Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series)
by Cara Bertoia
About Casino Queen
Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series)
Cozy Mystery/Romantic Suspense
1st in Series
Setting – California
Wild Rose Press (March 16, 2022)
Paperback : 260 pages
ISBN-10 : 1509240918
ISBN-13 : 978-1509240913
Digital ASIN : B09PJWMG9Z
Caroline Popov, alone, heartbroken, and deeply in debt ends up in glamorous Palm Springs, California where Native casinos have just opened, offering employment to thousands. She lands a job at the Palm Oasis Casino where she is mentored by the charismatic tribal chairman, John Tovar.
Embraced by casino culture, Caroline works her way up to casino manager of the Night Hawk, in the High Desert of Southern California. There, she is responsible for managing multicultural team members, satisfying the demands of often unique guests, and growing revenue while rooting out corruption.
In the process of rediscovering her inner strength, she learns, you have to gamble like your life depends on it. Because it often does.
After traveling to Russia with her husband Andrei, Caroline’s life implodes when he tells her their real estate business in Palm Springs is underwater in debt. He begs her to stay with him in Russia but she returns to California to face the creditors and deal with the fallout. To handle to immense tax debt her friend, John Tovar hires her to work at his tribe’s casinos. She soon finds herself promoted to casino manager at the Night Hawk Casino with the direction to update the place and grow it to be all it can be. But she also has to watch over the staff. Being around the amounts of money her employees see can quickly lead to corruption.
I started reading Casino Queen and could not put the book down. I stayed up late because the story had a slow build that grabbed a hold of me and wouldn’t let go. Soon the story became so surprising and suspenseful the pages were flying so fast there should have been steam coming out of my Kindle.
Caroline Popov is a character with depth. She uses her keen observations skills to keep the guests of the casino happy and her employees honest. Sadly she does make a few enemies when she needs to ban some guests and fire a few employees. She has a huge heart so those actions weren’t easy but she can’t turn her back on out of control behavior or illegal acts. She also loves her husband dearly but couldn’t abide his actions. She fights hard to always do the right thing and at times that takes a lot of courage. The more I read the more I loved this character and became invested in everything about her and what she faced.
The author draws on her vast knowledge of casinos to give her readers a real beyond-the-scenes look at a place full of bells and whistles. From the slot machines, blackjack tables, money counters, and dealers, to the restaurants and security offices and personnel she goes into depth on it all. We also get to travel the desert to Caroline’s cozy home. The desert setting was great for this story. The desolate area was eerie at the right times and beautiful in others. I really enjoyed Ms. Bertoia’s descriptions. I felt like I was following right in Caroline’s footsteps.
Casino Queen was not what I expected from reading the synopsis, it was so much more. The casino culture was both interesting and intriguing. Add to that some mystery, suspense, and romance and you have an absolutely Perfect Escape. In the end, everything in this story appears to be wrapped up nicely. I am really excited to see where the author takes Caroline next.
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About Cara Bertoia
Growing up in a strait-laced Southern family, I was always fascinated with casinos. In my twenties on a summer hiatus from teaching in North Carolina, I drove to California and became a dealer at Caesars in Lake Tahoe. Well, I can tell you that after teaching high school, handling an unruly gambler was a piece of cake. My mother highly disapproved of my working in a casino, “a place so bad it has ‘sin’ in the middle.”
Eventually, I succumbed to pressure from the family and returned east to take a high-tech job in Boston. I also began working on my MFA in writing at Emerson. I wanted to write the first realistic novel about casino life from the perspective of an experienced table games dealer. I am always amazed that normal and sometimes quite intelligent players become absolutely clueless in the casino. They repeat superstitious nonsense and no amount of logic can change their position, maybe my novel will.
While in Boston I was offered the opportunity to join Princess Cruises as a croupier. Jumping at the chance, I spent the next five years circling the globe. Sometimes life exceeds your dreams. I was awed by the wonders of Venice, the fjords of Norway, and the Northern Lights in Leningrad.
I returned from ships with a very special souvenir, my Scottish husband Ray. We went to work at the Spa Casino in Palm Springs. We now live in Hollywood, Florida, where I write about my casino years while wistfully gazing out at the ocean.
I love to see any of you out there reading Casino Queen. Send me a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post it on social media.
Thank you, Cara B
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”