Author: Ava March
Publisher: Carina Press
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
From the Publisher:
William Drake has lived among thieves, bastards and beggars all his life, doing what’s necessary to survive. As a young orphan, that included looking after his best friend, Jack Morgan. But as they grew older, Jack took the honest path, leaving Will behind to fend for himself the only ways he knows how.
When an unsavory errand for his employer brings Jack back to London’s underbelly, he needs Will’s help. It’s there, among the alleys they ran through as children, that the love he’s always felt for Will returns. As their nights together grow hotter, Will discovers something new about his old friend—Jack’s need to serve extends into the bedchamber.
Will has never fully abandoned his dream of escaping London with Jack. But what could the Duke’s driver want with a dishonest cheat like him, beyond a bit of rough sex? It takes the gamble of Will’s life to find out if he can win Jack’s heart…
Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: D/s theme and elements, and male/male sexual practices
Sharp Love is book two in the Gambling on Love series by Ava March. It follows on from All In with the Duke. I say ‘follow on’ as the end of All In with the Duke and the majority of Sharp Love run concurrently, the same events just from two different POVs, so to avoid spoilers it’s best to read the two books in order.
My Review of All In with the Duke can be found here http://www.mrsconditreadsbooks.com/?p=15346
In All In with the Duke we got to meet Jack Morgan, His Grace the Duke of Pelhams driver and most trusted man servant, but we didn’t get to find out much about him, that’s because all is revealed in Sharp Love as the story focuses on Jack and his life long friendship with William Drake.
Jack and Will grew up together in the workhouse and the back streets of London. Will using his quick wits and cunning to keep them fed and Jack using his size and strength to keep them safe. It was a perfect partnership that is until Jack walked away from Will into a life of honest service with the Duke, leaving Will behind to fend for himself in the back alleys, Molly houses and gambling halls.
Over the years their paths have crossed occasionally, whenever Jack is on an errand for the Duke and returns to London, and each time Jack remembers why he walked away, how he feared seeing Will dead in a back ally, how he couldn’t handle the worry anymore, and each time he walks away again. This time, with the Duke almost settled with his own heart’s desire could this also be the time for Jack to find the courage to grab his?
I’m a great Ava March fan, I’ve read most of her books but I can honestly say I’ve never met a character of hers that stirred me like Will. He was so lost, so lonely, full of hopeless despair but determined to better himself. He loved Jack, always had, but Jack kept walking away from him, making him feel he didn’t matter, yet every time Jack came to him for help with the Duke’s business Will did what he could, accepting whatever friendship Jack bestowed on him, never letting Jack know how he felt.
Will is a gambler, living by his wit and sharp wiles. We don’t really get to find out why that’s the only job he feels he could do although he refers a few times to that fact that nobody would hire someone like him, so a gambler is what he is. It’s not what he wants to be though, Will is saving all his money so he can leave the city and buy a farm, he just wants a place to call his own, where he can grow his own food and be self-sufficient, never having to rely on anyone else, or watch his back, something he constantly has to do in the back streets and gambling halls of London. I found the fact that Will is growing spinach in his room, just so he can prove to himself that he can grow things, very touching and sweet.
As the Duke pursues his own relationship (covered in All In with the Duke) Jack again finds himself in Will’s company. What starts as a casual re-acquaintance leads to Jack and Will resuming the sexual side of their friendship and taking it much further than ever before, which in turn leads to Jack admitting he wants to be dominated in the bedroom, by Will, something that’s never been broached before. Misunderstanding abound between Jack and Will throughout the story and I sometimes felt they should have just talked to each other, been honest about what they wanted, and how they felt, but both men were too afraid to give voice to their wishes and fears, too afraid of rejection. Will because Jack always walked away from him, as he proved time and time again, and Jack feared ridicule over wanting to submit, after all a big strong man like Jack should want to dominate, not submit.
A side of Jack I initially struggled to understand was the way he made me feel that he didn’t value Will. That he thought Will was somehow worth less than other men because he was a gambler and because he didn’t have an ‘honest’ job. The fact that Will occasionally sucked men off in alleyways for money didn’t help Jacks thinking at all. As the story progressed and I got to understand Jack more I realized he feared being left behind, a legacy left over from his father abandoning him as a young child, and although Jack loved Will he tried to deny that love so he would never be left behind if Will left him, whether by Will walking away or by losing him in death. It took some hard thinking on Jack’s part, when he thinks he has lost Will, to realize how wrong he really is, and how much he actually needs Will.
The ending is of course a happy one, it wouldn’t be an Ava March story if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t say I saw the ending coming but it does make perfect sense and leaves me with a warm satisfying glow inside. I like my happy ever after’s and I’m content knowing that Jack and Will have a chance to build a future together. Hopefully we will meet up with them again in book three, Viscount’s Wager, coming in December. I always recommend Ava March’s books and Sharp Love is no exception, just make sure you read All In With the Duke first.
I would like to thank Ava March and Carina Press for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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