Title: Gambling Men
Author: Amy Lane and Gomez Pugh (Narrator)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 10th 2016
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: 7 hrs and 18 mins
Reviewed by: Lily G Blunt
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Quent Jackson has followed Jason Spade’s every move in business and in poker since their first day as college freshmen. Eight years later, when Jace finally decides Quent is the one man he can’t live without, he sees no reason for that to change.
But as much as Jace believes that poker is life, no one gave Quent the same playbook. After their first passionate night, the real game of love and trust begins, and Jace has been playing alone too long to make teaching the rules easy. Jace only speaks two languages: one of them is sex, and the other one is poker. Between the two, he needs to find a way to convince himself to take a chance on love – and Quent to take a chance on him. It’s a lucky thing they’re good at reading the odds, because they’re playing for keeps, and this is one high-stakes relationship that’s definitely worth the gamble.
I’m a fan of Amy’s writing style and have thoroughly enjoyed the stories I’ve read of hers so far. In fact, I’ve actually listened to most of them rather than reading them. For me, Beneath the Stain, The Locker Room, and Chase in Shadow particularly stand out as superb pieces of gay romance literature; all high on the angst scale and with memorable characters.
Gomez Pugh is also one of my favourite narrators. I adore his voice and the terrific way he performs every story I’ve listened to. His husky voice for Quent is low and growly, and so, so sexy. His pace and technique are spot on here and added to my enjoyment of the story.
I love stories that show the slow build of a relationship and Amy’s stories always work wonders with this. Jace and Quent are two very different personalities, but they gel together wonderfully. It’s a friends to lovers story. The guys have been friends for the best part of eight years and at the beginning of this story that changes to something more. So, most of the story focuses on them learning to be in a relationship as they continue to work with each other and spend time with their friends. Their connection is possessive and intense, with the chemistry sizzling between them. It’s out and out hot and steamy with lots and lots of sex scenes. The sex in the stationery cupboard/print room was smoking. There’s also some lovely, slightly angsty moments as they forge their way along the relationship pathway. I especially like how needy Jace becomes and the effect the fear of losing Quent has on him. Gah! I love these deep and raw emotional scenes. By the end of the story, I could see these guys still being together when they are in the eighties. Partners for life and forever. And Quent is such a considerate and caring partner.
So, the story is mostly about them dealing with something that is new and different for them both. They grow as a couple and sort out their problems. There’s no major miscommunication or fall outs. I love how Jace’s character changes and adapts with regard to his feelings and responses to Quent over the course of the story. Yes, things happen to these guys, but there’s no overriding conflict apart from their budding relationship. But I suppose that’s true to life for most couples.
The interaction with the friends at their poker games and colleagues at work added humour and helped to lighten the story. I enjoyed the funny banter between the MCs and loved the way they came out to these two groups of people.
The idea of poker/card metaphors was a clever one, but due to frequent use they lost their effect after a while. Yes, they were gambling men and the game dominated their life and conversations as it seemed to help them communicate their feelings, and eventually even they make fun of their life is poker meme. They certainly made good use of the poker table and the sexy card games!
It became clear as I listened that each section of the story was part of a serialized project. The novel comes across as long scenes joined together to create an overall story. Beneath the Stain also started out in a similar fashion and each of the seven separately published parts were eventually joined as one to make a novel. I think this results in detailed and well developed sections of the story and works well for Amy’s writing style.
As always, the writing is excellent and the dialogue absorbing and realistic. Gambling Men is different from most of the other Amy Lane books I’ve read. The intensity of the connection between the MCs is the main focus of the story and this is what I love most. I enjoyed listening to this story and will definitely listen again.