What it’s about:
When Milwaukee-area wife and mother MJ Boudreaux notices her husband Chris seems more interested in the casino than her, she’s more bothered that she isn’t upset than by her husband’s absence. She picks up poker as a way for them to spend more time together—and reignite their marital flame.
Although the game doesn’t give her the quality time with Chris that she’d hoped, MJ finds she has a knack for it. Increasingly unhappy at home, she turns to the felt top of the poker table for comfort. Intoxicated with newfound freedom, MJ begins spending more time at the gambling tables and less with her family, finally carving out for herself a place outside her role of wife and mother.
After a string of great wins, MJ finds herself in Vegas, attracting the attention of a certain magnetic poker star. But when she’s forced to choose between her family and her new exciting lifestyle, the stakes may be higher than she thought and MJ will have to play her hand carefully…or risk losing it all.
Luck, Love & Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert is contemporary women’s literature. The bright cover and the mention of pie made me think that like The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, this story would feature a baker, but it doesn’t.
MJ and Chris Boudreaux have been married 20 years. What once was a fun, romantic relationship between best friends has become a barely tolerable cohabitation. Anniversaries and dates are forgotten while each spouse is pursuing their own interest. In an effort to rekindle their romance, MJ decides to take on Chris’ hobby of playing poker. Unfortunately, the lure of cards, chips and bets has a stronger pull than the drudgery of daily life and a waning romance.
“A successful marriage involves falling in love many times, always with the same person.” –Mignon McLaughlin
Luck, Love & Lemon Pie starts off with a rather depressing tone. MJ is a dissatisfied housewife. Chris is self-absorbed and no longer an attentive spouse. Chris doesn’t have a voice in the story as it is MJ’s, and he remains nominally developed. Their children seem to be frequently left to their own devices while both parents are away from the home pursuing their other interests. Several interesting secondary characters provide much temptation to the Boudreaux marriage. While I found none of the characters particularly endearing, I could empathize with their situation and feelings.
There is a great deal of focus on poker as well as detailed explanation on hands, betting, and rules. The book was saved for me by the excellent banter. It is evident that at one time Chris and MJ were delighted by one another.
“You can’t just invent words.” –Chris
“I refuse to be linguistically constrained by dictionary writers.” –MJ
As MJ gets more skilled and engaged in poker, she spins further away from the gravitational pull of married life. Her poker acumen leads her to a tournament in Vegas that is attended by many sage people and one very handsome poker professional. MJ’s Vegas experience leads her to the epiphany that her marriage is worth fighting for, and she has to hope Chris can be persuaded of that as well.
Luck, Love & Lemon Pie is about choosing to love and finding a reason to fall in love with your spouse all over again. Go “all in” everyday. While I thought too much of the book was devoted to how to play poker, it is well written, it has a good message, and a satisfying ending.