Seventeen-year-old high school senior Shannon Card needs money. And lots of it. She's been admitted to Wellesley, but her dad just lost his job, and somehow she has to come up with a year of tuition herself. But Shannon's dream of making big bucks waitressing at the local casino, the Collosio, disappears faster than a gambler's lucky streak. Her boss is a tyrant, her coworker is nuts, and her chances of balancing a tray full of drinks while wearing high-heeled shoes are slim to none. Worse, time is running out, and Shannon hasn't made even half the money she'd hoped.
When Shannon receives a mysterious invitation to join Aces Up, a secret network of highly talented college poker players, at first she thinks No way. She has enough to worry about: keeping her job, winning the coveted math scholarship at school, and tutoring her secret crush, Max. But when Shannon musters up the nerve to kiss Max and he doesn't react at all, the allure of Aces Up and its sexy eighteen-year-old leader, Cole, is suddenly too powerful to ignore.
Soon Shannon's caught up in a web of lies and deceit that makes worrying about tuition money or a high school crush seem like kid stuff. Still, when the money's this good, is the fear of getting caught reason enough to fold?
Review: Two things drew my interest to this book. (1) I loved Barnholdt's previous book, Two-Way Street, and (2) I liked the idea of a secret poker playing society. Secret Societies always make for intriguing books.
I like that this book was centered around poker and gambling. You don't see that a lot in the YA world so it provided a very original concept. You could tell that Barnholdt really did her homework on poker, too. The characters knew the lingo and knew the game.
Shannon irritated me for most of the book. She knew from the beginning that what she was doing was was wrong, but she continued to lie and dig herself into an even deeper hole. But then, at the end of the, Shannon finally saw the light! She realized that she would indeed have to give something up in order to make things right. But then again her irritating ways could just be her character developing throughout the book.
Other than that though, I didn't have any problems with the characters. Robyn and Mackenzie were hilarious! They were by far my favorite. And just so you know, I always thought Cole was a little sketchy.
Overall, this was a really fun book that had a good plot and fun characters, and it left me really wanting to learn how to play poker.
Lauren Barnholdt has written many other books for teens. These consist of: