never seemed to pan out.
This one is an office affair love story. After having hot one-night stand Talia is surprised to see that Spencer is one of her new bosses. They start their affair but will Talia get over that Spencer is a gambler and that that is a big part of his life? I couldn't relate to this love story. Both main characters didn't speak to me. Especially Talia. She didn't fight at all not to have a secret relationship with the boss. Her reservation toward Spencer because he was gambler was also for me not solid because we see from the start that he is a successful man, with no depth, with no alcohol, drugs or womanizer issue so story plot was for me lame. I hope that the other two will have a better story than this one. I volunteered to review an ARC of this book for Netgelly
One Night Gamble is the first book in a new series about three casino owners and friends. Casey, the gambler of the trio, has a meet cute in the condom aisle of a grocery store with Talia, the woman who's on her way to an interview with his company (but stopping for pantyhose--for her--and condoms--for her grandmother--as one does). She interviews with company underlings, it goes well, she celebrates in his casino that night (for research, of course), they have a one night stand, and the next morning when she interviews with the owners--you know where this is going, right? For the most part, this was an I liked it, but... kind of story. I liked Casey and Talia together, but things between them moved really fast, especially considering he was her boss. At one point they already felt like an established couple nearly at their HEA, until I realized that I was only at about 60% in the book! You know going in that Talia's going to have some major emotional and psychological hangups with their relationship because of her past--she's the daughter of a gambling addict, and he's a poker player at heart--which seems like a great source of conflict, right? It is, but it seemed to take way too long for her to really commit to it, so that by the time she does it felt a bit overblown and reactionary. A kind of why is this suddenly bothering you now? kind of thing--it was like everything he'd been trying to show her all along suddenly meant nothing. For his part, Casey's problems with Darien (one of the other co-owners and best friends) seemed a bit over-the-top and too little too late by the time they become a real issue--maybe we just don't see him enough until that point for it to seem like a big deal?--but suddenly they're a big part of why Casey and Talia are calling it quits? So...a whole lot of I liked it, but... There were some pretty funny moments, and a whole lot of sexy times, and the three friends at the heart of the casino all sound really interesting in their own rights. Darien's (a stuntman/ daredevil) clearly going to have a second chance romance plot to his story, though the epilogue here lets us know that Nick (the illusionist) will have his story next, and I'll be keeping a eye out for that one to see if there's more I liked it than buts... in book two. ;) Rating: 3 stars / C+ I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
This is the first book of the Joker's Wild series and my very first book by Katherine Garbera. It is a fun, sexy but also sweet story of Talia Spencer and Casey Waltham and I enjoyed reading it. The plot is great, storytelling is good and the characters are well build. I kinda have more sympathies for Casey here, Talia is a bit more complexed and she has to go over some things from the past so she could live happily in the future. I liked grandmother's situations that made me smile too. I am not getting into the story itself, you have the blurb for that, I just want to add that I had nice time reading it and helped me to spend nice time during this cold winter days. I am looking forward of reading the next instalments of this series.
Tallia was a whiner got on my nerve, but I wouldn’t say not read it was good.
4 1/2 STARS! Steamy, fresh and full of angst! I really enjoyed the kick-off to the Joker's Wild series! It's encompassed with a unique hero and the journey towards happily ever after even when it seems like the cards might be stacked against him. There was a rich background given on both main characters and a plot that moved at an adequate pace to keep our attention and yet keep us guessing at the same time. Looking forward to more in the series! Talia Spencer can't believe she meets a hot guy and immediately embarrasses herself by dropping condoms at his feet. To later run into him when she's out at a club celebrating her possible new job just seems like a sign to her. Why not live it up and have a wild night with a sexy stranger? It's not until the next day that she realizes it's a bad idea ... when he walks into the interview as her potential new boss! Casey Waltham owns the brand new Vegas casino Jokers Wild with his two best friends. He's determined to make a success of their newest venture, and they all agree that Talia is just what they need in the social media marketing position ... even if he can't keep his thoughts from turning lusty at the very sight of her! Can he manage to convince her that what he does for a living isn't all that bad?
I really liked this book. I thought it was cute and funny how fate works to bring to people that were meant to be together. Talia and Casey might have met by chance at the grocery store when Talia was getting condoms for her grandmother but when two people are meant to be together nothing will prevent that from happening. I really liked Casey and Talia together and I can’t wait for the next book of this series and read about Nick. -***Received this ARC by NetGalley as an exchange for an honest review.
One Night Gamble made such a compelling argument for me to not finish reading it: All of the characters thought so highly of themselves through their selfish thoughts, yet were deeply insecure and so dang boring because of this disastrous combination. Even the premise that initially made me want to read this book (meet-cute where Casey meets Talia while she is purchasing condoms for her grandmother) was so dull, with no memorable one-liners or reasons for me to wonder why these two individuals should be together. There was not heat, no connection or even a slow build between Talia and Casey and my experience reading this novel was very much swayed by this lack of excitement twofold. The conversations between Talia and Casey were not realistic and mediocre, example provided: ‘Do you believe in fate?’. Gems like these dropped throughout the book and my gag reflex is now out of commission because of it. The complete unreality and plain dumbness of the characters knew no bounds— Talia did not realize she was hooking up with a gambler named Casey, even after Casey introduces himself by name to her on the way up to his penthouse inside of the hotel that he co-owns? Hard to swallow that non-explanation. If you’re in the mood for sex scenes with cringe-y cliché one-liners as a post-coital follow-up embark on a One Night Gamble, better read as a one-night-stand, you don’t know what you’re gonna get until it’s over. I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This is a sexy and engaging tale that I just loved. Casey is the self made man who pulled himself off the street by gambling and becoming a very successful poker play, while Talia is the throw away child of a gambler who lost everything important. When they first meet, the sparks fly and they embark on what both thought would be a one night stand. The next day, Talia shows up to interview for a job at a casino that Casey co-owns with his best friends. What could go wrong, right? I especially loved the moments where Talia's grandma was involved - she added some depth and character to Talia and her back story. While, at times, this book felt very formulaic, it was still a thoroughly enjoyable novel and I look forward to reading more by this author. If you enjoy the genre, you will love this book