A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
A pizza delivery never felt so good.
Zac Grainger’s life is pretty quiet. Other than coaching high school football, the only excitement he gets is playing poker with his close friends every other Saturday. That is until he opens the door to the hottest pizza delivery man he’s ever seen, and man, does Zac want a piece of that pie.
Eric Stanton spends long hours as an intern at one of the largest hospital in San Francisco. To help keep a roof over his head, he also has a part-time job as a pizza delivery driver. When a gorgeous customer tries to flirt with him, Eric’s too tired to reciprocate.
Just when Eric wonders if he’ll get a second chance with the guy, an order is placed requesting him personally. Tired or not, perhaps things are looking up.
Texas Hold ‘Em is the first installment of prolific series author Carol Lynne’s Poker Night series, and the first book by this author that I’ve read. 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. Book one is Zac and newcomer Eric’s story, and a basis for the other cast who will ultimately each have their own tale.
Pacifica, California, high school football coach Zac has a great bunch of diverse, single friends who have met at his house every other Saturday to play poker for the last three years. On one such Saturday, he opts for pizza for the boys, only to become instantly enamored with the “tiny little blond Adonis” delivery boy, Eric. Eric, who divides his time between being a medical intern and delivering pizzas for his uncle to make ends meet, has no time for a social life, but Zac is persistent and pursues Eric with tempting offers of home-cooked meals, lots of steamy smexxin and relaxation time that he currently doesn’t have. Only wanting to make Eric’s life easier, Zac unintentionally goes about it a bit heavy-handed and creates some conflict along the way.
Though not without a few niggles, I found Texas Hold ‘Em to be an quick, easy read with lots of sweetness and smexxin, and hopefully a generally good start to the series.
Told through alternating POVs, of I thought both protags were likable and believable. The story is very character-driven, with us getting to know both men — and the others, generally — well through the tale. There are quite a few differences between Zac and Eric, and they are used here to move the plot and story along nicely. Zac is a mother-henner in some ways — even with his friends — a natural protector and rescuer, and Eric needs some assistance, so there is a good match there. Unfortunately Zac is also a bit of a control freak and goes about wanting to take care of Eric in ways that has the prideful other man uncomfortable. Eric wants to need no one and has issues with relying on someone else, but is conflicted because it does feel nice to have someone care of him for a change. Zac sees this and thinks “what if I have to fight Eric for Eric?” There are other differences as well, besides physical (athletic Zac is larger than academic Eric), with Zac being very family-oriented and welcomed by them in every way, and Eric a disappointment in almost every way to his.
Note that, for the length of the story, there is quite a bit of steamy smexxin. Since I am looking for good relationship development within the tales, I hope the smexxin doesn’t take over in other installments.
A very few niggles:
There is an element of almost insta-love here that I am not fond of and I hope that the series doesn’t continue that way. Additionally, there is a conflict point where Zac and Eric are apart for a while and their initial coming back together seemed too easy without the benefit of real discussion of the issue until later in the story.
I unfortunately found several annoying, obvious editing and proofing errors, which at times drew me away from the story, such as using “Champaign” (the city in IL) for “Champagne” (the beverage). Another glaring one comes from living in the San Francisco Bay Area, which makes me sensitive to the capitalization of territories, neighborhoods, etc. “Bay Area” should capped, period, when referring to the approximate 7,000 square miles of geographic region around the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays, and there were multiple instances of that not happening here.
Texas Hold ‘Em is a good start to the series, with both a good tale for Eric and Zac, but also a set-up for some of the other characters’ stories. I hope all of the offerings are like this one. The next story, Slow Play, is of Bobby and Eric’s boss, Dr. Jules Peters, and I’ll be moving on to that now.