From the author of the “clever, creative, and sweetly delicious” (Kirkus Reviews) The Coincidence of Coconut Cake comes a novel about a frustrated wife and mother who hatches a scheme to reignite her marriage—and risks everything in a gamble she hopes is a sure bet. When Milwaukee-area wife and mother MJ Boudreaux notices her husband Chris seems more interested in the casino than her, she’s more bothered that she isn’t upset than by her husband’s absence. She picks up poker as a way for them to spend more time together—and reignite their marital flame. Although the game doesn’t give her the quality time with Chris that she’d hoped, MJ finds she has a knack for it. Increasingly unhappy at home, she turns to the felt top of the poker table for comfort. Intoxicated with newfound freedom, MJ begins spending more time at the gambling tables and less with her family, finally carving out for herself a place outside her role of wife and mother. After a string of great wins, MJ finds herself in Vegas, attracting the attention of a certain magnetic poker star. But when she’s forced to choose between her family and her new exciting lifestyle, the stakes may be higher than she thought and MJ will have to play her hand carefully…or risk losing it all.
Published July 12th 2016 by Blackstone Audio
Three stars: A book that explores that struggles of a long time marriage.
MJ is a little irritated when Chris fails to show up to the special lunch she arranged for their twentieth wedding anniversary. She ends up drinking too much and consuming a whole lemon pie by herself. She still loves her husband, right? MJ decides that she wants to find a way to rekindle her marriage. She suggests a casino outing to play poker with Chris. What she doesn’t expect it is to find herself quickly immersed into the poker world. Soon MJ is neglecting her responsibilities and family to play poker. MJ wants to win a poker tournament so she can take Chris to Vegas, but her plan backfires when her family starts to fall apart in her absence. Can MJ save her marriage with a little love and luck?
What I Liked:
- I was excited to read this book after enjoying Reichert’s debut novel: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. This book is a little different, though it lacked the feel good warmth that I craved, I did like that it realistically explored the struggle of a long time marriage.
- This book is all about a long term marriage going through a low spot. MJ and Chris are still in love, but they somehow have lost the spark. They find themselves going through the motions, with little time to connect. MJ wants to fix it, but she doesn’t exactly go about it the right way. I liked that the author kept it real, as she exposed the problems that couples go through as they continue to make a marriage work. I may not have liked MJ’s decisions, but I understood her.
- I was surprised to find that I was fascinated by all the poker talk. I have played poker, so I know a little about it, but this book takes it to a whole new level. I liked the mind games, and the tells. MJ becomes a master at reading people, and I thought this part of the book was entertaining and interesting.
- I enjoyed many of the secondary characters from MJ’s mother, to her two best friends. I was most surprised to find that I ended up liking Doyle, the world famous poker player. I thought for sure he was going to be a jerk, but he wasn’t. I liked being surprised.
- I didn’t like the way MJ handled the situation with Tammy until the end. Thank goodness that she figured it out and got it right.
- After plenty of bumps in the road, the book ends in a good place. I was encouraged by the ending.
- The book ends with a delicious lemon pie recipe that I am dying to try. Yum!
- I listened to the audio version narrated by Susan Ericksen. Ms. Ericksen is a veteran narrator and I always enjoy her work. I thought she did a great job capturing the characters. He male voices were well done!
And The Not So Much:
- I am not going to lie, MJ is a complex character, which makes her hard to like sometimes. I appreciated that the author gave plenty of information from the past and present so the reader could understand her, but she is tough to like a lot of the time. I didn’t like her immaturity when Tammy came to town, she immediately jumped to conclusions. I also didn’t like the way she abandoned her family all the time to play poker, but again, I understood why. She may have gone about fixing her marriage in a not so smart way, but she eventually gets it right, so I liked her in the end.
- I felt no connection to Chris. I wish that there was more detail and development of his character. What was he thinking?
- The whole mean girl theme with Tammy got annoying, especially when MJ continues it at fifty years old. I had to resist from rolling my eyes at those scenes.
- This one lacked the warmth and light heartedness that I was craving. It wasn’t exactly a feel good read, in fact, sometimes it is down right depressing. Yes, it finally turns around at the end, but it wasn’t enough to save the read for me. I went into this one looking for a pick me up, feel good read, and it definitely wasn’t that.
- The author incorporates flashback scenes to help the reader understand MJ and her relationship with Chris. I don’t know if it was because I listened to the audio or not, but I found some of the flashbacks confusing, I wasn’t sure if I was in the past or present sometimes. They were not incorporated well.
Luck, Love and Lemon Pie was a book I picked up hoping for a happy, feel good read. Unfortunately this book wasn’t what I was expecting. Instead I got a realistic view of a long time marriage working through a stumbling block. Even though it lacked the warmth I wanted, I did enjoy seeing the characters work through the rough spots, and I enjoyed all the poker talk. Even though this was a bit of a let down, it still ended up being a good read.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.
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