I am a sucker for a good romance and I admire lesbian romances which are “straight” romances, where the story thrives on the penwomanship of the author, the character development, and the chemistry of the setting and main characters. It is the most difficult romance to write because there is nothing to distract the reader. Nell Stark is one of those authors who have grown into master romance tellers and I am always eagerly awaiting her newest.
All In is set in Las Vegas. But Stark’s take of Las Vegas is the perfect counterpoint to the reader’s expectation: yes, there is glamour, yes, there is glitter, yes, there are high stake, but her two main characters actually work in the world of gambling. This perspective gives us a view, sometimes a rather cynical one, behind the scenes. It sets the perfect stage for the two main characters: Vesper Blake is busy advancing her career as host for high rollers and Annie Jump Navarro is trying to build a name as professional power player by becoming a poker champion. Both are focused, but when they nilly-willy meet a slow, but inexorable dance of mutual attraction and compelling chemistry begins the biggest gamble of both their lives, the gamble to trust in true romance.
It is difficult to tell what I loved most about this book. The writing is very smooth and I love well-written prose. The story was character-driven and the character development was excellent. Both main characters are multi-layered, three dimensional, likable. And although I am no poker player and not into gambling this part is well-told and adds – almost like a character on its own – a lot of substance and credibility to the story and gives ample opportunity to drive the story. And though sex is an expected part of a romance, Nell Stark has added exceptional love scenes which exceed expectation: they are at the same time tender and hot and very expressive.
All In is Nell Stark’s best romance yet and an exceptional read. Well done!
You can download a sample or purchase All In by clicking here.