Ex-Sighting by Pamela Morsi
Second chances. Jake and Regi had been high school and college sweethearts. But on the day they were to be married, Regi took one look down the aisle and realized that it wasn't what she wanted. She left him standing there in order to pursue her dreams of travel and international business. Ten years later, she's in Las Vegas and has been for two months, with her dreams taking a different path. She's sitting in the bar at the Excelsior Hotel, realizing that her nomadic lifestyle has actually left her pretty lonely. Then she looks up to see Jake and a woman walk into the bar.
Jake can't believe his eyes. Regi is the last person he ever expected to run into. He's never forgotten her, and seeing her again brings it all back. But to protect himself a little, he doesn't correct her when she thinks he's married to the woman with him.
I loved seeing Regi and Jake sitting there, catching up on each other's lives. With ten years of maturity, both realize that though they'd been in love, they had never actually talked about their future together. I liked the way that they both realized that they had made mistakes. Then Jake kisses her and they get lost in it, before Regi realizes she kissing (she thinks) a married man. I loved seeing Jake chase her down to explain. The scene in the elevator was great. I also love the tag about the historic first for the hotel that resulted from it.
The Promise by Linda J. Parisi
Mac and Sarah are in Las Vegas to get married. He is an Air Force helicopter pilot who is being shipped out to Vietnam in a couple days. I loved seeing the two of them as they crammed as much as they could into those two days. Their love for each other is strong and will have to carry them through the next year while he is gone.
It was really sweet to see how sensitive Mac was to Sarah's nervousness. He was so full of fun that he was able to hold off most of her worry. I loved the scene in the casino as his "honeymoon chips" brought him good luck. I also loved the next day, as they made friends with Gil and Lenore. They were a very interesting couple and I loved seeing the fun they all had together. When it was time for them to leave, Sarah made Mac promise that they would spend their first anniversary back at the Excelsior. Mac didn't want to promise because he knew how many things could go wrong, but he did.
A year later, Sarah is back there, along with Gil and Lenore. They had maintained their friendship while Mac was gone, and they were there to support her. Mac had been reported missing four months earlier, but she was determined to keep the promise. I ached for her as she relived their honeymoon memories. I loved the surprise that the desk clerk had for her, and the effect it had on her.
Same Time, Next Year by Jeff DePew
The story begins with a couple in the hotel room. They've just made love and are talking. He wants to know when she's finally going to leave her husband so that they can be together. She's wary, afraid of her husband. He has said that he will never let her go. There's a pounding at the door, and when the man opens it the man on the other side starts shooting. The lady is shot and the scene fades to darkness.
Thirty years later a new desk clerk is faced with an unexpected problem. A woman has arrived, claiming she has a reservation for room 732. But that room is blocked and there is no key code for it. The clerk is rescued by the manager, who knows the deal with the room, finds the regular key, and checks the lady in. He explains the history of the room to the clerk.
Next we see the woman as she prepares to enter the room. She thinks back to the year after the shooting and everything she'd been through, her first visit to the room since the shooting, and what she found there. Thirty years later and she visits that room every year, with a love that never dies.
Interesting story with an ending I did not expect.
What the Hell Happened in Vegas! By Lori Avocato
Good little mystery story that reminded me a little of Stephanie Plum books. Pauline and Jagger are in Vegas to investigate a case of medical insurance fraud. Jagger is tall, hot, and always in control. He dresses in black. Pauline is more at home in comfortable clothes, has a huge crush on Jagger, and tends to lose focus when she's around him.
They are assigned to act the part of a high roller and his girlfriend and investigate a chiropractor who works out of the casino. Jagger, of course, needs no help. A drag queen associate arrives to prep Pauline for her part, and the description of that process is pretty amusing. Pauline's new look doesn't appear to get much of a reaction from Jagger, but she's certainly noticed when they arrive in the casino.
After a pretty successful evening of gambling, Jagger and Pauline are escorted to the doctor's office for his appointment. Pauline isn't too thrilled that the bombshell doctor is going to have her hands all over Jagger, but once they're out of sight she gets to work. I loved seeing her work and her coolness when Jagger and the doctor returned to the waiting room. The best part was her surprise when they got back to their room and Jagger did not do what she expected.
Kiss Me and Kill Me with Love by Connie Concoran Wilson
Phyllis and her sisters are entertainers at the Excelsior. She is the youngest and a bit on the wild side. She likes the guys and is quite a flirt. She is also in a relationship of sorts with Sam, a known mobster, who is very possessive. At the same time she is more than flirting with an up and coming entertainer at another hotel, even though she knows that Sam wouldn't like it.
We also see Sam in negotiations with the CIA, who want him to assassinate Fidel Castro. Sam is willing, but he wants them to bug Phyllis's dressing room so he can check up on her. They agree, but one of the agents starts to have second thoughts. He goes to the oldest sister, Dorothy, and tells her what is going on. Dorothy, being the protective sister that she is, decides to go to Sam on her sister's behalf. The conversation is interesting, but the result isn't what I expected.
Not my favorite of the stories, as I prefer the romances.
There Will Always Be Vegas by Mathew Kaufman
Arthur is an older gentleman, CEO of a pharmaceutical business. He is also gay, but has had very bad luck with relationships. He is awkward around other people and has given up trying to find someone to love. He visits the Excelsior several times a year as it holds pleasant memories for him. This time, he meets a bellhop who he is very drawn to.
Hunter started working at the Excelsior just a few months earlier. His life hasn't been so good. His father died when he was young, leaving his mother to raise Hunter and his brother. When he was sixteen, she had a stroke and was unable to work. He tried to earn enough to support them, but it wasn't easy. Then he was attacked one night and then forced into prostitution for a couple years. Some of it he didn't mind, but others he did. When his pimp was imprisoned, Hunter was able to escape that life.
Even though this sort of story isn't what I usually read, I liked seeing the relationship develop between Arthur and Hunter. For Arthur it was love at first sight. He is still awkward in his advances, and was afraid that he had scared Hunter off. Hunter couldn't believe that Arthur was interested in him, and felt that he wouldn't be once he knew more about him. I thought Arthur's dinner invitation was sweet and liked seeing the way they connected.
I really liked the ending, with the surprises that were in store for Hunter and his family. It was great to see Arthur finally find someone to make him happy.
Love at the Las Vegas Bake-Off by C.H. Admirand
One of my favorite stories in the book. Peggy is in Las Vegas to participate in a bake-off. Ben, his brother and two cousins are there to provide security for her, as she has been receiving threats. Peggy doesn't believe the threats are real and isn't at all happy about their presence. She's especially angry at Ben, as she had previously made him one of her special pies and he hadn't even acknowledged it.
It's obvious there are sparks between Ben and Peggy right from the beginning. He is really interested in her, but his relationship skills are really terrible. I loved his determination to protect her, even though she insisted she didn't need it. Peggy is just as attracted to him, but is hurt and angry over the lack of response from him. She also seems to have some self image issues, believing that she's too tall to appeal to him. I loved their interactions as he tries to concentrate on protection while wanting to pursue her, and she stands up against him in spite of the way she feels about him.
I liked how Ben was so certain that the threats were real. I could easily feel his frustration with her refusal to believe. As he and his partners worked through the information they had, the origins of the threats became more obvious. The final confrontation at the bake-off was really intense with a bit of a surprise twist. When it was all over, there was a great scene at the hospital and right after, as Ben finally makes his feelings known. Peggy doesn't make it easy, and Ben's brother Matt adds his own two cents to the process.
Finding a Hero by Christina Skye
Maddie is in Vegas as part of a secret government agency on a security mission for a senator. She returns to her room and discovers an unknown man in it. She overhears him in the bathroom, where he is speaking Russian. Even though she hides while she figures out what she's going to do, he discovers her and knocks her out. She recovers quickly and holds him off with her own weapon while waiting for her backup.
Gabe is also in Vegas for the same reason, part of the same agency. Someone messed with the hotel reservations which is why he was in the same room. He's taken surprise by Maddie, and intrigued by her at the same time.
The story takes place over just a few hours. I loved the initial meeting between the two. Maddie is tough and doesn't hold back, Gabe is puzzled but determined. Once they discover that they are on the same side, the attitude changes a little. Maddie is an amazing computer genius and uses her skills to find out who is behind the current threats. Gabe is good also, but in different ways, and watches over her as she works.
Both are attracted, but try to resist. Maddie has had man issues and is avoiding them, Gabe feels that she is way too young for him. When the confrontation with the bad guy comes, Gabe rescues her. There's a brief interlude with a kiss before they are separated. As she and her boss leave Vegas, she's bummed that she hasn't heard from him again. Then her boss delivers something from Gabe, with a note about the future. We're left hanging a bit, so I'd like to know what happens.
There's also a touch of paranormal, dealing with a blue light that makes her hands glow. There isn't really any explanation of it. I'd like to know more.