REVIEW: King & Queen of the Poker Game (King & Queen series Book 4) by Diane Michaels
Tess is fearless, from her fiery red hair—complete with tiara—all the way down to her rainbow-striped knee socks. She’s on the hunt for a unicorn. Who knew it would be so hard to find a man who could keep up with her, let alone pass her rigorous second date test? But when Oliver draws a royal straight, all hearts, she’s the one who’s running scared.
Oliver used to think love was the safe bet. After witnessing his parents’ marriage tumble like a house of cards, he tries to break his habit of clinging to love. But old habits die hard.
When Oliver goes all in, Tess folds. They up the ante by changing the rules only to face unforeseen challenges. Will they discover that life—and love—don’t require tests and schemes, and is this the secret to drawing the winning hand?
Place your bets on love with the King & Queen romantic comedy series.
Dear Ms. Michaels,
Tess certainly made an impression on me from the moment she appeared in all her roller derby finery. She’s fearless in flinging herself around the rink, has a dazzling sense of fashion, and a unique way of weeding out loser dates. When I saw that she would be featured in this fourth installment of the King and Queen series, I was psyched. But while I enjoyed seeing her up close and personal, I’m still not sure I’m totally wowed by her story. And why didn’t the cover feature her wild-and-crazy clothes style?
Tess says that she’s interested in meeting guys and dating but she still keeps a (she thinks) foolproof method up her sleeve to separate the wheat from the chaff. After a “normal” first date, Tess springs a totally wild experience for date number two to see if a guy might have what it takes to keep up with her. It’s also a way for her to see what being out of his comfort zone will turn him into. After meeting Oliver at a poker game where she and her bestie Amelia are subbing, Tess’s second date is to ask Oliver to a family wedding as her “plus-one.” She makes quite an impression on him.
“I did my best impersonation of a zombie who hadn’t yet figured out how to lurch and groan, let alone pass for a living person. I willed myself to say something, anything. Hopefully something clever. One minute with Tess, and I had to confront how repressed I was. I had never met anyone like her. Completely unburdened by self-consciousness, she expressed herself with a freedom I never had realized I lacked. Or craved.”
Weddings might freak most guys out but Oliver loves them. He’s been looking for his other half for years and does want a forever relationship just like his older sisters and his parents. But the evening before his wedding date with Tess, something upends his world then when he says the “G” word to Tess, she panics and pulls back.
After an amazing start and wonderful kiss, this relationship is going nowhere fast. Can Tess and Oliver figure out what they’re doing wrong to sabotage their happy-ever-afters?
I loved the way this one started out. We see Tess and Amelia again and get some fun, friendly bantering. The orthopedic surgeon might think they’re both nuts but he will have an interesting story to tell his colleagues.
“The doctor brandished the whirring saw with the purposeful confidence of a serial killer. “This may tickle a bit.”
Not the verb I’d associate with a saw-meets-leg situation. “I’m picturing blood spurting everywhere, and you think it’s going to tickle? Shouldn’t you be wearing a protective mask to prevent bone fragments from flying into your eyes?” I asked him.
“Odds are the saw won’t touch your flesh. I’ve done a couple of these before. Never drew even a drop of blood.”
Amelia’s eyes widened when she heard the word odds. I wagged my finger at her and said, “Don’t you even! I forbid you from profiting from my dismemberment.”
She crossed her arms grumpily. “You’re no fun.”
“You know I am.” Ignoring the doctor and his saw, I locked Amelia in a stare. “So, Sunday. Dealer’s choice when it comes to picking which version of poker we play?” I had to shout over the buzzing of the saw, which the doctor embedded into the cast one cut at a time along the inside of my leg.
“I see where you’re going. I won’t wager on any saw mishaps if you’ll promise to keep your shirt on during the game.”
Raising the blade, the doctor gave each of us a judgmental look. “You two aren’t normal.”
The thought of Tess starting an Instagram account for her casted leg is hilarious. If I were her, I’m not sure if I’d be happy that my leg in a cast has more followers than I do or alarmed. Oliver sounds like the IT people were I work. You hardly ever see them and when you do, they’re always rushing somewhere else at the speed of light. He’s also quick on the uptake and can keep up with Tess’s “English Literature Major” references.
Tess and Oliver manage some soul searching as they flounder through dates with other people so yeah, there is that. But for me their date choices don’t really come alive but rather come across as plot devices for the main characters to use to discover where they’ve been going wrong all these years. They do keep each other in the back of their minds as the gold standard to which they compare these other people so, when they are maneuvered back together, the resumption of their relationship is not totally from out of nowhere. But the second half of this novella didn’t match the fun of the first half. B-