Cary Talbot has found the perfect mark. Marigold Shelley is filthy rich, and her newly found grandson, Isaac Shelley, is poised to inherit her huge estate, complete with a priceless wine collection. Cary concocts a plan to con both of them into selling the crown jewel of that collection to him at a bargain price. Since Isaac is young, single, and gay, part of Cary’s scheme to get close to the Shelleys includes seduction.
But Isaac isn’t the sheep he appears to be. He isn't even the grandson he appears to be. Isaac is, in fact, running quite the con of his own.
These two masters of the confidence game are pitted against each other, and both are after the ultimate prize—a chunk of the huge Shelley fortune. It’s only when a third cunning player comes in and is ready to outwit them both that they must band together and beat their opponent or see all they’ve worked for slip from their grasp one ruby-red drop at a time.
HE LOOKED at the only person he’d ever trusted, the only one who’d been there for him, who’d taught him how to do more than merely survive, helped him become something other than a dirty street kid with no home and no future. Roman. His friend. His mentor. His only family.
Roman was leaving.
“You’re gonna be fine, kid. I promise. I’ve got ya set up for life if you pull off this one last job.”
That didn’t help. At all. Thick and suffocating panic rushed him hard at the thought of being alone. Truly and forever alone. He thought he might pass out. He couldn’t do it by himself. He’d never even tried. Roman had been there since the beginning, since he’d pulled him, dirty and skinny and always half a step away from jail or death, off the streets back when he was a kid. He needed Roman. He was nothing without him.
“I don’t want to do this alone. Let me come with you.”
His mentor shook his head. “That’s not your road, kid. If you pull this off, you won’t have to hide. You’ll have whatever you want. More money than you know what to do with.”
“But you’re my family.” He sounded like a baby, he knew he did, but the thought of being alone again after years of having someone who cared was daunting at best, terrifying at worst. He’d never done well trying to survive on his own. “I want to come with you. We can come back when the heat is off.”
“They’ve got too much on me, kid. I won’t be coming back.”
He sighed. There was no arguing with Roman. They were both stubborn, but they also knew who’d win in the end. “What do I need to do?”
A newspaper landed on the table, loud in the silence of their shared loft, creased and yellowed, with a date ten years old. There was a boy splashed on the front page: thirteen, maybe fifteen tops, with huge blue eyes, inky black waves of hair, pale skin, expensive clothes, happy grin.
“Who is that? He looks like… me. Exactly like me.” It was hard not to touch, to reach out and test the curve of familiar eyes, perfectly positioned dimples, even the right tilt to his smile. He barely remembered his face at that age. Mostly it had been covered with a thick layer of dirt and grime. He didn’t remember much of anything before it, nothing, really, just flashes of the street and fear and cold. He stared for a long time.
“He’s been missing since three days before this newspaper came out.”
“Wait. Do you think this boy is me?”
“I think this kid was an only child with a huge trust fund, a loving step-grandmother who’d do anything to have her baby back, and no living biological family. Other than that….” Roman shrugged. “You do the math. You don’t remember your childhood before your teens, this boy disappeared when he was a teen from the scene of a car crash that killed his parents. You look like twins. Kid, you couldn’t ask for a better setup.”
“What are you trying to say?” He was usually so quick to pick up the plan, but the boy’s familiar smiling face had jarred him.
“I’m saying this is yours. This is your future. All you have to do is walk in there and convince them you’re the missing Isaac Shelley, and then you are.”
He couldn’t believe what Roman was proposing. “So I’m Anastasia. Is that what you’re saying? I’m the lost heir. It’s the oldest con in the book. They’d have to be stupid to believe me. Nobody’s going to buy that.”
“Nobody has to except for Marigold Shelley. It might be the oldest con in the book but how many people out there have your face? If the grandmother signs over Isaac Shelley’s trust account, that’s all you need. You can do this.”
“So this is about getting some dead kid’s trust fund? That’ll make up for the fact that the only family I have is walking out the door?”
Roman clapped him gently on the shoulder. “My son, you need to decide what you want out of it in the end. I’m just handing you the vehicle. It’s up to you to drive it.”
“You’re really not going to come back ever?” Just saying the words hurt. One jagged stab wound at a time. He felt like a child, crying when his parent left for the night. But it wasn’t one night, and even if he was twenty-four years old, he wanted to cry. The thought of years gaping black and empty, alone, made his heart race and his palms sweat.
Roman shook his head. “I can’t, son. I’ve been burned. Too many agents with too many very official letters on their badges are after me. My aliases are toast. As soon as they find my accounts, they’ll freeze them. I need to get out of the country.”
Too many agents after him… burned aliases. A wanted man. It couldn’t be.
“You aren’t—” He couldn’t finish the sentence. He almost didn’t want to know.
“The Black Mamba?” Roman chuckled. “I’m surprised it took you this long to ask. I’m not. I met her once on a job, then ran into her a few months back in Miami when you were pulling that job in Denver. Turns out she doesn’t like to be crossed.”
“Wait. The Black Mamba is a woman?”
“She’s exactly what her name says she is. A snake.”
“And she screwed you over.”
“She didn’t want me messing with another one of her precious prizes.” Roman shrugged, curiously unfazed, like it was all part of the game. Perhaps it was.
“Where is she now?”
“I don’t know. Hopefully far away from me. Don’t go looking for something you don’t want to find, son.”
There was something off about Roman’s voice. He didn’t think anyone else would pick it up, but he knew his mentor well. He nodded. It was really over. Roman was leaving. “How do I stay in touch with you?”
Roman was by the door, bag slung over his shoulder. “You don’t, kid. Good luck.”
And then the door closed and Roman was gone.
Two months later….
SONOMA COUNTY was pretty, in a bucolic, hazy sort of way, rolling green hills covered with neat rows of grape vines and grass so gold and waving, Van Gogh would’ve been envious of its color. Yeah, the place was beautiful. If you liked that kind of thing. Cary Talbot didn’t. He figured if he were anyone else, he’d find himself charmed by the roll of the hills and the dusty golden glow. But he wasn’t charmed. He was lost. Totally, completely, fuck-if-he-had-a-clue lost. He’d been winding around picturesque country roads for hours, his GPS was having some sort of meltdown, and he was on the verge of pulling to the side of the road and throwing the damn thing as far as he could. Because, you know. That would help.
He took another turn that the angry lady in the computer told him to take, which landed him in some sort of roundabout that led absofuckinglutely nowhere.
“Screw you!” He slammed his hand on the steering wheel. “Ow, fuck.” He was lost, and his hand hurt like hell.
“Turn left in thirty feet. Turn left…. Turn left.” The voice got more insistent, but it didn’t change the facts.
“There is no damn left turn here!”
“Recalculating….” Of course that’s when the car’s Bluetooth picked up his phone. He should’ve turned the damn thing off. Cary glanced at the readout on the rental car’s screen. Jules. Who else would it be? Fuck.
“What?” he barked.
“Jesus, boss. Have a Xanax or ten. Just letting you know the room’s all rented out and taken care of. I’m getting my equipment set up now. You should be good to go in a day or two.”
“Can you tell me how the fuck to get out of here while you’re at it?”
He was met with silence. Cary wasn’t surprised. He didn’t do yelling. Not at Jules, not at anyone. He did charm. Charisma. Confidence enough to sell the hardest mark whatever lies and half-truths he happened to be peddling. Pissiness wasn’t on Cary Talbot’s résumé. He pulled over and took a deep breath. Then he took great pleasure in yanking his damn GPS cord out of the dash. He hated that thing.
“Powering off in ten seconds,” the voice intoned.
Cary wanted to growl. Instead he took another long, slow, calming goddammit breath. “Sorry, J. Long day. I hate California,” he grumbled.
“It’s okay, boss. You hate everything. How on earth are you lost? The town is right off of highway twelve.”
“I have no idea. I think this damn machine decided I was in Australia or something. Can you please just run a search on my tracker and tell me where the hell I am and how to get out?”
“Good thing we’re paranoid.” Jules laughed softly. “Give me a few minutes to get up and running, and I’ll be able to tell exactly where you are. Get out of the car and do a sun salutation or something. You need to chill before you have a stroke.”
Cary chuckled. “I’m not doing yoga on the side of the road under a bunch of goddamn grape leaves.”
Jules made a derisive noise but didn’t reply. Cary did prop the door of his rental car open, but all that got him was an overwhelming wave of dusty, late-summer heat that nearly made him choke. He took a long drink from his water bottle and chucked a few pistachios into his mouth. Chewing helped him calm down when he let himself get way too wound up. Some days he wished he’d never quit smoking.
“Where are we at with those directions, Jules?”
“Just… a… minute. There you are. Okay. So I’m going to need you to make a left.”
“Jesus Christ, there is no fucking left.”
Cary could tell Jules was holding back a laugh. “Okay, okay. Why don’t we turn around? I’m going to try another way to get you back to highway twelve. I don’t want you to end up crashed into the bottom of some wine vat.”
Cary rolled his eyes and stuck his key into the ignition. “I don’t even like wine but that’s sounding better and better by the minute.”
“I have no idea how you managed before you met me.”
Jules’s laugh came loud and clear through the car’s speaker. “Anything.”
By the time Cary reached their hotel—modest, nondescript and right off of the highway—he was hot and tired and beyond ready to have a big drink of anything strong, and pass out. That probably wasn’t going to be his luck. Jules usually had about seven million details to work out with him when he least felt like talking. Plus he was hungry, and he wouldn’t say no to some snacks.
Cary started to mentally prepare himself. He had a lot of work ahead of him, hopefully easy work, but work all the same. If he managed to pull it off, the payoff would be fantastic.
“What room are we in?” he asked Jules quietly. “Eleven fifteen. I’ll prop the door open for you with the bolt.” “Thanks. I’m on my way up.”
Cary bypassed the front desk. He wasn’t in the mood to put on a show, to charm the hotel staff into liking him but forgetting him the minute he was gone. He’d rather be completely invisible. Luckily he didn’t need a card to make the elevator rise to his floor. There were ways around that. He knew ways around pretty much everything, but after the day he’d had, he really didn’t feel like fucking around with gadgets.
True to form, Jules looked like she was about to stage a military coup right from the comfort of their hotel suite. Cary bitched and teased her about all her techy crap, but he didn’t know how the hell he’d operated without her for as long as he had. She’d set up her computers and her phone station in the corner of the room, and had gotten comfortable in a pair of sweats, flip-flops, and a T-shirt. She’d tied her riot of inky black curls into a knot on the top of her head and was busily painting her toenails a bright pink. She glanced up when the door clicked shut.
“Hey, boss. You look like hell.” Tactful as usual. Jules was brilliant at what she did, but smooth-talking was never going to be her strong suit. Good thing they had him for that.
“Thanks a million, Delgadillo. How are we looking?”
Jules chuckled at him. Typical. “I just got the system all set up. Give me a minute to breathe. You need a drink.”
“And a nap. I think I have sun poisoning.”
She smirked. “Hopefully it’ll be raining when we get home.”
Cary thought of his big, drafty loft in Portland, and smiled. He wasn’t sure if you could call a place home if you were gone more than you were there, but there was something about the old building’s weathered bricks, soaring metal-beamed ceilings, and scarred wood floors that felt like a refuge.
Jules went to the counter and opened a new bottle of scotch and pulled a fresh liter of soda out of the mini-fridge. She mixed Cary a drink without comment and handed it to him. He took a swallow and sank down onto the room’s armchair gratefully.
“Thank you so much. This is literally going to save my life.”
“That’s why you pay me the big bucks.” Jules rolled her eyes a little and gave Cary a fond smile. “You know. Bring you drinks and stuff. Answer the phone.”
It was a running joke between them. That had nothing to do with why Cary had hired her. Jules was special. She’d been a sophomore at OSU and had a very promising future at some prestigious grad schools when she’d been caught doing a few very naughty things with her computer in the dorms. Like looking-for-backdoors-into-the-NSA’s-internal-system kind of naughty. Cary would’ve thought that was impossible to do from a remote location. Apparently Jules had found a way to make it possible enough that some friendly government agents paid a visit to her dorm room the next day. Luckily she’d been out and saw them from down the hall. Jules had taken off, and Cary found her shivering and scared in a coffee shop, no family, no more scholarship, and newly homeless. He’d offered her a job, and she’d been with him ever since. She was like a kid sister, if by kid sister he meant an outrageous brat with an IQ of 180, limited social skills, and technology chops that made his head spin.
“So are we going to talk about the job?”
Cary sighed. “Now? Does it have to be now?” What was that he’d been thinking about her being a brat?
“Now would be good. Unless you’d like a nice stay off highway twelve for nothing. We need to get this job set up or we’re wasting our time.”
“Someday you’re gonna kill me.”
Jules snorted. No respect.
“So the plan is twofold, correct? Well, three actually. Get the mark to believe you work for the insurance company, but you’re a little dirty. Introduce the idea that the Nine Sisters is just a myth. Falsify the tests to prove they’re fakes. Oh, and then of course get them to sell the bottles to you at a low price to get them off their hands so they don’t get charged with insurance fraud.”
“That sounds about right.”
It was a complicated game, and it relied on Jules’s technical skills as much as his talking, but Cary thought they might be able to pull it off. He could barely fathom the payoff if they were successful. The Nine Sisters. Even one would be an incredible get. Nine of the world’s most sought-after bottles of wine all in the same collection? Nearly priceless. Marigold Shelley was supposed to have them. Cary was banking on the fact that the rumors and Jules’s techno sleuthing were, in fact, correct.
The story of the Nine Sisters was legend. It started back when George Washington had first taken office. He’d been a well-known fan of Portuguese Madeira wines. So much so that Pedro and Maria, king and queen of Portugal, had sent him a case of ten bottles of their private reserve Madeira. One had disappeared into time. Maybe it had been drunk by Washington himself, maybe broken or sold—that part of the story was never told. But the others had formed a collection. Priceless. Famed. Nearly mythical.
The bottles still had their royal seal from the Portuguese court on them, and the stamp showing they’d belonged to Washington’s private collection. How a single vineyard owner got their hands on all nine of them was beyond Cary’s imagination. Their worth was staggering. He had his work cut out for him if he wanted them to be his.
“I still don’t like this, boss.” Jules had never been one to hold back her opinion. She’d been making her opinion on the sisters known ever since Cary decided to go for it. “It’s not fair.”
“Jules. Marigold Shelley is reported to have one of the best private collections in the entire country. The Nine Sisters is the crown of that collection, but she has others. You know how I operate.”
Cary might have been a con artist, but he had morals. He never took from people who couldn’t afford to lose, and he never took everything. Not even close.
“But you’re using the fact that she’s distracted by her grandson to get to her.”
“Of course I am. It’s the perfect time. She’s in love with the romance of getting her family back. She’s not going to want to take time out of whatever years she has left to deal with me.”
“And the kid? Hasn’t he gone through enough after all these years?”
Cary shrugged. “He’s twenty-four. That’s not a kid. Plus, this isn’t gonna hurt him. He doesn’t even have to get involved.”
He knew Jules had her reasons for wanting to protect Isaac, and they had a lot to do with her past. Cary didn’t feel like playing cheap hotel room shrink.
“I’ve made you a cheat sheet.” Jules handed it to him reluctantly. “I still don’t like this, though.”
“No kidding.” She’d made her stance on the newest mark quite clear before she’d left Oregon a day and a half before Cary. “Do you want to go back to Portland and leave this to me?”
“No. You’ll get arrested, and then what would I do? I’d be bored.”
Cary sighed. “Contrary to your very strong beliefs, I did survive for thirty years before I found you at that coffee shop. Successfully.”
Jules rolled her eyes. “How you managed that is a mystery I’m still trying to solve.”
HE WOKE with the sun, like he had for nearly three months. His head spun every time he thought of where he was and what he was doing.
You’ve got this… Isaac. Your name is Isaac now.
Isaac. Every day he still had to remind himself of that. He was Isaac Shelley. Heir. Grandson of Marigold Shelley. Screwed to hell if he was ever made. So yes. Isaac Shelley.
Isaac got out of the huge bed in his room. He still couldn’t believe it was his bedroom, his house, his life for a while longer. Hopefully, at least. Nothing had been signed yet.
He looked out the window at acres and acres of vines and hills and beautiful sun-kissed earth, and stretched, letting the warmth hit his skin. It was probably going to be another hot day. Only a few weeks until the harvest, according to the prickly vineyard manager, Kitty, whom he’d been trying to win over. He wondered if he’d still be around to see it or if he’d be long gone by then.
He showered quickly, dragged on a pair of perfectly tailored jeans, a polo, and casual but expensive shoes courtesy of Marigold, and left the house for his customary walk before the family and house staff met for breakfast.
Falling River Winery—the land, the house that had been nicknamed Torremolinos, and the outbuildings—had been in Sonoma since the thirties. Way before his time, obviously. Even before his newly inherited step-grandma’s time. Isaac’s research told him she’d married into the family when Isaac’s father was a baby. The first Mrs. Howard Shelley had died giving birth to Isaac’s father, and Isaac’s mother never had a family that she knew. Sad, but convenient for him. No biological relatives meant no DNA testing. Made what could’ve been a nearly impossible job much easier, relying on his skill instead of science. Isaac had been working at a little cafe on the main drag of Sonoma for a couple of weeks. It had taken some careful research and arranging a convenient job opening—he felt a little bad about making sure the last waiter lost his job so he could charm his way in, but he’d needed to be in the right place at the right time. Having Marigold find him was key. It would ring alarm bells if he went searching for her. He’d been polite to the customers in his short stay at the cafe, and good at his job, made sure the owner wouldn’t feel hesitant to hand him one of their best patrons. After that, it was just a waiting game.
The afternoon Marigold finally showed up had been slow. Isaac was about ready to pack it in when she walked in the door with another woman. They were seated in his section, which he wished he could take credit for, but really it was just luck working to his benefit. It only took one look at his face and she looked about to faint.
“Isaac?” Marigold whispered. Her face was ashen, her eyes wide like she’d seen a ghost. Isaac had to hold his grin inside. Looked like he was barely going to have to work at all.
“H-hi,” he stuttered out. “Do I know you?” He was proud of how taken aback he could make himself look.
“You probably don’t remember me, but I know you. You’re my grandson.” Marigold reached up to touch his face. The poor woman still looked like she was about to keel over. Isaac almost felt bad. Then he remembered he needed that trust fund and Marigold wasn’t ever going to touch it.
“I don’t have any family. Are you sure?”
“I’m positive. I’d know you anywhere.”
He tilted his face up into the early morning sun. He was still pale, he always would be, but he’d gotten a dusting of freckles across his nose since he’d been working in the vineyard with the head farmer, Mike. The thought of one family owning so much helped him when he realized how much he liked Marigold and felt guilty lifting little Isaac’s trust fund from her. She’d never miss that money. She hadn’t looked at it in years. Isaac, on the other hand, had many uses for it. It was great how things worked that way.
After his walk, Isaac wandered into the kitchen off the main house. Gretchen, the cook, was putting out breakfast. It was usually delicious: eggs and some sort of toast, fruit, bacon or sausage, maybe even pancakes or crepes. Gretchen fed most of the main vineyard staff: Kitty, the manager; her assistant, Jose; Mike, the farm manager; and Tilly, who ran the equipment. Marigold sat at the head of the huge oak kitchen table like the benevolent matriarch that she was. Isaac still didn’t feel like he belonged, after weeks of breakfasts with them, lunches, dinners, nights sitting with Marigold, the two of them just talking for hours. He still felt like he should hover.
“Isaac, darling. Come in. Gretchen made your favorite blueberry waffles.”
Isaac smiled and walked toward the chair Marigold patted. There wasn’t any hesitation in her smile. None at all. The employees greeted him with varying degrees of welcome. Gretchen, who’d been at the farm when the real Isaac was a boy, seemed just as eager as Marigold to bring him into the fold. Mike seemed to like him, and Tilly was indifferent as long as he stayed away from her machinery in the rooms where they pressed and stored the wines. Kitty, the manager? Well, that was different.
“Morning, everyone,” Isaac said quietly. He slipped into his seat and reached for the jug of apple juice. He helped himself to a waffle from the plate Gretchen pushed across the table, as well as eggs and a few turkey sausages. He planned to follow Mike around the vineyard again. With his quick brain and the way Roman had trained him to learn details, he’d thought it would be easier to pick up the things he needed to know about the grapes and the wines they produced, but it hadn’t been. At least the job didn’t require him to know anything. Looking like a bumbling moron when it came to wine was probably best. It wasn’t as if he needed to know anything about it long term.
“Hey, kiddo. Ready to learn some more about grapes?” Mike was big and burly, with graying hair, kind, pale blue eyes, and a thing for fancy beers. Even though Mike was years younger, something about him reminded Isaac of Roman. He’d liked Mike immediately. He was actually excited for another day on the vineyard with Mike. It felt… right, somehow. Like he was doing something real with his life rather than talking people out of their money.
Stop it. Isaac had been victim to about five million bouts of conscience since he’d gotten to Falling River.
“Of course. You coming along today, Marigold?” She gave him a look. “Sorry, Grandmother.” It was hard to get used to calling her that, but she’d insisted.
“No, darling. I’ve made plans with a friend in town. Coffee and some shopping. I thought I’d take you to that gallery later this afternoon, though.”
They’d been talking about a local gallery for a few weeks. Isaac loved art. His few memories of the dark times on the streets often had to do with hours and hours of staring into brightly lit art galleries, in awe of the colors and textures.
“I’d love that.” Isaac shared a smile with Marigold. He couldn’t believe how quickly she’d made him part of her life. It had taken one phone call and one astoundingly short cup of coffee before she’d started talking about him moving into the estate and calling Falling River his home. It had made his head spin. Of course, not everyone had been as trusting as Marigold, and no papers had been signed, but still. She treated him like he was one of her own.
Isaac finished his breakfast quickly when he saw Mike looking at him expectantly.
“Are you done?” Mike asked, which was his way of saying “if you’re not done, grab a paper towel and put whatever you can carry on it because we’re leaving.”
“Yeah. I’m done. Thanks, Gretchen. That was delicious.”
Gretchen nodded gruffly and grumbled about him being too skinny, like she had since the day he’d walked in the front door. Isaac smiled at the ground. With some of them, it was almost like he didn’t have to work at all. They just… assumed he was for real.
“Please stay out of my office, Mike,” Kitty said. “If you need anything, text or call.” She smoothed her dark hair into a bun and smiled at Mike. Isaac didn’t like her smile. It was a little cold. Mike didn’t seem to have his problem with it.
“Sure thing, sweetheart. I don’t want to ruffle all your papers.”
Kitty smiled again. Isaac got the distinct impression she didn’t like Mike any more than she liked him. She was his main problem. If she talked to Marigold and convinced her Isaac wasn’t who he said he was, he was out on his ass. And Marigold trusted Kitty. He’d seen that already. He had to get to her. That was the answer.
“See you this afternoon, darling.” Marigold waved as they walked out the door.
“You know,” Mike said as he and Isaac were on the way to the truck he used to get along the vineyard’s dusty roads, “I haven’t said it, but I’m grateful for the fact that Marigold’s found you. She lights up every time you walk into the room. I never saw her face look like that, and I’ve been here for over ten years.”
“I’m glad I found her too,” Isaac said. He felt a little twinge of guilt but pushed it aside.
It wasn’t his problem.
Above all other things, Corkscrewed is fun. It’s exciting and full of ups and downs.
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I love books by this author and this one certainly did not disappoint.
So many twists and turns, I wasn't sure who was who until it reached the end.
I hope to read more like this.
This book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
Cary Talbot is a con artist who found the perfect mark in Marigold Shelley who is filthy rich and just getting to know her long lost grandson again and therefore is an easy mark for Cary or is she?
Isaac is the long lost and newly found grandson of Marigold Shelley or is he?
I liked it that the story is told from both Isaac and Cary's point of view that gives more development to the story and because of this we get to know the main characters better altough i would have liked some more info on Cary for example why did he went in to this business?
The myserie/crime theme was very well done maybe some of the twists were a bit predictable but others weren't this book got me hooked from the beginning until the end. I read this book in one setting because i really wanted to know the answers to some of the questions and for me that is a sign that i really like the book.
There is only one complaint from me and that is that i would have loved an epilogue to see were the boys are some years from now other than that this book is a solid 4 stars for me.
Overall a very good read and i defenitely recommend this one.
I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Ms. O'Shea for offering up your story.
This book describes the encounter between two "charming cons", Cary and Isaac, very nice and lovable characters, who are both interested in a same deal but with a few different objectives and acting. We cannot totally blame them: one did it by necessity in seizing an opportunity that is offered to him, as the other, even without the same need, has certain "values": not rob the poorest, as the said. They sure don't look like "chorus boys" but we can appreciate them.
I liked the unusual situation (Sting in the heart of the vineyards), the way in which the relationship between the two characters settled gradually, all gently at first then strengthen. A few secondary characters (Marigold, Jules) are also interesting. The author seems have documented on the subject about wines. It is well written, clear, fluid and pleasant to read.
On the other hand, I had some difficulty to admit that a 14-years-old boy has forgot almost whole of his childhood, didn’t know even no more his name or who were his parents. At the end of the story we got some more explanation about the events relating to this period of Isaac’s life.
And about the mystery, at some point of the story and with some thought, we can easily identify who is actually Black Mamba.
In conclusion, a good book, with a nice story between two friendly "bad boys" that I have really enjoyed.
*** Review copy courtesy of author in exchange for an honest review. ***
This book had all the ingredients for an excellent story, and they were used right.
Two con men choose the same mark but they both are after different things. In the end, they're the ones fooled. I had a niggling sensation at the back of my mind a few times, but around 4/5 of the book I really began to suspect who's who, and just who is conning whom. Turned out I was correct - point for me.
I thought the con man aspect of the story was brilliant. It wasn't heavy and laced with suspense, instead a lot of it was filled with humor. The dedication each man showed for their respective job came off clear, as well as Isaac's mixed feelings about pulling his con off because he's become emotionally involved.
For me, the romance between Isaac and Cary was a hot fudge sundae with a cherry on top. They both knew they needed to concentrate on what they were doing, not each other, but they were unable to stay apart. Sometimes I just don't feel it when an author attempts to write about the draw between two characters that makes it impossible for them to not gravitate toward each other. In this book? Hell yeah, I felt it. Isaac and Cary were adorable together. The sex scenes were fantastic.
My only complaint, if you can call it that, was the end. After everything was revealed and decisions were made, Cary and Isaac didn't discuss them on the pages. They both discussed them with other people - well, actually, Cary really didn't - but there wasn't a clear sense of them being even more tightly joined. And I kind of wanted that. So, the ending left me wanting.
In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Great plot, more or less of more or less eccentric characters, hot sex, and a good amount of humor. And it left me smiling.
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