A middle-age housewife tries to rekindle her relationship with her husband by taking up his hobby of poker, then wins a tournament that puts her on the fast track to the poker championships, putting more pressure on a once-strong, now struggling marriage.
Hoping to find the old magic with her husband, Chris, middle-aged Milwaukee-area wife and mother MJ Boudreaux starts hanging out with him at the local casino, discovering a latent talent for poker. But rather than healing her marriage, her new interest puts even more of a strain on it, especially when she wins a tournament that takes her to Las Vegas. Added stress comes from her teen daughter’s new secrecy, an old nemesis moving to town, and the unexpected and alluring attentions of Doyle, a young poker champion. When Chris refuses to go to Vegas, MJ takes her best friend, and the two have a great girls’ weekend, but as the trip gets more exciting, Chris gets more distant, and though she hasn’t really done anything wrong, suddenly her marriage is in serious trouble. Despite her success in this exciting new world, MJ will have to ask herself what truly matters and what she’s willing to risk to get what she wants. Reichert follows her debut, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake (2015), with another title featuring an engaging plot and excellent storytelling. Reichert has a polished writing style that moves smoothly among scenes from MJ’s past, her courtship with Chris, and their present circumstances. Certain details might raise some eyebrows—like how easily a seemingly strong, happy marriage unravels without any real conversation and how quickly Chris blames MJ and is willing to consider a divorce without taking any responsibility for his own actions. Many of the characters' choices could be good conversation starters for book clubs.
An enjoyable and thought-provoking exploration of a modern-day marriage in midlife crisis.