Review of Beginner’s Bet by Fiona Riley
Since the start of this book series, I’ve been eager to read Ellison’s story who was always my favourite. She’s such an enigmatic character that I was looking forward to seeing her walls go down and let someone in her life.
Ellison Gamble is the owner of the most successful luxury real estate firm in Boston but despite all her money and success, she feels alone. Katie Crawford needs to sell her family’s dilapidated house to pay the increasing costs for her mother’s health care. When both women meet, an unlikely friendship starts and Ellison offers to help Katie sell her house but as an attraction grows, will they be willing to risk it all?
This is book 3 and last in the High Stakes series which started with Bet Against Me, followed by Bet the Farm. Even though this is a standalone novel, I recommend starting in book one as you’ll get a better idea of each character’s story and personality.
As I said before, Ellison is an intriguing character throughout the series and finally, the reader gets to know why. I’ll try to keep it vague to avoid spoilers but let me just say that apart from the romance, this book tells Ellison’s journey to motherhood. Ms. Riley tells in the acknowledgments how challenging was to write this story as Ellison’s desire to have a family overlapped with her own. As you can imagine, the character’s journey is emotional and taxing but brings new light to Ellison as a woman beyond her kickass business prowess. This book makes her more exposed, more vulnerable, more human. And it suits her completely.
This is an age gap, opposite attracts, coming out romance with a lot of heated moments, as it’s expected from Ms. Riley, aka “The Queen of Steam”. Apart from a considerable age difference, contrasting financial situations, sexual orientations at odds (Katie is allegedly straight), and disparate personalities, each character is in a completely different place in their lives with respect to relationships and family. I thought this was a smart plot choice as it sounded authentic and a potential source of conflict, as it would be in real life. Both leads embark on a journey of transformation in which they will be changed forever.
Beginner’s Bet is by far my favourite in this series, but the three books are equally worth a read. 4.5 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.