Poker Night: Different Suits

Title: Poker Night: Different Suits
Author: Carol Lynne
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Novella
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn

THE BLURB

Angelo Pilato’s worked hard to overcome his upbringing. Born in the rough part of the city, he had two choices, learn to fight or learn to talk your way out of confrontation. He isn’t prepared to deal with a man like the sexy detective in charge of his friend’s case.

Moody Torrence is vastly different than any man Angelo’s ever been attracted to. Stubborn and bossy don’t begin to describe Moody’s personality and those are his positive qualities.

Moody hasn’t the time or energy to put up with sissies. He may be gay, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less the Alpha he was born to be. Within minutes of meeting Angelo Pilato, Moody both hates and wants him. There’s nothing more he’d like to do than bring the prissy man down a few pegs and show him life on the wild side.

How do a quirky neurotic and an unbendable Alpha make a relationship work?

THE REVIEW

Different Suits is the fourth installment of Carol Lynne’s Poker Night series. Each story will cover one of each of a mixed-bag of six gay friends (Zac, Marco, Angelo, Trey, Kent, Bobby) who meet for a bi-weekly Saturday-night poker game. This fourth book is the story of Angelo and tough police detective Moody Torrence, plus a set up for the last story in the series.

Set a few weeks after the end of Slow Play (reviewed here), Different Suits opens to Angelo not only feeling like he is being watched and followed after an altercation with a religious zealot during Trey’s attack trial, but also trying to convince himself that he is not missing a certain so-not-his-type — though nonetheless sexy — alpha cop who was a thorn in his side during that investigation. With a hard-earned and -won appreciation for the better things in life, he prefers lithe men with small feet in athletic shoes, so what is it about the giant Neanderthal has him so riled up? Now the feelings of being followed are stepped up with some not-so-harmless harassment, keeping Detective Torrence in the picture. Juan “Moody” Torrence has been attracted to the tough Angelo since they first met during Trey’s investigation, impressed by how Angelo doesn’t take crap from him even at his size and demeanor. Is there some way he can convince him to take a chance and still keep him safe from the harassment of a crazy homophobe?

I had mixed feelings about this book. On the whole, I thought it was somewhat more even in pace and plot — including the usual higher-than average amount of smexxin — than the other books, but there were issues.

I like Angelo. In the previous installments, he’s a firecracker who doesn’t take crap from anyone and is an enigma. His friends, though they have been playing poker with him for years, still don’t have a clear picture of him, and outside of the teasing about his footwear fetish, can’t say much about his true personality, nor his history. Slow Play allowed us — and a few of the poker buddies — in theory, to get to know him just a bit better as he plays a bigger role there, but my thought was that we would get a deeper understanding of what makes him tick with this one since, well, it’s his story.  I don’t feel I really got it; after reading Different Suits, I am a bit surprised as his seemingly true personality isn’t what I thought it would be and I don’t think I got a good enough reason why.

I think I was taken by surprise at Angelo’s true nature — or at least how he acts through most of the story — and part of that is because it happens seemingly suddenly. Here is a man who is a façade, which wasn’t necessarily the problem, it’s just that it happens so quickly and seemingly out of nowhere. It’s as if he had a personality transplant, and it carries over through much of the book. It felt to me that the confidence and toughness he has displayed throughout the series all but disappeared, and in its place are smiles and sweet kisses and uncertainty and almost submission. He does wonder at times why he is both attracted to Moody, who is everything he doesn’t like, and thinks about liking the change of having someone else take care of him, but there is little other insight into the abrupt turn-around, and I found it very odd.  It also meant that conflict between the two with how different they are — something built up in the previous book — seemed like it wasn’t there.

The obvious chemistry that carried over from book three, which leads to early charged interactions here, worked okay, but there is an element of insta-relationship that had my head spinning. They think of each other as “lovers” and “boyfriends” just about  from the first time they have sex. This is a feeling I think I’ve felt throughout the series.

A couple of smaller niggles:

I have difficulty believing that Angelo would have the repercussions he had over his orientation living and working in the Bay Area, a theme that I felt also has been carried over throughout these series. And somehow Trey got his job back (?), though we’re not told how or why. I found the “mystery” (Angelo being targeted because of his actions from last book) aspect resolve a bit…odd, improbable and a little lame.

One last, bigger issue: there are several major editing errors that I felt were inexcusable, and in some ways, made more of a difference to me than the lack of region fact checking I harped on in past books. In fact, I was so thrown that I brought down my rating a quarter star for it. In Slow Play, Moody’s last name is spelled “Torrance;” here it is “Torrence.” There are also three, blatant instances where characters were given wrong names (“Julian” for “Jules,” “Mario” for “Marco,” and “Ken” for “Kent”). It felt completely sloppy to have been allowed to go to print as is.

OVERALL

In the end Different Suits was on par with the rest of the books in the Poker Night series, though with some inconsistent characterizations and some editing problems. Series readers will want to include it. The last book, Full House, is the finally story of Marco and Kent, who have been at each others’ throats the entire series, and is being released tomorrow, January 10.  Look for my review then.

Aunt Lynn

Wave, these are her characters, and not only single book characters, either. There is no excuse for the wrong names. And yes, inconsistency contributed to my disappointment.

Wave

Lynn
Editing errors drive me nuts. It doesn’t matter how well written a book happens to be, that takes away from the enjoyment of the story.

*
It’s too bad about what you felt were some missing elements and inconsistent characterization regarding Angelo, as well as other holes in the story.

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