Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The All-Star Antes Up -- Nancy Herkness A Review

**BOOK 2**
Nancy Herkness
“No strings, no rings.” That’s Luke Archer’s motto. As the champion quarterback for the New York Empire—not to mention a self-made billionaire—Luke has given up on serious relationships. Women only want him for one thing: the thrill of being with a superstar. And he can’t risk love distracting him from his next Super Bowl victory. But when his best friend announces he’s retiring from football to spend time with his wife and kids, Luke feels like he’s missing out on something much bigger than his career.
The assistant concierge in Luke’s luxury high-rise, Miranda Tate fled her family’s dairy farm to come to the bright lights of New York City. She works hard to move up and sends her spare earnings home to her brother. When she and Luke meet, there’s an instant attraction, but they’re in completely different leagues. Could Miranda be just the woman Luke needs to win the most important game of his life?

This, the All Star Antes Up, is the second installment in Nancy Herkness’ Wager of Hearts Series.  Her first work was a delightful surprise at my first read of one of her works.  After reading The CEO Buys In, I decided that it was a must that I follow this series through and see how all three wagers ended.  The second installment has not been a disappointment.  In fact, it has proven to be even meatier and have more depth to it than her first offering, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Unlike so many other romances where boy meets girl and “bang”, hearts and sparks happen, and the story follows an expected course; Nancy’s heroines are independent women who are not easily swayed by glitter and glam.  They are women who have a focus and have a reason to live.  They are outspoken, bright and know what they want for themselves and those they are responsible for.  They are self-sacrificing and will turn from the thought of a life of ease if it even has a shadow of having an ill-effect on their family or responsibilities.
At the same time the heroine has the propensity to love deeply and with great empathy, but not always the ability to allow themselves to be loved.  Be it for fear of potential hurt and abandonment or just fear of allowing themselves to open up to be loved back, it takes a very special hero and man to break through the restraints and barriers to reach the heart of Nancy’s heroines.  Once they do, it is pure euphoria, for the protagonists and the reader. 
The journey that Nancy takes you on through the pages of the novel to get to nirvana is like a wild ride through the mountains of West Virginia.  The emotional highs and lows of the storyline the wind through the pages dragging your heart along. She leaves you laughing, crying, and reaching for chocolate as you turn each page hoping that it will bring resolution to the twist or turn that the last page left the characters in.  Be it an emotional moment or an erotic encounter, Nancy has the ability to tie your emotions and heart-strings in knots.  It is this ability that keeps drawing me back to her books.  She makes me feel the extremes of my senses, all within a page or two, leaving me breathless.
The hero in the All Star Antes Up, was an interesting and complex character.  I enjoyed that Nancy gave depth and complexity to the hero, like the heroine, in that that was not just another rich “All Star Jock”.  We were allowed to see past the surface level and into the psyche of a man who had wars within himself that dated back to childhood.  Nancy allows her heroes to suffer, to have issues and to be human.  She also allows them to love softly, tenderly, and deeply.  What heroine, or reader doesn’t want to feel secure and loved, sincerely loved? 
Do I know Nancy, personally? No.  Did I ever have the opportunity to know other authors of note that made me be able to feel this same way, such as the Bronte sisters or Jane Austen? No.  But each of them have found the magic to lift us above the mundane, to transport us to a land where we can escape the cares of every day for a few hours and find a magical place to dream, much like we did as young girls.  A place where Prince Charmings really do come true, but Nancy’s are living and breathing, and just a little foil-able (wink).  Finding an author whose writing style and story-telling ability has connected with your heart dictates that you become like a kid at the book store.  I am no better.  I can hardly wait to read Nancy’s next installment, or her next series.  All Star Antes Up is a definite FIVE STAR winner in my book. 

Nancy Herkness is the author of the award-winning Whisper Horse series, published by Montlake Romance, as well as several other contemporary romance novels.  She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America RITA® award. Her new series, Wager of Hearts, follows the romantic adventures of three very wealthy men who make a life-changing bet.

A member of Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, and Novelists, Inc., Nancy has received many honors for her work, including the Golden Leaf Award, the Maggie Award in Contemporary Romance, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. 

Nancy graduated from Princeton University where she majored in English. In addition to her academic work in literature, she was accepted into Princeton's creative writing program, and her senior thesis was a volume of original poetry.

After graduating, Nancy had a varied career which included retail management and buying, COBOL programming, computer systems sales and marketing, and a brief stint as a receptionist at a dental office. Once her children were in school full-time, she sat down and wrote A Bridge to Love, her first romance novel to be published.

Nancy finds nothing odd about writing in the genre she calls “the “Rodney Dangerfield of the literary world. It gets no respect.”  She explains: “I was trained as a poet, but from the day my grandmother gave me my first Georgette Heyer novel I wanted to write romance. Romance is the genre of optimism, and that's why I like it.”

A native of West Virginia, Nancy now lives in suburban New Jersey with her husband, two mismatched dogs, and an elderly cat. She cheers loudly for the New Jersey Devils hockey team.

For more information, visit Nancy’s website: www.NancyHerkness.com
Or email Nancy at nancyherkness@comcast.net .