Released: August 2010
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Around the World Tours
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?
Lauren Barnholdt has always managed to crack me up in her novels, and this one was packed full of great moments. One thing I really enjoyed about Aces Up was the main character Shannon. She's very smart, fiercely independent, and has a good heart. Due to living in a horrible economy, which I think all of us obviously can relate to, there have been some cut backs in Shannon's family. So she knows the only way she's going to get into the college of her dream is to somehow come up with her own money. Now how many of you know a teenager that is willing buy a fake ID so she can work? Yeah, Shannon is awesome.
When Cole approaches Shannon on joining the exclusive underground club Aces Up, I thought I knew how this story was going to play out. There was something very swoon-worthy about Cole. He's cute and has that 'need to know basis' type of attitude. When he was around, I thought Max who? But Shannon is no fool, and the choices she makes throughout the novel had even me surprised.
I don't know a thing about poker. Even after reading this book, I still don't. But I do know that the plot, characters, and everything in between was such a fun read! I think this is one of Barnholdt's best books, and as always, I'm looking forward to what kind of crazy idea she'll come up with next!