A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
Life hasn’t been easy for Marco De Le Santo. He’s spent the last eight years raising his young brothers and sister. At the age of twenty-four, Marco finally has the chance to explore his feelings for Kent Baker, his boss. He knows Kent thinks he’s a playboy, but Marco’s finally ready to tell his friend the truth about his secret life. What would Kent say if he knew Marco came with three kids under the age of eighteen?
Kent Baker has watched Marco since the day he stepped into his office. As owner of a construction company, Kent has seen his share of good-looking men, but none of them hold a candle to Marco. Kent has waited years for Marco to grow up and realise there’s more to life than partying and random men, but with each year passing year, he becomes bitter.
When Marco finally opens up to Kent, will his boss be angry at the deception or can they build a future that includes Marco’s, already, Full House?
Full House is the fifth and last installment of Carol Lynne’s Poker Night series. Each story has covered 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, or in this case, the final two “friends,” Marco and Kent.
Full House opens to mason Marco coming home to fighting younger brothers, a scared baby sister, and the news his good-for-nothing, abusive, thug of a father is back in town looking to “reconnect.” He has had a difficult life raising his family by himself and few people know what he really does on his time off. One of his only outlets is the bi-weekly poker game with his friends, but even there he has problems as boss Kent, to whom he’s been attracted for years, thinks the worst of him and doesn’t hesitate to call him on it every chance he gets. He would love to be with Kent, but it’s obvious that he isn’t good enough for the wealthy man. Kent may have every creature comfort, but he is lonely and wanting nothing more than to settle down with someone special. He has spent the last eight years watching Marco grow up as a respected employee, secretly wanting him while hating Marco’s assumed “lifestyle” of partying and sleeping around — or so he thinks. When the truth all comes out, can both of their dreams come true, or are the challenges too great?
As the series comes to a close, I surprised myself by finding that I liked this book the best. Yes, it was predictable and perhaps a bit saccharine at times, but it worked for me. I think part of it is because both credible and sympathetic protags are known quantities from reading the other stories, that they have known each other for a very long time, and though the relationship movement was fairly quick here, the feelings they both have are not insta-whatever in nature, as some of the other installments have been.
I was prepared to have some problems because I was sure that the turn-around in emotion for these two, once the truth was out, would be unbelievable. They have bickered for years at the poker games over Kent’s pre-disposed notion of what Marco is about and I had difficulty thinking that the author would be able, especially based on the way some of the other books were executed, to make a change in their relationship and interaction without me rolling my eyes. I thought she was successful, however, as the character development, self-reflection and conversation between Marco and Kent was deeper here than in previous books — definitely a welcome change.
The external conflict with Marco’s father didn’t feel forced or implausible, and the resolution worked as well as it could have for me, and I thought Marco’s siblings were realistic.
One thing: based on my review of Different Suits, Angelo seems to have gone back to his “old,” tougher personality in this book, which felt odd.
Full House is a tidy wrap-up for the series, and the book I liked the best. Ultimately, the series had ups and downs for me, but with the bookends of installments one and five, one I feel I can recommend picking up.