Life takes an unexpected turn for the card sharks of Maverick's latest romantic comedy when they take up poker as a way to meet men. Marianne is stuck in a rut with her on-again boyfriend/sex buddy Donnie and her climb up the corporate ladder at an accounting firm. Her best friend, husband-with-platinum-card-hunting Bijoux, is panicking as the date on which her wealthy parents cut her off approaches. Neither knows the first thing about poker, but when Bijoux learns of its popularity among certain kinds of men, joining a game seems like a risk-free proposition.

Marianne finds that her number-crunching mind makes her a whiz at the game. She's soon playing online during work and taking off with now-broke Bijoux for the World Series of Poker in Vegas, where competition, drinking, lust and romantic confusion bedevil both women.

Maverick has a sharp and witty writing style, a clever premise and wonderful protagonists, whose friendship isn't the cutesy-perfect kind of so many contemporary novels. Unfortunately, her plot is not on par with the rest of the book. The tension slackens periodically and several scenes feel repetitive and/or unnecessary. Overall, though, this book is worth taking a chance on. (Dec., 272 pp., $12.95)
Reviewed by: 
Caroline McAddams