Book Review: “Robert & Cybil: The Winning Hand\The Perfect Neighbor” by Nora Roberts

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “Robert & Cybil: The Winning Hand\The Perfect Neighbor” by Nora Roberts! I’ve read some of her books before, and so I’m happy to pick this up to read.

To clarify, before I get into the reviews: This book has two somewhat-short stories. The first half is “The Winning Hand” and the other half is “The Perfect Neighbor.” Each story is short enough to read in about an hour, each.  Because of this, I will rank the romance, character and plot development for each book separately, and take the averages of each category to give an overall rating.

“The Winning Hand”

Summary: “Did you say I won almost two million dollars?”

Running away from her former life and her controlling fiance, Darcy Wallace was down to her last ten dollars. And in the bright lights of a Las Vegas casino, Darcy gambled and won! Suddenly the small-town girl was big news – and in need of protection. Robert MacGregor Blade, the casino owner, was determined to make sure Darcy could enjoy her good fortune. But Darcy knew what she wanted: a chance with Mac himself. And surely her luck was in?”

Character Development: 4 out of 5 stars

Darcy is a very well-developed character from start to finish. She runs away from her controlling, abusive husband Gerald from Kansas and escapes to Las Vegas. In the beginning, she’s very unsure of herself and her good qualities, and she lacks the confidence to stand up for herself. After her surprise-win and Robert’s friends and family basically becoming her newfound family of sorts, however, her confidence starts to grow. And it keeps growing from there. She’s willing to stand up for herself and her independence against both Gerald and Robert when they both doubt the her own ability to make a living for herself, and she develops goals that she wants in life; to have a career she’s always wanted, to eventually get married and have a family, and she’s not willing to let anyone stop her. I rooted for her a lot in this book.

Robert, unfortunately, does not have the same sort of development. In the beginning, he’s perfectly content with his rich life of running the casino (the same one where Darcy won millions of dollars hence how they met) and just doing whatever he wants, using his power to get whatever he wants. It’s clear he develops an attraction to her. However, he suffers from lingering too long on seeing Darcy as fragile, instead of the strong, independent woman that she becomes. Thankfully, he does change his mind and acknowledges her for her strengths and not her vulnerable sides, but he was almost too-stubborn about not acknowledging Darcy changing for me to root for him.

Romance Development: 4 out of 5 stars

Plot Development: 4 out of 5 stars

Given how short the story was, I think the overall plot was well-written. Everything made sense overall, and I do think the happy ending was well-deserved. However, I would’ve liked reading more time for Darcy and Robert to get tknow each other more. They did take some time in the beginning to genuinely get to know each other, especially since Darcy was spending her time at the Robert’s hotel after her casino win to both recover from travelling and also from the fainting incident she had post-winning, but I do think there should’ve been a bit more buildup before they had their first makeout session (which happened approximately four-to-five chapters in), because they’d only just met and known each other for a couple of days at that point in the storyline. I do think the tension of the romance (Darcy learning to be more independent and stand up for herself, and Robert not-quite acknowledging that she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself) was well-written, but I think it carried on a little too long (hence why I rooted less for Robert than Darcy). However, it was overall well-written despite that.

Overall rating for “The Winning Hand:” 4 out of 5 stars!

“The Perfect Neighbor”

Summary: “In New York, people were supposed to ignore their neighbours. But that was a rule that Cybil Campbell had never learned. When the sunny brunette knocks on her new neighbour’s door, she expected that they would make a connection – after all, she knew everyone else in the apartment block. Preston McQuinn wasn’t interested in small talk. He was in Manhattan to finish a job and leave as quickly as possible – until Cybil’s sweet nature and big green eyes captured his interest. Cybil was intrigued by her mysterious new acquaintance – but what would she do when she found out he’d been lying to her from the very first moment they met?”

Character Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Romance Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Cybil and Preston immediately create the “Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl” TV Trope impression (Preston is a very broody and serious type of person while Cybil is cheerier and bubblier in personality). Clearly, this creates clashes in their romance, and also in their individual character development. What I appreciate about their romance, however, is that the two actually take time to talk about how soon they want to go into specific parts of the relationship (like getting physically intimate) and respecting boundaries and such as early as Chapter 4, especially once they realize that they really are interested in each other and want to make things work between them. In fact, much of the plot revolves around the two of them just simply trying to make it work, after they get together. There are misunderstandings that ensue, fights that are fought, but they manage to work things out and get the happy ending they want. I do think the amount of sex scenes were a little gratuitous, though, and took away from the main plot.

Plot Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I’ll be honest—the main plot revolves around the romance of Cybil and Preston and nothing else, which I wasn’t surprised by due to the short length of this story. There isn’t much else to it, otherwise. It mainly consists of the two simply trying to work out their newfound relationship and all the bumps that go along with it.There are some continuity bits, which I’m sure would make more sense if I read the related books, but it didn’t distract me from the main plot, which is a good thing.

Overall rating for “The Perfect Neighbor:” 4 out of 5 stars!

My overall rating for “Robert & Cybil: The Winning Hand\The Perfect Neighbor” by Nora Roberts is…3.75 out of 5 stars!

This is definitely a fun duo of stories to pick up for a quick read, some nice romance, and happy endings!

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