Gambling on Love series
- All In With the Duke (book #1) – in this review
- Sharp Love – (book 2) – expected June 2014 (It’s Jack Morgan’s story!)
- Viscount’s Wager (book #3) – expected December 2014
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Max Arrington, the Duke of Pelham, vows to never again let a handsome face blind him to a man’s true intentions. But ten months of celibacy and lonely nights drive him to a decadent brothel, where a beautiful young man arouses his illicit passions as never before.
Tristan Walsh has grown tired of being used for men’s pleasure. But his latest client is different: commanding yet generous, Max makes him feel cared for as well as wanted. Yet Tristan knows he’ll never have the choice to leave the brothel and submit only to Max.
So when Max invites him to be his guest at his country estate, Tristan eagerly agrees to his terms—days to do as he pleases while Max tends to the dukedom, and nights spent together in wicked play. But when the “business arrangement” begins to deepen into something more, Tristan must face the fact that he has no true place in Max’s life—or in Max’s guarded heart…
So what did I think?
I was going to say that I don’t read a lot of historical romance and those of you who follow my reviews may know that. So I thought I’d do a quick check and see how much ‘not a lot’ was. I was absolutely astounded to see that I have under 100 historical books on my shelves and more importantly, of the 816 m/m romance books I have read, only 3 have been classified as historical. Maybe I’ve made an error classifying some but even if I had erroneously classified quite a few, it still wouldn’t mean I’ve read that many!
The other thing that surprised me was how much I like this book! Which leads me to think that maybe I should be adding and reading much more of this style of story and I will definitely be reading the next in the series.
I was really impressed with this book. It is set in 1822 and both London and the countryside provide the backdrop to the story. There is a real sense of the time and place with the contrasting lifestyles of the aristocracy (Max is a Duke after all) and the harder life of a prostitute working off gambling debts. However this is a story strongly focused on the relationship between the two men.
Max, the Duke, is a man with power and wealth. He is a young man burdened by his responsibility, not living his life to its full potential. He is weighed down by guilt and pressure to succeed at running his Dukedom. After a failed relationship, and now untrusting of giving his heart away, Max meets Tristan who works at a house of ill repute. It only takes a couple of encounters for them to become smitten. Tristan, a poor country boy, moved to the city but gambling debts result in him being beholden to the brothel owner. When Max rescues him from a violent situation, they begin a journey of learning to trust, but a difficult journey due to the terms of their agreement.
Max and Tristan are perfect together physically. The sex in this story is sizzling and wonderfully written and plays a key role in the storytelling. However it is the development of the characters that really shone through – Max dealing with his trust issues and learning to enjoy his life and Tristan overcoming his fierce sense of pride to accept what Max can provide if they are to have any type of life together.
My only minor negative comment about the story was the ending. It was a happy ending, or as happy an ending can be for two men living in an age where they can’t openly be together, but it seemed a little flat. I would have preferred it to end with a bang!
I am now very much looking forward to the next installment!
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
To find out more about Ava March and her books visit her website.