Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Beware of Card Games in Romances

ETA: I published this entry yesterday, then took it down to fix something on it and forgot to put it back up. So if you were wondering what the hell happened, I goofed. Sorry about that.

Ever notice that nothing good comes of card games in romance novels? Either one’s virtue is bartered away, or one takes possession of something not worth possessing, or that is possessed by some other supernatural force. OR ALL THREE.

Mar is looking for a romance that featured the heroine winning in a card game – something I haven’t seen much of, honestly.

I’m trying to find a book that I read in the earlier part of this decade.
It’s a US based historical romance. The lead female character is a card
dealer on a steamboat. She gets involved in a private game where a young man
bets his property deed. Naturally, she wins. Well, she arrives to claim her
property, she has a letter from the man she won the land from….. and the
older and sexy brother is in residnece and refuses to leave. They even go so
far at one point to draw a line of chalk down the house to divide the

Naturally there is sexual tension galore. The business of the property is
breeding race horses. As a gambler the female lead suggests increasing the
stud fees, there are disagreements about the business but, again they are
drawn to each other and eventually give in to their lust. And, the sex is
off the map…..

Epilogue of the book has them at a race – in the winners circle as the
owner/breeder of the winning horse. The two leads have married one another
and they are expecting a child. After all the hurrah, the female lead goes
into labor and delivers a healthy baby…….

I’ve no idea the title or author of the book. any ideas you have will be
welcomed. Thanks!

Taciturn squatters turned hot lovers? Aw yeah. Anyone remember this book?


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  1. 1
    Amy says:

    Gah, this sounds so much like a Shirl Henke book but I’m striking out on a title if I even have the right author.

  2. 2
    Natalie Arloa says:

    No idea, but now I’m dying for someone to provide the title so I can read it!

  3. 3
    Laura (in PA) says:

    Lol – I wondered what happened to this. I saw it yesterday, and was waiting to see what the book was, then it was gone.

  4. 4
    TaraL says:

    They even go so far at one point to draw a line of chalk down the house to divide the property.

    LOL. I always wondered what would happen if the writers of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island got together and wrote a romance novel.

  5. 5
    SB Sarah says:

    @Laura (in PA) totally my goof. *headdesk*

  6. 6
    Jenica says:

    Mar, I think I have this one, but I’ll have to check my shelves.  I think it’s from the 90’s and it’s probably been that long since I read it…

  7. 7
    Elizabeth says:

    I don’t think this is what you’re looking for, but Serena, the heroine of Nora Roberts’ Playing the Odds, is a card dealer on a boat.

  8. 8
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    This sounds nice, except for the babies-ever-after ending. I prefer my romances to assume that it is in fact possible to lead a happy, fulfilling life without having a full nursery.

  9. 9
    Anony Miss says:

    @TaraL, snort.

  10. 10
    willaful says:

    The Horse Masters Daughter by Susan Wiggs? Let me check that title…

  11. 11
    willaful says:

    Naw, I remembered the title but the plot isn’t right.

  12. 12
    Anne Lee says:

    Oh my God – I know this one!!!

    It’s “Temptation” by Catherine Hart.

    I haven’t read that book in over 10 years, but have fond memories of the main characters. Hart’s novels were comfort reads for me throughout the 90s.

  13. 13
    saidee says:

    What ever happened to Catherine hart?  I found some of her books at a used book store and found them hilarious so I looked her up and no new books since the 90s.  Her books were hilarious!!

  14. 14
    Dancing_Angel says:

    Not romance, exactly, but “Scout’s Progress” by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller has the heroine, brilliant mathematician Aelliana Caylon, winning a ship in a card game. 

    Great book, btw.  :)

  15. 15
    Mel R says:


    Hear hear!  So happy I’m not the only one that feels that way

  16. 16
    Owen Kennedy says:

    Every time you post one of these “have you heard of this book” posts I never have. WTH have I been reading? LOL. I devour romances yet clearly I should get out more. I feel as though I should one day be able to say “I know that book!” yet sadly, my knowledge is lacking. I would remember someone dealing cards on a Steamboat.

  17. 17
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    @Mel R

    Word. There’s such a stigma against women who are child-free by choice; every Mother’s Day, people either a) ask me when I’m going to have kids, or b) tell me how sorry they are for me that I don’t have them. Hello, people! My identity does not reside in my uterus!

  18. 18
    Cait says:

    I have it(at least according to my spreadsheet)….never read it though..
        I was collecting everything by every author whose name was Catherine – Cait—get it :>).  Do you know how many authors there are whose names are Catherine or a nick-name of?  I finally mostly quit that.  I have 12 books of hers; doubles of several, including this one (according to my spreadsheet).
    I guess I need to dig it out.

  19. 19
    Aurian says:

    I thought this is a Kathleen Woodiwiss title. Been over 20 years since I read it.

  20. 20
    Lori S. says:



  21. 21
    Newf Herder says:

    @Mel R and @DreadPirateRachel

    SERIOUSLY!  Could not have said it better myself.  I’ve been married for 6 years and now, at age 37, I notice people ask me less frequently when I’m going to have kids, but it still happens.  I say “I’m not.” They say “Really!?”

  22. 22
    Rebecca says:

    Going slightly off-topic here, Georgette Heyer’s FARO’S DAUGHTER has a heroine who runs a gaming club.  And in the opera LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST (based on the play GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST), the heroine, Minnie, wins her outlaw lover’s life from the sheriff in a poker game.  (She cheats.)  There’s a cool interview with Debbie Voight, who sang Minnie at the Met last season, talking about the poker game and Minnie here:

  23. 23
    KiriD79 says:

    @Mel R and @DreadPirateRachel.  I saw a button that I think is great for those who don’t/won’t/can’t have kids.  Especially in light of the constant questions.

    I am in my thirties and got married a year ago.  People who don’t know me well keep asking when my hubby and I are going to procreate.  Plan to, after we give birth to a new septic system, replacement windows and heating and cooling system. 

    Since this is a book review:  I don’t mind the ‘babies-ever-after’  in the Historical’s I tend to read, in Contemporary, it just reinforces the you got married you have kids sterotype.

  24. 24
    CarrieS says:

    It never ends – we are very happy having one kid but I am asked daily when I’m having more.  Since DD loves babies I’m always asked, “When are you having a baby for DD?”  This baffles me.  A baby is not a toy.  If I’m supposed to be producing a baby for her to raise and play with, she can have her own when she grows up – or not! 

    Captcha:  horse75:  My DD wants 75 horses but I’m not getting those for her, either.

  25. 25

    I cannot wait to track this book down, it sounds fun!

    On the other…breeder note: I do get tired of the epilogue always being 1 year later and they have a baby and are so happy. Maybe, here is a thought…wait a few years a least and continue to have some fun and great sex before you pop out the kid.

    I married a man with 3 boys all under 10. I was completely overwhelmed for years and knew there was no way I could handle the stress of raising them with a baby of my own, so I chose not to have a baby and focus on my new family. I cannot tell you the ridiculous things people said to me. “When are you going to have a real baby” was one of them. I pointed to the three wild children I was raising and said, “What are these, Imaginary?” “Oh you’ll regret it if you don’t have a baby of your own” “Step Children can never love you like your own child etc.”

    I know most people fall into traditional roles and so the story’s tend to go that way too, but I’m always stoked when I read a nontraditional epilogue.

  26. 26
    DreadPirateRachel says:


    That is an awesome button! Want.

    Since this is a book review:  I don’t mind the ‘babies-ever-after’  in the Historical’s I tend to read, in Contemporary, it just reinforces the you got married you have kids sterotype.

    I vaguely remember reading an historical with a heroine who actively did not want children, but I could be conflating Crusie’s Bet Me with a Loretta Chase that I read at the same time. I only started reading romances after I found this blog two years ago, so I read a ton of them to make up for lost time, and the plot lines get blurred sometimes. It would be awesome to find an historical romance that intentionally didn’t feature children as part of the epilogue. Anybody have a recommendation?

  27. 27
    KiriD79 says:


    Glad you liked the button.  I should qualify my statement.  Women did not, that i know of, have great methods of Birth Control in Medeval times.  Hence the, “I don’t mind”.  Babies tend to happen when the Buxom Blushing Babe and the Hunky Hung Hero are having earthshattering, eardrumshattering sex every night.  If I come across any with out the baby-factor I will definately let you know.

    @Laurie Blanchard.  Wow, people will utter some tripe.  Step children are not ‘real children’.  Kudos to you for knowing your limits and for realizing that family and children are who you make them, not just give birth too.  How did you hold your tongue when this stuff was said to you?

  28. 28
    crow girl says:


    I have an excel file for all my books, too!  (Er, … or does everyone?)  I’ve got separate tabs for ‘Want’ and ‘Purchased’ (with the ones recently moved from tab to tab—unread books—marked in green). 

    And I once went on a small spree looking for books with heroines named Leigh (my name) … because it amused me (and I’m a dork like that).  I only ended up with about three, though (Judith McNaught’s Someone to Watch Over Me, Sandra Brown’s Shadows of Yesterday, Lynsay Sands’ Bite Me if You Can).

    I keep hoping that someone will create a comprehensive book search engine some day. (Google can only do so much …)

  29. 29
    kkw says:

    I don’t want kids, have never wanted kids, have never wanted anyone’s advice about whether I should have kids (2 out of 3 ain’t bad).  I used to just skip the epilogues because of the inevitable babies but I’ve just grown accustomed.  Now a HEA that doesn’t feature progeny is vaguely jarring to me.  You’d think I’d be thrilled, but I guess I like the pattern more than I like the content.

  30. 30
    Emily says:

    I don’t have kids nor am I sure I want them, but I don’t mind reading epilogues with children. I don’t understand why the children=happy ending. If they’re still together and happy after a couple of years, why isn’t that good enough?

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