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★★★★ Sharp Love by Ava March ★★★★

Gambling on Love series

  • All In With the Duke (book #1) – click here for review
  • Sharp Love – (book 2) – in this review
  • Viscount’s Wager (book #3) – expected December 2014

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Sharp Love

 

The Blurb…

London, 1822

William Drake has lived among thieves, bastards and beggars all his life, doing what’s necessary to survive. As a young orphan, that included looking after his best friend, Jack Morgan. But as they grew older, Jack took the honest path, leaving Will behind to fend for himself the only ways he knows how.

When an unsavory errand for his employer brings Jack back to London’s underbelly, he needs Will’s help. It’s there, among the alleys they ran through as children, that the love he’s always felt for Will returns. As their nights together grow hotter, Will discovers something new about his old friend—Jack’s need to serve extends into the bedchamber.

Will has never fully abandoned his dream of escaping London with Jack. But what could the Duke’s driver want with a dishonest cheat like him, beyond a bit of rough sex? It takes the gamble of Will’s life to find out if he can win Jack’s heart…

So what did I think?

4+ stars.

Jack and Will met in a London workhouse when then were 6. Jack had been abandoned by his father. Will was an orphan. For the next 10 years they did everything they could to take care of each other. At 16, they went their separate ways. Now 10 years later at 26, they see each other infrequently. They have grown apart. There is bitterness on both sides for choices the other has made.

To add to the growing resentment, Jack and Will have each always loved the other but assumed the sentiment was not mutual. When things were better between them, neither would admit his feelings for fear of ruining their friendship. This encounter between the two, however, may be their last. Jack has a new life outside of London and Will plans to leave the city as well, forever separating the two. Facing the end of their time together, it seems almost pointless to admit their love only to have their hearts broken.

I loved this story. Ava March is probably my favorite historical MM writer and this is probably my favorite era for MM romances. Though perhaps not historically accurate, her MCs, although discreet in their “preference for men,” never fear persecution. The elimination of that stress from the stories allows for the relationships to develop their own angst due to the choices the MCs have made rather than from outside forces. Knowing that I am not likely going to read about some terrible imprisonment for an MC’s homosexuality, I am better able to relax into the story.

Sharp Love takes place at the same time as the events in All in with the Duke. The tie ins are done with precision without ever feeling forced. Getting to see Max and Tristan again from another perspective was a treat. But I also think that Sharp Love could be read as a stand alone. I don’t say that often with books in a series, but here Jack and Will’s story stood well on its own and not knowing the full details of Max and Tristan’s relationship probably wouldn’t affect a reader’s enjoyment of Sharp Love.

Reviewed by Mishyjo

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To find out more about Ava March and her books visit her website.

Buy Sharp Love  from Amazon.

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★★★★ All In with the Duke by Ava March ★★★★

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

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All In with the Duke (Gambling on Love, #1)All In with the Duke by Ava March

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

London, 1822

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 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.

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To find out more about Ava March and her books visit her website.

Buy All In With The Duke from Amazon.