Friday, November 8, 2013

ARC Review: All In with the Duke (Gambling on Love #1) by Ava March

All In with the Duke (Gambling on Love, #1) Title: All In with the Duke by Ava March
Series: Gambling on Love #1
Genre: M/M Romance, Historical
Expected publication: November 11th 2013 by Carina Press
Length: 350 pages

Rating: 3 Stars
Review Copy Provided by Publisher


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…

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3.5 Stars

Max, the duke of Pelham, goes to the brothel in search of a male companion through the insistence of Viscount Rawling, a friend. In the end, he ends up with Tristan who he shares an interest in BDSM. In their time, m/m relationships are not socially acceptable and Max is always finding ways to be with Tristan without being criticized by society.

Max buys a man's affections to avoid unnecessary attachments because of a bad fallout with his previous boyfriend, Jonathon. He is not considerate of his bed partners and they eventually leave him. He pays Tristan to live with him and be his companion in the countryside. As time past, Tristan succeeds in getting Max to live more and work less. Max's stern temperament changes and reflects a younger, more carefree, and less stressed attitude towards life.

Tristan is a very idealistic and optimistic. When he works in the brothel, he imagines for a fairy tale ending for himself. He wants to believe someone will take him away from the whore house and give him a comfortable life. Later, after he "fell in love" with Max, he strives to make his own future by refusing Max's money and going back to London. He searches of an apprenticeship with a tailor that can lead to a respectable job. However, he gives up this path to accept Max's love again. Personally, I don't see Max as very lovable person and I don't know how Tristan can love him. Tristan just has a sudden revelation that he fell in love with Max.

Max's past relationship with Jonathon ended badly and that is the reason for Max's reservation towards falling in love with Tristan. I feel like the relationship between Max and Jonathon can be clearer. Tristan speculates that Johnathon did love Max and Max goes to confirm it. The reason behind the blackmail and breakup of the relationship is confusing. I would have liked to see more of how Max dealt with the situation.

Rawling also seems like an interesting character with his own romantic interest and story. There is a mystery surrounding this character. He is not mentioned a lot in the story and Max really doesn't know much about him. Max speculates that Rawling is having trouble with managing land and finance and he may also prefer men. However, the book doesn't give an answer to these unknowns.

Overall, this is great story set in London, 1822 and the mentality of the characters and beliefs reflect this time period. The setting is wonderfully done and I can see London and how strict their rules are. The romance between the MCs can be more believable and side characters can be more developed to enrich the story. The pacing is pleasant and the sex scenes are hot. Historical romance fans should definitely give this story a try.

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