Between the laughter and the hot sex, I found myself just a little lost in this fast paced fantasy story by Charley Descoteaux. The Pinch of the Game is a tricky novella with the most delightful oddball couple ever to grace the page. Jeffrey Overton is a former IT geek turned compulsive gambler. He is also a witch. After being caught stacking the deck during a card game with a very powerful witch who happens to control large portions of the city, Jeffrey is confronted with the man sent to collect him to “pay” for his cheating ways. The muscle sent is one Michael Wells who is a “daisy” from Daisyville—not a witch, but versed in magical ways and able to stave off Jeffrey’s wily charms. But not for long…
The two meet one obstacle after another, including a witch who steals Jeffrey’s body, and the mission to find Jeffrey’s lost mother is thrown in their way. But during the ride they fall hopelessly in lust with one another and maybe even more. Unfortunately, Jeffrey is not only a dangerous witch when he wants to be, but also a danger to Michael and more than one person wants to see Jeffrey punished.
I really liked these two men and the interactions and dialogue between them was clever and sharp. The author really had the bones here for an incredibly fun and irreverent story, but somewhere along the way got a wee bit lost. I never really understood what a “daisy” was exactly, for instance. And there were so many secondary characters thrown willy-nilly into this story that I truly needed a family tree of some sort to keep them all straight. Small plot points were left dangling like why Michael’s brother was a hired goon for a sworn enemy of Jeffrey’s? And why was Jeffrey’s mother kidnapped and held for more than a year before someone realized it?
I will say the strength of the pieces of this story that weren’t overshadowed by a lack of depth or explanations were so incredibly good. I just felt that we needed several more chapters to this story to establish exactly what and who everyone was and their relationship to each other. I really wanted more background story on both Jeffrey and Michael. The easy way they had with each other, the snappy dialogue, and the delightful moments of sexy intimacy all combined to make them so entertaining and intriguing. I so desperately wished the author had taken the time to flesh these characters out more and beefed up the story between them!
All in all, The Pinch of the Game by Charley Descoteaux was just a few chapters shy of a solid story that one could sink into and find all the answers desired. However that does not diminish the fact that this author has the potential to be an incredible storyteller and for that alone I will certainly be checking out more of her work.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.