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Poker Night, Volume One by Carol Lynne

Poker Night, Volume One

by Carol Lynne

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Texas Hold 'Em by Carol Lynne

This is the first book in a new series by Carol Lynne, the Poker Night series. As the title suggests, it's the story of a group of six buddyfriends who meet every two saturday at the home of one of them, Zac. All of them is an ordinary man, with an ordinary job, more or less of success, but all of them with a thing in common: they are all gays. What probably the author would like to pass to the reader is that being gay doesn't mean being "different", and above all being a stereotype. Zac, Marco, Kent, Trey, Bobby and Angelo, from different culture and family social status are exactly like all the other single men in the world, they are more or less interesting in having a comfortable house, a nice place where spend time with good friends, and possibly a nice man to share all of it. As Zac said, looking at his garage apartment, being gay didn't automatically turn him in Martha Stewart. But Zac was raised good by his mother and so it's funny to see him reprimand his friends when they "use" his house as a crashing point, and he directs them as a mother hen; Zac is a high school football coach and he has the tendency to be a director also in his private life. And this is the reason why, maybe, when he meets Eric for the first time, he immediately plan an attack strategy, and when he has caught the "prey", he tries to direct him as he does with his friends.

Eric is a young doctor who is doing his internship while at the same time he is trying to pay his student loans. He has also a side job as pizza delivery guy and so he matches the strange hours he does at the hospital with the even more strange hours of the pizza delivery thing. There is something in Eric past, in his family origin, that forced him to behave as a workaholic, and this is not a good thing, since Eric stretches the concept of responsible guy into almost being a maniac. While I actually found a bit overwhelming Zac's tendency to be the dominant partner in their relationship, I found his behavior more excusable than Eric. Zac is a bit insensible, maybe also a bit obtuse, but Eric is totally stubborn; and for a doctor, he is not exactly behaving in an healthy way.

Being this the opening book in a series, other than Eric and Zac's story, we have also a glimpse on the future characters, and from my side, I'm quite interested in reading Trey and Dr Peters' stories (not together, I believe Carol Lynne has two different partners in mind for them). Eric and Zac's story is good, there is a right dose of conflict, that are almost immediately resolved, all the course of the book is very fast, in this respecting Zac's behavior that is, as I said, quite overwhelming. I have the feeling that Zac, other than being dominant in his personal relationship, he is also dominant in his everyday routing: he is the mainstay of all his friends (who, in fact, gather at his house), and so it's right that the first story is about him; I have the feeling that he will be a center characters in all the future stories.

Nice start for a promising series.

Slow-Play (Poker Night 2) by Carol Lynne

The second in the Poker Night series is a nice may / december relationship, even if, apart telling the age of Jules, 43, there are no other hints that Jules is older than is lover Bobby.

Jules is an handsome and lonely doctor, and also a very wealthy man. The money doesn't come from his work but from family; apparently Jules was born in a lovely family and he grew happy and confident. At college he met his first love, and lover, Morgan, and they were fated to be happy together. As all the young people believe, they thought to have a life in front of them, and Jules devoted himself to his studies and career. But when he was only 27 years old, Morgan died in a car accident and Jules was left only with remorse. Worst, both his parents than his sister died for illness, and he, other than with remorse, was left also alone. It's a bad joke of destiny that Jules, a good doctor, was unable not only to save his lover but also his family. From all these tragedies, Jules comes out as a sad but still good man. He is not angry with the world, he is only disappointed of himself. He now devotes all of him to the hospital he works in and when he is at home, to restore old classic car: I don't know, maybe restoring old things that were fated to die gives him some peace, some relief from his sense of guilty.

Bobby is one of Zac's poker night friend. Like Jules he was born in a wealthy family, but unlike Jules, his parents were not supportive of him. He soon detached himself from them and tried to make his living restoring an old yacht to take around tourist. Only that he had money trouble, and his brother bought the leasing from the bank. It's was not a brotherly love gesture, instead he is now treating Bobby as an underpaid employer. After all this, Bobby has not a so good opinion of men coming from money, but Jules seems different. Actually it's not Bobby who brings Jules out of his mourning period, it's Jules who takes the chance to live again and talks Bobby into a relationship.

There are not much contrast between Jules and Bobby, their story flows nicely and easily. I like that the money factor was never a problem and that Jules has never tried to buy Bobby's love, not even unintentionally. The only few troubles between them are aroused by their respective misunderstandings, and they are all things they can work through with a bit of patient. Again the overall feeling is of a series about ordinary men living in ordinary places, the problems are common to most people, money trouble, past mistakes... and the solutions are simple as the problems are. The first two books in the Poker Night series have also a low drama profile, something that maybe will change in the third book, from what I could understand from the closing scene of this one.

  elisa.rolle | Feb 24, 2010 |
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