Review: All In with the Duke by Ava March

Wednesday, November 13

Title:  All In with the Duke*
Author:  Ava March
Series:  Gambling on Love #1
Genre:  Historical MM Romance
Publisher:  Carina Press
Format:  ebook
Date/Year:  November 11, 2013
Reviewed by:  Andrea

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary from the 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…

My Musings:

I love MM romance and I love historical romance, but they usually don’t work when authors try to combine them.  It’s difficult to find a historically accurate story, with a believable gay romance, which ends well.   Ava March is one of the rare authors who can bring it all together.   Let’s face it, British Georgian society was not going to be accepting of an out and gay relationship. That makes it a tricky time period for the genre, but Ava March has found a way to pull it off.

ALL IN WITH THE DUKE is the story of Tristan and Max. Max is “the Duke” and he was badly burned by his last relationship. Basically, his last lover told him lots of pretty lies professing his love but turned out to be a gold digger only interested in Max’s money.  Because of that, Max has lost all faith in love. After months of celibacy, Max is trying to come up with a way to have some sort of a sex life without risking his heart.  He makes the decision to go to a brothel. 

Tristan is the man Max solicits at the brothel.  He is everything Max hoped for and more.  Tristan understands that it is only sex, he seems to really enjoy it with Max, and he has no qualms submitting to Max’s dominance.  Tristan is just as happy with their arrangement as Max.  He actually enjoys the time he spends with Max and can’t ever recall being so excited to see a return client. 

After a violent altercation between Tristan and another client, Max steps in to rescue Tristan. While Max’s interference is well meant, it is disastrous to Tristan’s precarious position at the brothel.  Once again, Max saves the day by offering Tristan an opportunity he cannot refuse.  What starts out as a simple business deal for no-strings sex, becomes a little more dangerous when their hearts become involved.

What I enjoyed about this book was how well the characters were developed. I felt a connection with Tristan and Max, which is surprising because Max is not the easiest guy to get to know. It’s because of that connection with them that I became so invested in their relationship.  I wanted them to be together. I wanted them to find happiness, and I wanted them to find a way to make it work.

ALL IN WITH THE DUKE has everything I look for in a romance. It has just the right amount of angst, it has the strong chemistry I want to see between the couple, and it definitely has the hot sex scenes I want.  Another thing I really enjoyed was that it also has the historical setting I crave but rarely find in M/M romance.  Actually, it kind of reminded me of the first historical romance books I ever read.  It’s romantic fluff, but it was fun and sexy and made me happy.   I’m definitely going to be continuing with this series.


Overall:  4 stars
Sensuality level: 3.5
(Obviously, there is gay sex.  There is also light BDSM.)

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