Title: Gambling Men
Author: Amy Lane
Cover Artist: DWS Photography
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: 208 pages
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Lasha
Summary Review: An interesting concept, but ultimately the book fell flat for me in the long run.
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.
One of my favorite all-time m/m books is The Locker Room by Amy Lane, a book I cannot recommend more highly. Since I’ve read that novel, however, it seems Ms. Lane has moved into two distinctive genres: heavy angst (e.g. Chase in Shadow, Keeping Promise Rock) and lighter, non-angsty (e.g. It’s Not Shakespeare, Super Sock Man) books. In my opinion, Gambling Men fits more into category two.
As I understand it, Gambling Men started out as short stories, which have now been revised and edited into this current form. Since I did not read it in its other format, I can only comment on this novel. As the blurb states, Jace and Quentin have been friends and business partners forever until one night they cross that line into lovers. The book details their love affair for about the first year of their developing relationship.
For this review I am going to underscore what worked for me and what did not work for me, hence my rating. First what worked.
-The relationship between Jace and Quent was flawless. The friends-to-lovers trope in this instance worked perfectly and once the sex got going…call the fire department, as that was a three alarm if ever I saw one!
-The secondary characters, especially Jace and Quent’s friends at their poker games were so funny. I would buy books about them they were that delightful. The friendship and camaraderie between these men flowed easily over the pages and helped move the plot along as Jace and Quent came out to their buddies in a very unique (and fall down funny) way.
-As usual, Ms. Lane is a talented writer and the dialog, plot and chemistry were all there.
-Did I mention the hot sex scenes? Go-Fish will never be the same after reading this book!
Now, what did not work for me.
-The constant poker metaphors. Cute as first, but by 25% in, they were was annoying. The “poker is life” analogy lost its spark early on for me and dragged an otherwise interesting plot down in my opinion. In the end, the poker lingo is what caused me to drop my rating as much as I did.
-How Jace and Quent got together. That came out of left field for me and didn’t work in terms of me believing the beginning of their relationship. However, once the plot got moving, I easily bought into them falling in love over time.
-A little less sex, more plot. While I am contradicting myself as I said earlier the sex was scorching, for me there was too much of it. I wanted more relationship, less bedroom antics…but this could just be me.
Overall, Amy Lane is on my auto-buy list and I still love her books, but Gambling Men just wasn’t one of my favorites. Now, I would recommend it for fans of the author or poker aficionados, but the average m/m reader, I’d have to give it a pass, and pick another book of hers to enjoy.