Review: The Grand Opening by Ava Miles

Posted January 14, 2014 by Jonetta in Book Review | | 2 Comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Grand Opening by Ava MilesThe Grand Opening by Ava Miles
Series: Dare Valley #3
Published by CreateSpace on September 14, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 350
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

When Peggy McBride moves to Dare Valley, Colorado, the last thing she wants is to meet a man. If she's learned one thing from her divorce, it's that love is a messy business, and as a single mom and the new deputy sheriff, she has her hands full. But when hotel magnate and poker player Mac Maven moves to town, she becomes enthralled by the very last man she would ever consider dating... Mac Maven has come to Dare with ambitious plans for his new project, the restoration of The Grand Mountain Hotel as a boutique poker venue. Only one person offers him a less than warm welcome: Deputy Sheriff Peggy McBride, who is dead set against gambling. But although Peggy's a fierce opponent, Mac senses a tenderness and passion within her that he longs to free. Having helped his sister raise her teenage son, he understands Peggy, and can see past her tough-as-nails exterior. When a threat to Mac's hotel surfaces, he and Peggy must join forces to find out who's responsible. Working together ignites the white-hot connection between them, and their cooperation takes a decidedly personal turn. But can Mac convince Peggy to set their differences aside and take a gamble on love?(

The Grand Opening

The set up
Mac Maven plans to open a boutique poker hotel in Dare Valley. He’s a wealthy businessman specializing in these type establishments and he’s relocating himself, his sister and nephew to the city. Peggy McBride, who is Tanner’s sister, the town’s deputy sheriff and a single mother, has already attempted (unsuccessfully) to block his efforts and is still looking for other ways to keep the hotel from opening.

The issues
Both Peggy and Mac had fathers who had gambling issues that left an imprint on them. She truly believes that having poker tournaments in town will be the beginning of a cycle of corruption based on her experience. He has an unblemished history to date with every hotel he’s opened in other cities. They have a strong, undeniable attraction to each other and Mac’s determined to win her over. Peggy isn’t above using some pretty dicey tactics to have his venture fail.

What I loved about the story
Mac Maven is a professional poker player who has committed his life so far to taking care of his sister and being a surrogate father to his teen-aged nephew. He takes the role seriously and everything decision he makes about his personal life is measured against the impact to the kid. He’s honorable, smart, über sexy and loyal. I loved his style and how tirelessly he worked to win Peggy over and his relationship with her son was also pretty special.

What drove me crazy
Peggy McBride. I must admit I intensely disliked her for most of the book. Some of the things she did to Mac seemed spiteful. I completely understood her fears, got her desire to protect her son. But, Mac never showed up as anything but a really good man and she never seemed to see that because she was so self focused and determined to bring him down.

What redeemed Peggy
I was so worried that I’d finish this book with really bad feelings about her, thinking Mac deserved better. The book takes you almost to the finish line before you experience her transformation and the depths of her despair about what got her to that point. It was a gut wrenching moment, seeing a character get turned inside out.

The bottom line
This was a difficult and emotionally charged story. Typical of this series, the secondary characters play a strong role, having almost as significant a place as the main characters, without detracting from their romance. The result is a layered story, complex characters and a robust set up for the next couple’s book. I really liked this one, despite and because of my issues with Peggy and I can’t wait to continue the series.


About Ava Miles

Ava Miles burst onto the contemporary romance scene after receiving Nora Roberts’ blessing for her use of Ms. Roberts’ name in her debut novel, NORA ROBERTS LAND, which kicked off The Dare Valley Series and brought praise from reviewers and readers alike. Much to Ava’s delight, BlogCritics says “It [NORA ROBERTS LAND] captures the best of…a Nora Roberts novel,” while USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog praises the series noting its “wonderful, idyllic setting… [and] great characters.” Ava continued The Dare Valley Series in FRENCH ROAST, which Tome Tender says “raised the entertainment bar again” and then THE GRAND OPENING, which reviewer Mary J. Gramlich says “is a continuation of love, family, and relationships.” Now, Ava releases the fourth book in the series, THE HOLIDAY SERENADE, with her recognized wit and charm, creating happy endings with humor and heart.

Born in a small town herself, Ava has created the small, Colorado town of Dare Valley and the residents who make it memorable, including the Hale family who, like Ava, are descended from a long line of journalists. Ava’s great-great grandfather won his first newspaper in a poker game in 1892 and her family has had something to do with telling stories, whether to share news or, in her case, fiction, ever since. In fact her clan is still reporting on local events more than one hundred years later at their family newspaper.

Ava is a member of the Romance Writers of America and Washington Romance Writers. She is also part of an unofficial group that regularly convenes a writing retreat at Nora Roberts’ restored Inn Boonsboro in western Maryland. Having left behind the “day job,” which took her, literally, all over the world, she now writes full-time in the peace and quiet of her northern Virginia porch-swinging-friendly community.

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