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High Stakes

by Toshia Shaw

Reviewed by Delonya Conyers and QB Wells
January 2011


High Stakes is a gripping and fast paced drama guaranteed to expose the cunning and slick nature of the real,"Sin City,"giving you a peek inside the shrewd world, exposing the myth: What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas. Shauna, Dawn, and Felicia are best friends who are bonded as "partners in crime" while trying to survive in Las Vegas, Nevada aka Sin City. Their friendship quickly begins to unravel when Jeffrey, Dawn's fiancé, enters the picture. Although happy for their friend, Shauna and Felicia quickly begin to question the validity of their friendship when they aren't allowed into Dawn's new picture perfect life. Desperate to keep her old lifestyle a secret from her fiancé, Dawn comes up with an elaborate scheme to make sure she weds Jeffrey at any cost, but Jeffrey attends a bachelor party where he meets, and instantly falls for, the naive and beautiful Shauna, and he and Dawn's relationship becomes compromised.

Reviewed by: Delonya Conyers

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Las Vegas aka Sin City is the setting for Author Toshia Shaw's aptly titled book High Stakes. Shauna, Dawn and Felicia are friends whom all work at the various strip clubs that line Las Vegas' notorious strip. None of the women are originally from Las Vegas. Different circumstances brought each of them to Sin City and into the world of exotic dancing. Dawn hailed from New York and was only dancing as a means to pay for school. Felicia was originally from Memphis and ran away to escape a broken heart. Initially headed to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming an actress Felicia impulsively stops in Las Vegas to try and become a showgirl. While Shauna relocated from Detroit to be closer to her incarcerated boyfriend, Tony, and began stripping to provide for his herself and their son until he was released from prison.

At the onset of the book Dawn is engaged to a wealthy business man that she met on campus and is no longer stripping. In hopes that her fiancé, Jeffery never discovers her past Dawn is not only willing to sever all ties with Felicia and Shauna but she's even willing to disown her own mother whom she feels is not sophisticated enough to meet her future husband. Shauna's baby daddy Tony is out of jail but is content at wasting away at home letting Shauna work the poles to provide for their family. Tony's fragile ego leads him to abuse Shauna whenever he sees fit because he can't stand the attention she garners from other men while working those same poles. While Felicia's past heartache has her fully focused on her paper and she's willing to go all out to maintain her glamorous lifestyle.

The drama ensues when Dawn's fiancé Jeffery inadvertently meets Shauna at a bachelor party for one of his friends. Jeffery sees past Shauna's beauty into her sad soul and befriends her. However the friendship deepens as they both grow feelings for one another. Shauna knows that Jeffery is engaged to be married she's just unaware that it's to her friend Dawn. Felicia on the other hand knows exactly who Jeffery is but feeling scorned by Dawn's newfound holier than thou attitude decides to keep quiet and let the chips fall where they may. Besides Felicia has her own battle to face when her paper chase leads her down a dark and destructive path.

The storyline to High Stakes seemed too simplistic at times with a formula that has been seen one too many times when a book centers around a group of female friends. Although Mrs. Shaw failed to bring anything new to the formula the book is still entertaining and works well as a cautionary tale about the perils of the adult entertainment industry.

What did you like about the book?
The Las Vegas locale worked well with the theme of the novel.

What did you dislike about the book?
The characters and the storyline were too typical of those found in African-American fiction.

What could the author do to improve the book?
Mrs. Shaw is a promising author who would benefit from more creative storylines.

Reviewed by: QB Wells

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"They are who we thought they were!" –Dennis Green

After reading several mundane urban fiction titles starring three-women cliques, the stakes were high when I read the debut novel High Stakes by Toshia Shaw. Reading most of the books, I rolled craps. High Stakes I hoped would make a point.

Felicia, Dawn, and Shauna all work as dancers at the Gold Room Club. The ladies get along fine until Dawn stops going to work because she snags Jeffrey, a man with money. Dawn no longer needs the club to finance her college education, lifestyle or her relationships with Felicia or Shauna. Dawn schemes a way to deceive her friends and family to keep Jeffrey from learning of her stripper past. At a party, Jeffrey is introduced to Shauna and yearns to know more about her. Shauna suffers from personal and home problems. With a lame man at home, she suffers from low self-esteem, domestic violence and drug abuse. Felicia, the most dynamic character, is tested with her own set of issues provide needed highlights to the story.

High Stakes author Shaw manages to spin a quick narrative of jealousy, deceit and drama. Though the read is quick, the characters show little growth and the story plot is dotted with clichés.

Who thought that three women from Sin City would be strippers looking for tricks to transition their life to a housewife? The real sin was that there were no characters that were anything more than deceitful women that would drop everything in their life for a man.

Readers that enjoy narratives where women need a man at all costs: High Stakes is a cash winner.  Readers looking for entertainment and a creative point of their reading may crap out.

What did you like about the book?
I liked that the book had a twist.

What did you dislike about the book?
Stereotypical characters that had little depth.

What could the author do to improve the book?
Add more originality to characters and storyline.

The views expressed in published reviews are solely those of the reviewer. The Urban Book Source cannot be held accountable. The information featured, represents that of the reviewer and not that of The Urban Book Source. The reviewer takes full responsibility for the information presented.

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