It's no secret that I loved The Roofer by Erica Orloff. When I found out she was writing under the name Tess Hudson, I figured that it was a way for her to separate her more "gritty" books from her chick lit/romance/paranormal stuff. To a certain extent it is, but Double Down was a bit of a disappointment. It was one of those books that starts out great, then spends the next 250+ pages sliding down hill.
Skye McNally lives in Las Vegas and is a compulsive gambler. She blames this on the fact that she was raised by her single father, a notorious New York bookie whose idea of daddy-daughter time was to teach his little girl how the spread works. Skye ends up in Vegas after a "lost weekend" where she gets drunks, blows a ton of money, marries, then annuls the marriage to her father's right hand man.
She's now attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings and failing miserably at it. Her sponsor is George "T.D." Russell, a disgraced NFL offensive lineman who was banned from the game thanks to his gambling addiction. He's the father she never had and is trying to get her to see the error of her ways - but Skye's past just keeps calling her home.
After a visit to New York, and a losing streak a mile wide, Skye hits the Nevada desert where she runs into none other than Mark Shannon, pretty boy quarterback for the New York Mustangs, the expansion team poised to go to the Super Bowl. But Mark "ran away" and now everyone in the free world is looking for him. Well Skye finds him, and sparks fly. But it doesn't take long for the NFL to become very unhappy that their golden boy is hanging out with a bookie's daughter.
The book starts out with a wonderfully gritty tone, and the prologue is damn near perfect. Arguably one of the best I have ever read. Unfortunately, once Skye hooks up with Mark the whole novel stops working entirely for me. They spend one evening in the desert together and whamo! We have love at first sight, destiny, fate, all the crap that I tend to hate in romance novels. Does love at first sight happen? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. I'm a firm believer in lust at first sight - so let's just leave it at that. Plus all the "it must have been fate that we hooked up in the middle of nowhere" crap just gets on my nerves. It's right up there with soul mates in my opinion.
Of course Skye is powerless against her addiction until she meets Mark, when suddenly she realizes that she hasn't thought about gambling once since meeting him and she feels "shame" over her problem. So basically our girl is cured by the love of a good man. Excuse me for a minute -
Puke, barf, puke.
Sorry, that kind of thing gets on my nerves. Call me old fashioned, but you can't make anyone change. They have to want to change. And up until meeting Mark, Skye has no desire to change, even though she's paying lip service at her GA meetings. Suddenly this guy shows up and viola!
I've already ranted about a former offensive lineman (Skye's sponsor) having the nickname of "Touchdown." Well the rest of the football stuff in this book just doesn't sit well. Mark talks about games being played on Astroturf (for the record, this book was published in 2005 and by that point teams had moved to either natural grass or field turf, which is like a Cadillac compared to Astroturf's Yugo). The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders do not wear red, white and blue - they just wear white and blue. An expansion team going to the Super Bowl? Yeah, and tomorrow pigs fly. None of this is terribly "big" stuff, and if you don't know a lick about football you won't care, but it drove me insane. Little, nitpicky stuff. What I found intriguing is that the gambling stuff rang true, but the football stuff felt "off."
Towards the end I began to get bored because the book morphs into a street version of Romeo and Juliet, with Mark and Skye's "romance" paralleling the romance of her parents (Southern debutante meets street thug at Kentucky Derby and they elope). It's during this portion of the story that Hudson seems to do a 180 and suddenly Skye's daddy and childhood aren't so bad after all. Hey, it's great Skye stops blaming her father for her problem(s), but Daddy Warbucks he ain't.
Final Verdict? A promising beginning and premise that steadily fizzles out with each passing chapter. Final Grade = C