Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: The VIP Doubles Down by Nancy Herkness

The VIP Doubles Down (Wager of Hearts Book 3) by Nancy Herkness
Contemporary romance released by Montlake Romance on April 18, 2017

In the witty, sizzling finale to award-winning author Nancy Herkness’s Wager of Hearts series, a haunted writer conquers his demons with the help of a feisty muse and a passion that doesn’t play by the book.

Gavin Miller, the billionaire author of a bestselling thriller series, struggles with a grim secret: he hasn’t written a word in more than a year.

Writer’s block is killing his spirit and jeopardizing his contracts with his publisher and his Hollywood producers. Prodded by his agent, Gavin reluctantly agrees to see Allie Nichols, a sassy physical therapist tasked with treating the novelist’s severe neck and shoulder pain—and maybe his writer’s block, too.

The tempestuous Gavin and no-nonsense Allie soon find themselves entangled in a steamy affair that sparks Gavin’s creativity again. But their manipulative ex-lovers and Gavin’s lingering childhood scars threaten their happily ever after. Can Gavin and Allie find their way to love when the stakes are high and the obstacles are overwhelming?

I love it when a book lives up to my expectations. I’ve read all the other Wager of Heart stories: The CEO Buys InThe All-Star Antes Up, and the novella which I believe technically takes places after all three books in the series world timeline, The Irishman’s Christmas Gamble. I read The VIP Doubles Down in a day, and I can see myself re-reading all the books in this series.

Allie Nichols is a terrific heroine. She’s incredibly kind and caring, and has a strong sense of self. She’ll put others first, but she’ll only take it so far. Allie understands protecting herself, and self care. I loved seeing that in a heroine. While she’s struggling, I felt she also had agency, which I appreciated. Things aren’t all going her way right now, but you know she’ll make it – with or without the hero, Gavin. (This is entirely frivolous, but I have to add this personal note. I think I read a slew of redheaded heroines, so many in fact that I automatically avoided or put down any books with a redheaded heroine. Well, Allie is a redhead, and it speaks to the quality of writing here that I read on.) Anyway, Allie is down to earth, reasonable, and fun. She’s also nice. It’s mentioned a few times she’s incredibly optimistic, and she is, but not in an annoying way. Allie is someone anyone would be lucky to have in their life, and I’d love to have a friend like her.

Gavin Miller. Now, what to say about him. Of course everyone would love to have a friend who is a billionaire. But he’s so much more than that. Gavin has always shown flashes of hidden depths in the other Wager of Hearts stories, but … seriously, he’s kind of an ass. He has a lot of reason to be one, but … he is. Gavin was so lucky to meet Allie – and thankfully, by the end, he realizes that. It isn’t an easy journey for him though. While Gavin has been insightful and brilliant, he’s walled off his emotions and pushes those he cares for away with his caustic wit. In a way, he thinks people expect that of him because he’s a brilliant and successful writer … but also to protect himself. It doesn’t help that he’s got a massive case of writer’s block, a crushing sense of responsibility, along with a lot of personal tragedy, and it’s made him terribly surly, and borderline mean.

I think it says something about Gavin though, that despite him being a jerk, he’s got good people willing to stick with him, despite his best efforts to push them away, with cutting, and sometimes hurtful remarks. To his credit, he does always apologize. Gavin is definitely dynamic and layered. It’s what makes him a great character, and great hero. Then, there’s the fact that he grovels and apologizes in what I felt to be an appropriate and proportionate manner in the end. And that’s big. I know a lot of readers are willing to forgive a hero almost anything, but if he’s an ass the whole time with no redeeming characteristics, to me, he’s not a good hero. The hero suffering or grovel is rarely enough for me. I wanted to make that note because Gavin does not fall into that category. In this case, it was good. Gavin has his bad moments, but he mans up and apologizes each time while also been caring and helpful, and the supportive friend when the time calls for it.

I enjoyed The VIP Doubles Down for a lot of reasons. It’s a realistic romance. The characters are well rounded, and developed individuals. I liked that you got a real sense of who they were, and the story organically relayed their lives, and them falling in love. The plot and events flow nicely, as does the romance and their relationship. It’s never perfect. Both are wary, and Allie definitely puts up a fight because of the possibly unethical implications. (She first meets him as his physical therapist. That relationship definitely ends prior to them getting involved physically or romantically though.)

Allie has had to learn a lot of difficult life lessons, but she’s still a positive person. She isn’t blindly or willfully naive though, thankfully. She brings light to Gavin’s life, and he adores her for who she is. He’s smart, and funny, and charming, and they just work so well together. The physical attraction is there, but the numerous conversations they have, the flashes into the hidden depths, the mystery and discovery of who not only the other person is, but who they themselves could be … It all came together in a really lovely way.

I’m a little sad to see this series end, although I also definitely appreciate a series ending when it should. As I said, I’ll be re-reading these books, and will be looking for more books by Nancy Herkness. If you like contemporary romances, I hope you’ll give this series a try.

Grade: B

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

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