Confidence Tricks by Tamara Morgan
February 12, 2013
Reviewed by Mandi and May
Blurb: Asprey Charles has always assumed he would one day take his place in the family art appraisal and insurance firm. “His place” meaning he plans to continue to enjoy his playboy lifestyle, lavish money on his Cessna, and shirk every responsibility that dares come his way.
But when a life of crime is thrust upon him, he is just as happy to slip on a mask and cape and play a highwayman rogue. After all, life is one big game—and he excels at playing.
Poppy Donovan vows that her recent release from jail will be her last—no more crime, no more cons. But when she learns that her grandmother lost her savings to a low-life financial advisor, she’s forced to do just one more job.
It’s all going smoothly until the necklace she intends to pawn to fund her con is stolen by a handsome, mocking, white-collar thief. A thief who, it turns out, could take a whole lot more than money. If she’s not careful, this blue blood with no business on her side of the tracks could run off with the last thing she can afford to lose. Her heart.
Mandi: I’ll start by saying I adored this book. It made me laugh and the hero made me swoon. The heroine, Poppy is totally kick ass and held her ground against Asprey and his brother Graff. Asprey and Graff you say? Yes, odd names (a sister named Tiffany too) but their family is in the jewelry business and had some fun naming their kids. Asprey and Poppy meet as he and Graff are trying to steal a necklace her “boyfriend” just gave her. Unknown to them, Poppy herself is a con artist, who wants deep revenge on the man she has been dating. He stole $80,000 of inheritance from her grandmother years ago (as well as many other elderly people’s money) and she is slowly setting him up to fail. But she has patience.
When she kicks Asprey’s ass as he tries to steal her necklace, Asprey realizes he isn’t dealing with some bimbo (her kick ass ways totally turn him on too). They start working together towards a common goal of sorts.
May – what is your first impression of this book?
May: My first impression was that I was going to absolutely love this book. We open on a scene where the heroine has her high heel in (our hero) Asprey’s throat and we know that she could beat the crap out of him and his brother, but she’s holding back for reasons we don’t yet know. I was intrigued to say the least, and I was excited to get to know these characters. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this book about con artists, but I will tell you beyond those first few chapters I was very disappointed. While the writing was well done, somehow the story and characters were a miss for me in nearly every scene.
Mandi did you actually like Asprey and Poppy? I felt like both were incredibly immature and at the end I wished them good riddance. I realize on the surface both look like they’ve done good deeds and are Robin Hood types in a way, but they also had very specific goals and no ideas, options, or other avenues and passions they want to explore once these jobs are complete. It really bothered me that they see themselves as wronged, yet what are they doing to change those misconceptions or prejudices? Poppy admits that she wants to pull cons because it makes her feel alive like nothing else. She also repeatedly moans about how she’s an ex-con so she has no future or options. I wanted to throw her back in jail myself, but before I go on more of a tangent perhaps I should take a break and let you chime in!
Mandi: Oh I adored Poppy and Asprey for many reasons. First, Asprey is rich and a playboy of sorts, but also has this gentle, slightly beta side to him. I loved that combination. I love that Poppy was in prison for two years and that she admits to herself and others that she gets a high from pulling cons. And for Asprey, he has good reason to steal what he is stealing (Part of the fun of the book is figuring out why he steals what he steals so I won’t spoil) but the author gives them an edge. It’s not black and white. The author gives them just enough honest qualities where you understand why they must (or want) steal from people, yet enough naughty qualities that they actually like what they do. They are heroes with a bit of anti-hero vibe. The author took a chance with this and it worked for me.
Yes, Poppy moans about being an ex-con but the reality is – she doesn’t have a lot of options. She is poor, she has to look after her friend who has a baby. I suppose she could have given up getting revenge in the name of her grandmother and tried to do something else with her life but where is the fun in that? LOL.
What else bothered you about this book? I found myself laughing many times – did you find it amusing at all?
May: Hold up, I’ll agree with you first. agree that it was nice that Asprey was very much a beta guy, and he wasn’t stereotypical anything. I also will agree with you that the author got deep into the grey zone about right and wrong and all of that, and I appreciated having characters that were nothing out of the ordinary. My problem is that I never felt like we saw reasons to be rooting for these characters. I wanted to, but Poppy has such a chip on her shoulder I really found it offputting. Asprey with his boo hoo nobody takes me seriously also grated on my nerves. I think she could have given them each something redeeming or at least positive. Some reason to believe they’re not just crooks looking for a way to justify their lifestyles.
I like Tamara Morgan’s voice, and at times it was amusing (the whole coffee maker feud rocked), but beyond having an unusual set up and characters I didn’t find a great story here. It wasn’t a complicated heist, there wasn’t great emotional depth, I didn’t laugh out loud from the hilarity, and it also wasn’t over the top with suspense or anything else. It was just a very bland read for me, one of those where it isn’t a bad book, but you don’t love it either. It just wasn’t a love match for me.
I am curious to know what you think of Graff. I really liked him so much at the start and by the end he had me even more intrigued.
Mandi: First – the coffee maker feud was awesomesauce. I thought they both had redeeming qualities. They are coming from a good place, just with a messy past to deal with. I found them warm, charming and their flirty, sexy ways just pulled me in. Now to Graff. Graff is the stern, stressed out, brother of Asprey who I was obsessed with the entire book. He is set-up to not be liked, but that is my favorite type of hero. Because one day he is going to be the hero of a book, and I’m dying to read it. He is so cranky, and you never know if you can really trust him – and even at the end of the book he is still a mystery, but that is fine with me.
My only real complaint in this book is the end. I feel like it drags on a bit too long and I didn’t like how some of the final scenes play out. It felt like it became too complicated and didn’t flow with the feeling of the rest of the book. Otherwise I found this book totally charming and different.
I give it a B
May: I love cranky, and I was very much team Graff on this read. I am interested to see what his story will be, and if I will still like him in a starring role. As this story ended I found myself dissatisfied by the outcomes of the heists, and I did not think in any way that was it a happy ending. In fact, the choices made really solidified my dislike of these characters. While it wasn’t a book that I enjoyed, I can see why it worked for you Mandi.
I give it a C+