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I’m a fan of Amy’s writing style and have thoroughly enjoyed the stories I’ve read of hers so far. In fact, I’ve actually listened to most of them rather than reading them. For me, Beneath the Stain, The Locker Room, and Chase in Shadow particularly stand out as superb pieces of gay romance literature; all high on the angst scale and with memorable characters.
Gomez Pugh is also one of my favourite narrators. I adore his voice and the terrific way he performs every story I’ve listened to. His husky voice for Quent is low and growly, and so, so sexy. His pace and technique are spot on here and added to my enjoyment of the story.
I love stories that show the slow build of a relationship and Amy’s stories always work wonders with this. Jace and Quent are two very different personalities, but they gel together wonderfully. It’s a friends to lovers story. The guys have been friends for the best part of eight years and at the beginning of this story that changes to something more. So, most of the story focuses on them learning to be in a relationship as they continue to work with each other and spend time with their friends. Their connection is possessive and intense, with the chemistry sizzling between them. It’s out and out hot and steamy with lots and lots of sex scenes. The sex in the stationery cupboard/print room was smoking. There’s also some lovely, slightly angsty moments as they forge their way along the relationship pathway. I especially like how needy Jace becomes and the effect the fear of losing Quent has on him. Gah! I love these deep and raw emotional scenes. By the end of the story, I could see these guys still being together when they are in the eighties. Partners for life and forever. And Quent is such a considerate and caring partner.
So, the story is mostly about them dealing with something that is new and different for them both. They grow as a couple and sort out their problems. There’s no major miscommunication or fall outs. I love how Jace’s character changes and adapts with regard to his feelings and responses to Quent over the course of the story. Yes, things happen to these guys, but there’s no overriding conflict apart from their budding relationship. But I suppose that’s true to life for most couples.
The interaction with the friends at their poker games and colleagues at work added humour and helped to lighten the story. I enjoyed the funny banter between the MCs and loved the way they came out to these two groups of people.
The idea of poker/card metaphors was a clever one, but due to frequent use they lost their effect after a while. Yes, they were gambling men and the game dominated their life and conversations as it seemed to help them communicate their feelings, and eventually even they make fun of their 'life is poker' meme. They certainly made good use of the poker table and the sexy card games!
It became clear as I listened that each section of the story was part of a serialized project. The novel comes across as long scenes joined together to create an overall story. Beneath the Stain also started out in a similar fashion and each of the seven separately published parts were eventually joined as one to make a novel. I think this results in detailed and well developed sections of the story and works well for Amy’s writing style.
As always, the writing is excellent and the dialogue absorbing and realistic. Gambling Men is different from most of the other Amy Lane books I’ve read. The intensity of the connection between the MCs is the main focus of the story and this is what I love most. I enjoyed listening to this story and will definitely listen again.
Review also published on Gay Book Reviews.
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Quent and Jason have been best friends since their college days. They are partners in every way except romantically, until one day Jace realizes that the one person he cannot live without is the one person who’s been living side-by-side with him all along.
Once they start their romantic relationship, Quent puts it all on the line, ready to have the life he’s always wanted with Jace. Jace quickly goes all in and the story chronicles their relationship through all it’s initial stages, rocky moments, mega-hot sexy times, and loving, romantic moments.
I really liked that Gambling Men is less angst-filled than most of Lane’s other stories. The characters enjoy real growth in the story without being put through any terrible wringers. I loved the side characters and the way Quent and Jace burn up the sheets. Finally, I absolutely loved and adored Gomez Pugh’s narration.
Gomez Pugh has never once let me down - he always gives an excellent performance that keeps me riveted.
There were two things that kept this from being a full knock-it-out-of-the-park story for me though. The overuse of all the gambling metaphors (I get it, okay? It’s “Gambling Men”, but come on…) and, ultimately, I kind of felt like it went on just a smidgeon too long.
Ultimately though, the story is a sweet, low angst, lovely romance with SUPER HOT sex and fabulous narration.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful