Title: WINNER TAKE ALL
Author: Laurie Devore
Release date: January 30, 2018
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Read an EXCERPT
For Nell Becker, life is a competition she needs to win.
For Jackson Hart, everyone is a pawn in his own game.
They both have everything to lose.
Nell wants to succeed at everything—school, sports, life. And victory is sweeter when it means beating Jackson Hart, the rich, privileged, undisputed king of Cedar Woods Prep Academy. Yet no matter how hard she tries, Jackson is somehow one step ahead. They’re a match made in hell, but opposites do attract.
Drawn to each other by their rivalry, Nell and Jackson fall into a whirlwind romance that consumes everything in their lives. But when a devastating secret exposes their relationship as just another game, how far will Nell go to win?
Visceral and whip-smart, Laurie Devore’s Winner Take All paints an unflinching portrait of obsessive love, toxic competition, and the drive for perfection.
NOTE: This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A Kindle eCopy was purchased for my collection.
There is a lot to love about Laurie Devore’s WINNER TAKE ALL. It is an exciting, emotional roller coaster of a read. It sheds light on a number of issues – the disparity between the rich and those less fortunate and between women and men, boys and girls. It shows how striving to be the best is not always a good thing, and can cause one to lose sight of who they are and what’s really important. It has a strong, if flawed, heroine. And it has romance, and humor, and drama, and heartbreak.
Nell Becker wants to be the best. And she would be if Jackson Hart weren’t standing in her way. With his looks, his charm, his money, and his gender, everything comes easy to him. Which only makes Nell want to beat him all the more.
But in order to win she will have to do whatever it takes. Even if it means playing dirty and becoming someone she never thought she could be. And she will have to decide whether her reputation, her friendships, her health and her heart are worth destroying if that’s what it means to defeat her nemesis.
Author Laurie Devore packed a lot into her novel of rivalry gone awry. It wasn’t just a fiery but toxic romance. It wasn’t simply a story of secrets, lies, betrayal. There was much food for thought about economic and gender inequality, hypocrisy, infidelity, alcoholism, obsession, competition.
And while many of these issues were woven seamlessly into the story, there were a few instances where they felt inorganic or heavy-handed and it became more about the issue than the characters or the story itself.
The most interesting, intriguing, maddening, fascinating part of the story was the author’s choice of heroine. Nell is not the most likable of characters – to put it mildly – and isn’t the most obvious choice to be a paragon. At times her behavior is downright appalling. She’s driven, ultra competitive, judgmental, selfish, stubborn, reckless and arrogant. But she is strong – her mistakes and failures do not make her pitiable or turn her into a victim. She goes after what she wants – even if a bit too ruthlessly. She’s a fighter. And she does, eventually, learn from her mistakes – which, for some, might be too late for her to earn her redemption.
Whether you champion Nell or despise her, WINNER TAKE ALL is a compelling, thoroughly entertaining, and emotionally-charged read that sparks and sizzles and will keep readers riveted.
A note about the cover: I have some major cover love for WINNER TAKE ALL – and not just because I did notice exactly which match is raised.
About Laurie Devore
Laurie Devore was born and raised in small town South Carolina and graduated from Clemson University. She now lives and works in Chicago, where she misses the charms and contradictions of the south every day. In her spare time, she reluctantly runs marathons, watches too much TV, and works a “y’all” into every conversation. She is the author of How to Break a Boy.