The All Star Antes Up is my first book by this author and I would definitely recommend checking out other material by her. This is the story of Miranda and Luke. Miranda is a concierge at an exclusive condo building where Luke owns the penthouse unit. Luke is the mega star / billionaire quarterback of the pro New York NFL team. Both Miranda and Luke have been driven almost exclusively by their professional achievement and have not taken much time for actual romance in their lives.
When Luke's best friend decides to commit himself to his wife and family and leave professional football, it causes Luke to examine the choices he's made. During a drunken encounter with two other billionaires, Luke and the other two men decide that life is really no good if you don't have someone to share it with. Therefore, the three billionaires make a bet to basically force themselves to find love within 1 year or forfeit something extremely valuable. When Luke meets Miranda he is not actually looking to fulfill the terms of the bet yet. Luke's plan was to finish the football season he was in the middle of before he started searching for his one true love. But you know how these things work out. For Miranda's part, she is walking a professional tightrope where Luke is one of her clients and she is dealing with a boss who was out to get her. Miranda's relationship with Luke is problematic for her in more than one way. But you know how these things work out.
For those of you out there who are hard core contemporary romance fans, I think this would be a really good selection for you. There is a lot of relationship developing between the main characters. There are plenty of conversations between the two where they explore their past and their motivations and discover the things that they have in common. There is also a good deal of contextual information that will allow you to invest in the story. There is plenty of description about Miranda and Luke's working worlds as well as the dates they go on that allow them to get to know one another. The author allows you to connect to the main characters through conversations and events instead of introspection, that is something that I normally appreciate. So, no instalove here.
The issue for a reader like me will be the amount of exploration of the sort of sub topics in the book. I would have liked to see more time spent on the steam between the characters and less time on the dating and get to know you part. But I realize that I'm more of an erotic romance reader. One thing that might be confusing to anyone reading this book is the whole situation with the bet. Luke had so much at stake riding on him finding his one true love. He finds Miranda and it is apparent to all of us that she is probably the one for him but he spends almost the entire book ignoring the bet and trying to put Miranda off. From the beginning of the book he decides that his career means nothing without someone to share it with but then for the entire remainder of the book he struggles to put his career on the back burner. It was just very confusing to me. I guess you can write it off as his revelation about the importance of love and the family being isolated to that first drunken night in the book but I just had a lot of confusion about why he made the bet if he wasn't going to commit to love.
Things of course have a way of working out in the end. I think overall this is a pretty good, entertaining read. It's got some slow parts where there is probably an over abundance of dating information but the romance is really sweet, the characters are relatable and overall I would recommend this book as a contemporary romance.
**ARC provided by Publisher**