The Gamble is the first book in the Colorado Mountain series and it's a difficult story to rate. It was highly effective emotionally and I actually found myself wiping tears from my face at several points while reading the book. Some of the scenes are really powerful and beautifully presented.
But then there are even more moments where it's just not gelling. One of the main traits of Nina's (the female lead) is that she keeps things to herself when she should speak her mind. So basically she's lying about her feelings throughout the majority of the book. A typical exchange goes as follows: "Are you okay?" Max asked. "I'm just tired," I lied.
She admits she's lying about her feelings so many times it just makes her really annoying. This book really suffered from "JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER!!!" syndrome.
It was also not acceptable to me that Max kept his own big secret throughout, either. That was a huge deal and each time he had an opening to tell her and didn't he dropped a notch for me.
There's a lot of pointless arguing that ends up feeling like padding which is so unfortunate because those scenes that were powerfully emotional were amazing and the bickering just detracted.
Ultimately I give it a 3 with all the stars dedicated to those scenes that ripped it up so wonderfully. The namby-pamby lying and tedious arguing, however, brought the rating down significantly.