My Rating: 4/5
Author: Lauren Linwood
Title: A Game of Chance
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Lily Frontiere returns from a costly European trip to find her mother has accumulated large gambling debts. Things grow worse as her mother’s health deteriorates and she can no longer run Lucky Lil’s, the most famous whorehouse in San Francisco. Though Lilian shielded her only child from house life by sending her away to boarding school, Lily takes over and poses as Madam Lil. Her intelligence and astonishing resemblance to her mother help, but she’s entering a world she knows little about. Lily tries to extract the house from impending financial ruin until a handsome stranger turns up with the deed to Lucky Lil’s in hand.
Gambler Jed Stone journeys to California to track down Simon Morgan, the man responsible for his best friend’s death. Arrested for robbery and murder upon arrival, he is shocked to see his face on a wanted poster. Jed escapes before his hanging, unaware that the man guilty of those crimes is the twin brother he never knew existed. In a case of mistaken identity, Jed acquires Lucky Lil’s in a rigged card game his twin is meant to win.
Jed asks Madam Lil to stay on as he learns the business. Lily clashes with the new owner over ways to make the establishment profitable, yet she is attracted to the charming risk taker at the same time. Jed is fooled by Lily’s charade until he stumbles upon the real Madam Lil and learns the truth behind Lily’s deception. His admiration for Lily blossoms into love.
But Simon Morgan seeks both Lily’s hand and ownership of Lucky Lil’s—and he will go to any means to possess both. Will Jed foil his nemesis while bringing his outlaw brother to justice?
Opinions: For western historical fiction romance lovers, this is one that you might want to try. The story has an interesting concept of mistaken identities on both main characters.
First, you have Jed whose mother died while giving birth to him. His father takes his twin brother, Cal, and runs off to leave Jed’s mother for dead. However, before she died, she gives birth to another baby boy, Jed. The two have different upbringings but both tangle with gambling. What are the chances of meeting your twin many years later in the same town across the country? And one twin is wanted for major crimes?
The other identity switch is with Lily and her mother. To keep her mother’s business open, Lily dresses up and acts like her mother. Her mother, on the other hand, is very ill and unable to maintain the upkeep of the whorehouse and gaming parlor. Lily tends to like acting like her mother. It’s completely different than her own personality. Lily soon finds herself attracted to Jed, but she doesn’t know if he really loves her or her mother (through her acting.) She also is trying to stay afloat with the business and maintaining a respectable reputation as the daughter of a whorehouse owner.
If that’s not going to keep you interested, let’s add in a little past history of a baddie with all characters mentioned above, but unaware of the full connections. Stir in a millionaire that connects to them as well, but not everyone is aware of it. Finally, include a little romance and jealousy into the mix to get the full story.
The plot moves along well. There is that anticipation of when one identity would be called out and by whom. Will the law arrest the wrong man? Do the people find out about Lily impersonating her mother? Will certain people get revenge? It doesn’t necessarily pan out exactly as I thought it would, so you might have a few surprises to read about.
Narration: Multiple third person
Standalone or Part of a Series: Standalone