Thursday, March 1, 2012

All Bets Are Off

Title: All Bets Are Off
Author: Marguerite Labbe
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-61372-252-7
Genre: {M/M}, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph 

Eli loves living and working in a small town.  He loves the feeling of being surrounded by family, as well as the calmness it provides.  The fact that his job as a professor at the local college gives him plenty of time to enjoy his love of hiking and camping is an added bonus.   But Eli is starting to feel lonely and his habit of picking the right guy at the wrong time looks like it’s going to continue when he meets Ash. 

All Bets Are Off was a fast-paced read that pulls you in from the very beginning.  The characters are strongly written and the chemistry between Eli and Ash just pours out.  The author uses the fact that Eli and Ash have to work around the issues that arise because of the teacher/student conflict to engage the men in a lengthy period of foreplay.   This, of course, leaves both men aching and awaiting the end of the semester.   I love this connection between the men.  Not only does the passion come through clearly, but so does the friendship that develops between them.   Ash is a Marine who feels guilty for leaving his former squad behind after he was shipped home, due to injuries.  While he has put most of his guilt aside, it comes back after the remaining members of his team are hit.  The emotions Ash goes through come across realistically and had me close to tears.  That the author used this episode to bring the men even closer together is not surprising. 

The author has also woven a variety of conflicts into the story.  Not only do the men have to deal with the head of the English Department out to get Eli, but there is also the problem of someone breaking in and searching Eli’s home and office.  To round everything out, the men continue to battle their growing feelings for each other. 

While I have read one or two of Ms. Labbe’s books, All Bets Are Off has become my favorite.  This is one story I have no problem recommending and will be reading it again in the future.

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