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REVIEW: “All In with the Duke” by Ava March


About: London, 1822

Max Arrington, the Duke of Pelham, vows to never again let a handsome face blind him to a man’s true intentions. But ten months of celibacy and lonely nights drive him to a decadent brothel, where a beautiful young man arouses his illicit passions as never before.

Tristan Walsh has grown tired of being used for men’s pleasure. But his latest client is different: commanding yet generous, Max makes him feel cared for as well as wanted. Yet Tristan knows he’ll never have the choice to leave the brothel and submit only to Max.

So when Max invites him to be his guest at his country estate, Tristan eagerly agrees to his terms—days to do as he pleases while Max tends to the dukedom, and nights spent together in wicked play. But when the “business arrangement” begins to deepen into something more, Tristan must face the fact that he has no true place in Max’s life—or in Max’s guarded heart…


I don’t think any of you know this (or even care-ha!), but I’m not a stranger to Historical novels. In the days before e-readers I ploughed my way through all the Stephanie Laurens novels my local library had to offer (which was a lot!) and when those ran out, I devoured all the Lisa Kleypas ones, and then all the Julia Quinn ones and then all the …okay, you get the idea. I loved this stuff, so I overindulged and …I burned out.  Years later and it would appear that I am being coaxed back to the genre with M/M books like Blessed Isle and this authors other work Thief. The illicit taboo of gay relationships in the Regency/Victorian era is certainly becoming a compelling device … well, usually.

Now, All in for the Duke was nice. It was fine. I liked it …enough. I’m just not that excited about it. It’s the typical new age Cinderella Benderella type trope:  The Duke rescues the prostitute from a life of service and exploitation. He whisks the beautiful creature away to his great big Manor home whereby said creature will serve to keep the lonely Duke’s bed warm at night. No strings, no attachments, it’s a win-win arrangement for both Duke (Max) and lovely creature (Tristan) But does it last? Will their sizzling chemistry (which neither have experienced the likes of before) and compatibility (shared penchant for kink) in the bedroom lead to forbidden feelings that neither man can switch off?

Now many readers love this book and I CAN see why. The characters have the potential to get under your skin and feed on your empathy. But my problem is that …well, I know this story; it’s one I’ve read many, many times before. *Tips hat to Rose (the saucy old minx) down the library who rec’d Stephanie Laurens & co*

Max is the kind of man who is seriously stoic, with a commanding presence, unyielding in his convictions – just like a Duke should be. I liked him a lot! So when he affects an uncharacteristic grovelling desperation for Tristan I felt the realism of the plot dissolving into fairy tale land. His behaviour is too much at odds with his character AND his status. Tristan is well, a bit of an ungrateful air head to be honest. Does the man not know how lucky he is! He landed a duke for gawds sakes and it’s not good enough?!  Pfft …yeah right. Again we tripped into fairy tale land.  And totally off topic now: I have to wonder how Max maintains his broad shouldered, muscled physique with ripped belly when all he does and has done for the last 6 years is sit at his desk. Hmm?

Okay, so those are my niggles and really, they are niggles because I feel that his was made for the diehard romance reader who would prefer to sacrifice period realism for a glorious happy ending and that’s not me, not anymore.  I don’t want to put you off because this book is well written, erotically charged and many readers adore these characters too. I overall liked this one and will recommend it despite MY niggles.



Ami: 4 Stars 


Title: All in with the Duke
Author: Ava March
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages: 210
Release Date: 11 November 2013
Purchase Links: Carina Press, Amazon.com, Amazon UK

10 comments on “REVIEW: “All In with the Duke” by Ava March

  1. s0ph1ar0s3
    January 10, 2014

    I really like this writer’s other stuff and I’m good with a fairy tale like story now and then to mix up the realism. Thanks for sharing!


  2. katinka
    January 10, 2014

    “So when he affects an uncharacteristic grovelling desperation for Tristan I felt the realism of the plot dissolving into fairy tale land. His behaviour is too much at odds with his character AND his status. ”

    Thanks for reading this one! I personally always have a difficult time dealing with out of character behavior, especially when that behavior takes a disappointing turn.


  3. Tracy
    January 10, 2014

    Great review! I think I will try this one. I love historicals, and have not yet been overtaxed with its tropes. (I can totally see if you’ve read a lot of the genre, how things can become same-same though.)


    • syleegurl
      January 12, 2014

      I’ve been eyeing Ava March since I’ve gotten on my Historicals kick. I’ll give this one a go too.

      Tracy, have you read Joanna Chambers Enlightenment series? Soooo good!


  4. Ami
    January 10, 2014

    Well, I loved this one and I wasn’t a historical fans. Maybe that was why I enjoyed it better than you, Shells..


  5. Heather C
    January 10, 2014

    Oh I loved this one! Ava March is an auto buy author for me, but I think this was longer than her norm so it drug out a little. Looking forward to the next in the series


    • syleegurl
      January 12, 2014

      auto-buy, huh? Yes, I have really wanted to read something from her. Heather, is this the one you’d recommend I try first or is there another you liked even better from this author?


      • Heather C
        January 12, 2014

        His Client is my favorite. If you want extra kinky…read her Bound series


  6. shelley
    January 10, 2014

    I’m not going to let one little hiccup deter me, which was probably me being overly picky. I have the Joanna Chambers (hope I spelled that right?) books which I am looking forward to. And I did love Thief by this author so I’m not giving up on her either. She’s good.


    • syleegurl
      January 12, 2014

      Joanna Chambers’ series is SOOO GOOD! I know you’ll love it. It has that same ‘swept away by romance’ feel that Blessed Isle does. But it’s injected w/ some mystery and danger! :)


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This entry was posted on January 10, 2014 by in Genre, Historical, Reviewer: Shelley and tagged , , , .

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