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Lucky Streak
by Carly Phillips
(HQN, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0373-77375-6
***
The Corwin curse is in full swing, especially if you look at the previous generation and not the current one.  Phillips second entry into this series is fun and engaging, with less to do about the curse than about family dynamics, relationships and what loving someone really means.  I liked Lucky Streak better than the first book in the series and was engaged enough to keep an eye out for the third installment.

If you haven’t read Lucky Charm, the story goes that over a century ago, a witch put a curse on the Corwin males of Stewart, Massachusetts, saying that if they find love, they will ultimately lose that love along with their fortunes.  There have been generations of males whose lives have seen heartache, from losses in fires and floods, to divorces and other nastiness.   The current group of males are all in their late twenties and have been raised by fathers who have been affected in different ways by the curse. 

Mike is the son of Edward.  Edward has feuded with his brother Thomas since Thomas “stole” the woman Edward wanted for himself.  Edward married another woman, but he was so obsessed with the curse that his wife left him and is now remarried. Mike loves his father but was always uncomfortable when his dad would start his angry tirades about the curse. Edward has isolated himself from the town and is into voodoo and other things to ward off the evil from the curse.  He is bit crazy.

Mike isolated himself from the problems by living in Boston and becoming a cop.  Now a detective, he has always valued stability, something he craved as a child.  The story opens in Las Vegas, where Mike is celebrating his partner’s wedding with members of his team.  He meets a lady who seems to be having some issues with a man bothering her.  He rescues her and after a crazy day of fun and drinking, they end up winning $150,000 in a slot machine. They also end up married and in bed. When Mike wakes up, the girl and the money are gone and he is left with a sinking feeling of loss, a piece of paper stating he is legally wed and only a name to find her.

Amber Rose is the daughter of a con man who made his living gambling thanks to his gift for counting cards. Amber inherited that gift. She left Vegas to be a concierge at a major hotel chain, putting her photographic memory to better use. But a few months ago, her father developed Alzheimer’s and needed to be placed in a nursing home. The only way Amber could figure out how to get the kind of money she needed was with her talent. She teamed up with Marshall, a guy who used to work with her father and they made what she needed. The day she met Mike, Amber was breaking it off with Marshall, who was less than happy to watch his meal ticket walk away. The morning after, he kidnapped Amber’s father and told her she needed to do one more game with him, or she would never see her dad again.  <

While this sounds very convoluted, this plot line did work in the story. Amber comes to Boston to bring Mike his money back, knowing she was only borrowing it to get her father back.  But she has to explain her life to Mike, and it's a life that doesn’t sound good to Mr. Right and Wrong – because as a cop, Mike sees most of life in black and white.  The book really explores relationships – Mike and Amber, Mike and his father, his father and the world, and Amber and the rest of his family.  Each of them has things to learn and Amber both learns and teaches.  The interplay between the two was hot and funny; they had a connection both physically and emotionally from the beginning.  But with the curse as the background, everything has to be questioned.  There is even some danger thrown in when Amber’s past comes searching for her in Massachusetts.

There is much to like here, but there are also some pretty weird things too.  The reader has to rely on Phillips not to go too far.  While reading the story, I was both engaged and wary.  It was this wariness that keeps me from fully endorsing the book.  Even though the book doesn’t hit the jackpot, Lucky Streak is worth putting your money down. 

--Shirley Lyons


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