Book Review: Bluff by Julie Dill

31748403Title: Bluff
Author: Julie Dill
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Pub Date: (Expected) February 7, 2017
Format: Kindle eBook
Pages: 250
Source: NetGalley
Genre(s): Teens, YA
Rating: ★★★★
Goodreads || Pre-order on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen year-old Chelsea Knowles is your average teenager. But she’s harboring a secret that very few people know: she and her dad can’t pay the bills. Broken by his wife leaving, Chelsea’s father ignores his parenting responsibilities. Between cheer costs, grocery bills, electricity, and other financial burdens, Chelsea knows it’ll be up to her to keep the lights on. She manages to sneak into a casino, and her first big poker win sparks the beginning of a downward spiral. Money stops being a problem, but a complicated web of lies begins to spin out of control, threatening to reveal her bluff.

My review:

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way alters my opinion of the work.

“My first thought is that I hope they will let me keep my winnings to use for bail money. My dad cannot afford to bail me out of jail.”

I  wanted to get my hands (or eyes, I should say) on this book as soon as I read the synopsis, and let’s just say that it was everything that I thought it would be. For once, I mean that as a good thing. My expectations were met and then some.

Addiction, but more specifically gambling, is nothing new to me. I’ve only had the experience of seeing both a parent and sibling fall down that dark hole, but this was something else. It was very surprising to read about a gambling addiction evolving in an adolescent, much less an adolescent girl. Personal experience tells me that this compulsive behaviour would have been more typical/expected of the Deadbeat Dad character but that was not the case here. Major points for originality.

The writing was succinct and easy to follow. I finished this in one sitting because I kept turning the page waiting for the downfall (read: the point where our heroine hits rock bottom). But she just kept digging herself deeper and deeper into her lies. It was fascinating to see all of the bad choices she made and lies she told slowly stacking up like chips on a poker table. It was only a matter of time before she lost everything. On a side note, I feel like the author did a great job in showing the euphoric state that transpires from feeding an addiction. I would have liked to read more about the lows though. The crash. The burn. The complete destruction.

Now let’s talk about the love interest. A couple chapters in and we are introduced to a character that is described like this: “Cute guy . . . in a Sopranos kind of way.” Just my type. Doubtless I’d love any book that has a character affectionately known as “Cute Mafia Guy”, even if no one actually calls him that to his face. At this point, I was already putty in the author’s hands. Is Cute Mafia Guy actually a Mafia guy? How far will Chelsea go? Is he ever going to find out who she really is?

What’s great is that even though the romance is cute, I would have still enjoyed this book even if it was only about Chelsea’s gambling (and that’s saying something).

I honestly thought that everything was going to wrap up perfectly until that darned last page. It was so unexpected. Or was it? Any semblance of closure I could have had was gone and now I’m going to be strung out until a sequel is released.

From my experience, all I can say is: Once an addict, always an addict. I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’m nauseous just thinking about it.

Also, I really need a Miss Stella in my life. Like now.

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