Review: All In with the Duke (Gambling on Love #1) by Ava March

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 love Regency romances. What's not to love?
Being foxed?

Seriously. I would rock the hell outta that. Every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

True, the sexual repression puts a damper on things, but he's a Duke! Money talks.

Maxwell Robert Michael Arrington, Viscount Shelburne, the Earl of Hertford, and the ninth Duke of Pelham is, by all outward indications, one stodgy fellow. It's always the quiet ones. He's taciturn and isolated in his dukedom. Works all the time. You know what they say about all work and no play. Makes for a grumpy grumperton.

Max's friend, Rawlings, encourages him to work off some steam at Mrs. Rubicon's, a brothel, where he meets Tristan. Lovely Tristan. *sigh* Tristan takes Max's breath away with his lithe beauty and delicate visage. However, underneath that dandy of an exterior lies a spine of steel. He's unflappable and uncowed by Max's intimidating presence.

I loved the synergy of their relationship. Tristan brings out the best in Max, encourages him to live his life rather than toil away behind a desk endlessly punishing himself for a stupid, adolescent outburst. Max tries to resist the lure of Tristan's affable and intoxicating personality, and he does a good job of maintaining his stoicism much longer than most would've lasted against Tristan's considerable charms. Max gives Tristan the confidence to rise above his appointed station in life.

This is my first encounter with Ms. March and I went straight into Sharp Love (book 2 of this series); that's how much I loved this story. These two characters… I fell in love with them. They're both so well developed and their story is so compelling, I sunk right into it and didn't want to leave. I fell in love with this world she's created. I actually was hoping there would be a book about Morgan, Max's driver and man Friday. Guess what? Sharp Love is Morgan's book. YEEEEEEEE!

I loved how Max met Tristan on his terms. I loved how verbal they were, the lack of dramatics, that Max never condescended to Tristan, and how he evolved and blossomed with Tristan, but I particularly loved that Tristan held his ground. He didn't capitulate the minute Max showed up on his doorstep.

Don't EVEN get me started on these two in the bedroom… HOLY MOTHER! 

He wanted Max's bare skin beneath his hands. Wanted to have all that power and strength crouched above him, driving into him, driving him to the edge and shoving him over it.

I have a friend who says we don't really talk about what sex scenes turn us on, we just that the sex was 'hot', so in the interest of full disclosure. The kink level is mild with some bondage, edging and spanking, but oh, the way Tristan begs… will melt your tires. I like kinky. This is not news, but one thing that really gets me is when the dominant puts his submissive in bondage and bottoms. It was my favorite scene in Fettered and here. Scorching. Something about a submissive begging to come while fucking his dominant is… yeah. 

I would highly recommend All In with the Duke. It's beautifully written with superb character development. The story did lull for me a bit in the middle, but it didn't last long and in the grand scheme of things it didn't detract from my loving this book to pieces.


  1. Well your review surely gets the blood flowing...*growls* Excellent review, Cupcake.

    P.S. A few steel rods inserted into the neck would be needed to rock that 'do methinks.

  2. It was amaze balls!

    Cupcake would rock it with a posture collar for neck support.

    *eyebrow wiggle*