Even Odds by Elia Winters is the first book in the Slices of Pi series. As a design manager at PI Games, Isabel Suarez is no stranger to the struggles of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. But when her team attends a gaming convention on the other side of the country, she figures there’s no harm in putting aside her professional demeanor for one weekend to participate in a risqué scavenger hunt. Why shouldn’t she let loose and have a little fun? A careless romp soon turns into more, however, when Isabel ends up having a fling with Caleb Portland, an artist and animator, without knowing he has just been hired to partner with her at her company—and Caleb can’t bring himself to tell her. When they end up coworkers a few weeks later, they need to find a way to work together and keep things strictly professional. Caleb doesn’t want to take on a relationship and risk failure. Isabel doesn’t want to risk ruining the professional reputation she’s worked so hard to develop. But when faced with the undeniable sizzling chemistry between them, will either of them be able to resist temptation?
Even Odds is a fun romance with a whole lot of hot. There is plenty of sex, but the book does not ignore the emotional and realistic aspects of life. Concerns about employment, self-doubt, and personal hang ups are not ignored in the grand scheme of things, which does not always happen in romance with this level of steam. I liked Isabel. she has dealt with issues on the job before, and is super cautious about doing anything to damage her professional image. Caleb is more than ready for a fresh start, but not quite ready for a relationship. The coming together, keeping of secrets, and ultimate explosion between these two is very realistic. Not the choices everyone would make, but easy to see others making them. I liked that none of the characters were perfect, but portrayed as real people, warts and all. I am glad to have discovered this author, and will be exploring her other works.
Even Odds definitely boarders the line of steamy romance and erotica, so those that are not comfortable with that might want to skip it. There is a great deal of character building and growth, and adults that actually talk thinks out (eventually) rather than just ignoring their issues. Realistic situations and characters with some humor made for a fun weekend read.