Tuesday, April 22, 2014

WINNER'S CURSE by Nicole Castro: Review, Excerpt & Giveaway


A man. A ring. A box. It's not what you think. Natalie Journeycake can barely pay her rent. Hell, sometimes she flat out can't! But when her landlady sells the only thing Talie had to barter with- her dead brother Sam's Celtic ring- she has to try to get it back. When she loses the auction where it is being sold, she tries to plead with the winner, only to find out it is the same hot Irishman she met earlier in the week. Declan Quinn's new place in her life is a little too convenient and she suspects that they did not meet by accident. Declan may have the ring, but as they get closer, Talie is in danger of losing her heart.

When she learns that the junky piece of jewelry is the key to opening Sam's safety deposit box in London, she's as intrigued as Declan is determined. Follow them as they jump through hoops and dodge daggers in order to find out what Sam left behind- for the both of them.


“Good morning,” I managed to get out. “Can I get you something to drink? Coffee?”
“Yes, please.”
“Oh!” My smile widened.
“What?” The man with the pretty sky blue eyes looked self-conscious.
“What part of Ireland are you from?” I asked boldly. “Dublin? Cork?”
“I… what makes you think I am from Ireland?” He asked in a forced American accent then shifted uncomfortably.
I waved my hand at him. “Oh I can hear your accent. I can tell you are trying to hide it, but I can hear it. Bionic ears,” I pointed to said ears. In reality it was because I was a speech pathologist major in college. All that slid to the wayside since my stupid brother got himself perished.
“I have tried to hide it,” he sulked slightly.
“Well I am sure to the untrained ear, it may be inaudible.” My mind screamed at him for even thinking about hiding one of the sexiest accents on the planet.
Marjorie stopped for a moment to look at my customer. “He’s hot,” she whispered in my ear far too loudly.
I am sure I turned as red as did he. “I do not know why you would purposely try to get rid of such a lovely accent, but what do I know? Anyway, coffee?” I tried to change the subject from his hotness and hot accent. “Oh wait, you already said yes.” I rolled my eyes pretending I was a dingbat and walked to get him a mug. I leaned toward him. “Can you say ‘lovely’?”
His lips twitched. “Lovely.”
He said it in a full Cork accent and I nearly swooned. Flirting never hurt a tip. “Coffee, coming up!” I turned and headed for the beverage station.
“You need a date.”
“What! Margie, you are always trying to set me up with customers!”
She rummaged around next to me, feigning busyness. “He’s cute and you need to get laid.”
“Margie!” I yelled in a whisper. She was like my mother if she were twenty years older and spent her entire life in a mediocre California greasy spoon.
“When’s the last time, Cake? Huh? That schmuck Mark? I bet it wasn’t even any good.”
“Oh my god,” I put my hand on my forehead and closed my eyes. She was right, it wasn’t.
“You better get that coffee for Gerard Butler over there or else I’ll wait on him.” She made a cowboy sound that got their horse to move.
“Gerard Butler is Scottish.”
She shrugged. “Whatever.”
I got Gerard, er, my Irish guy, his coffee and put my pen to the check paper. “Ready to order?”
“You know that I heard every word of that, right?”
There was only a distance of about eight feet between his table and the coffee station. I grimaced and hoped for the floor to swallow me whole. “Sure do!”
A dark eyebrow shot up with a wry smile then he looked over the menu. “I’ll take a number five. Over medium. Rye. Well-done hash browns.”
“Excellent choice. That will be right up for you.” I liked the fact that he gave me the answers to my unasked questions. He tried to give me the menu but we always left them stacked on the table behind the condiments’ rack. I tucked it away and he apologized. It was then that I noticed the hazel in his eyes. They were sky blue on the outside and a beautiful shade of greenish brown near the pupil. I paused to stare and he darted his eyes away as if it had happened to him a million other times.
I said nothing as to not make it an even more awkward moment, turned in his order and began to check on my other patrons. They were mostly people that came in every single day and I knew I probably wouldn’t make an idiot out of myself with any of them. Gerard’s breakfast order came up way too fast and I had no choice but to deliver it.
“Anything else?” I prayed that he would say no.
“No. Thank you.”
I nodded and began to walk back to the coffee station.
“Oh, one thing,” he called after me.
Damn it. I turned around and waited for his request.
“Is it true?” he asked, right before he took a bite of his perfectly cooked over-medium eggs. “What she said?”
“Was it bad?”
“Was what…” Oh dear lord he was not speaking of my last sexcapade. The realization must have been written on my face for he smiled and sipped his coffee.
“It was. That’s a shame.” His accent was more pronounced and it made my stomach flutter.
I stood there dumbfounded as he continued to eat but he said nothing more. I pictured having sex with him.
He was rough in a really, really good way. Dirty talk spewed from his pretty lips as he made sure the woman beneath him was completely satisfied.
He looked up at me then like he could feel the perverted thoughts running through my head.



Winner's Curse was one of those stories that you finish and crave more!  I REALLY am curious to see if this gets turned into a series, but for now I am content with how this short story/novella played out.  

Nicole Castro did a great job getting you into this story and taking the reader on a ride that has unexpected and fun twists!  Winner's Curse was so much more than a romance story, it was a great mystery/suspense story rolled in as well.  The pacing and writing flow very smoothly and it is quite amazing how Nicole Castro is able to squeeze so much story into 78 pages!  Again, I just wish this was fleshed out into a longer, full length novel so we can really dive in and get to know the characters and spend more time with them as they embark on the journey the ring unexpectedly brings them.    

I loved the characters in this story!  Talie and Declan had great chemistry and the dialogue was spot on to help drive the story and keep things moving at the quick pace.  Winner's Curse was a surprise for me and I can't wait to see if Nicole Castro adds more to this storyline and turn this into a series of novellas.

If you are looking for a story with mystery, intrigue, humor and romance that you can fit in to one evening Winner's Curse is the perfect fit!  I will definitely be looking out for more Nicole Castro books in the future!



Nicole was born and raised in southeast Michigan in the 1900s. Nicole writes contemporary romance novellas and historical romance novels. She is known for her "real talk" in her writing, evoking emotion with thoughts people really have. No purple prose here, but you'll fall in love with the characters just the same. Nicole just released her seventh book, THE DISINTEGRATED HOUSE, Book 2 of the House collection. House books 3, 4 and 5 are in the progress/planning stages. 



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