Sunday, March 01, 2015

His Client by Ava March (2nd Edition) ~ Pre-Release Review


Title: His Client

Author: Ava March

Publisher: TKA Distribution

Release: 17th March 2015

Genre: M/M (historical)


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On every visit to Madame Delacroix’s brothel, Nathaniel Travers requests the same man. Stunningly handsome and highly skilled, Jasper not only shares Nate’s fondness for wickedly erotic games and black leather corsets, but he has become a trusted confidant. And Jasper’s the only person who knows Nate longs for a committed relationship with his childhood friend, Peter Edmonton.

Unrequited love hurts, but it hurts even more when the object of affection is in love with another. Jasper Reed has been working at Delacroix’s for a decade. He’s saved enough to retire, yet he remains at the decadent London brothel. Leaving would mean leaving Nate and the hope someday the rugged gentleman would stop pining for his best friend and realize he loves Jasper, just as Jasper loves him.

Edmonton’s impending marriage looms before them, causing Jasper to take another look at his stubborn heart. Yet Jasper’s a bastard whore, and Nate’s the nephew of a viscount. Surely there can’t be any hope for them…

Note: This is a previously published work. This second edition has been edited with minor changes. For readers who purchased the original edition, this second edition is not substantially different.

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Sally’s Review

I remember reading some of the reviews when this book first came out. I intended to read it but never got round to it, and that's a pity because I'd have loved to have seen if there are any differences between the editions. However, better late than never.

I'm pretty certain that this book absolutely fits the bill for what most romance readers expect when you say 'historical'. Of all possible periods, the Regency is by far the most popular and one can see why. The male style of dress that emphasised breadth of shoulder, depth of chest and length of leg, and encouraged an upright stance and arrogance of carriage, is very alluring. Then there were the manners, so rigid, and the social distances, so vast between the grubby have nots and the lavish lifestyle of the rich. All those barriers just beg to be overturned.

To be picky, I suppose this book shouldn't class as a Regency because it is set in 1822, after the accession of George IV, but I think the term applied to historicals implies more than dry dates and monarchs. It's a thought and a feeling – a time of freedom and luxury after a period of anguish and privation – that can be likened to the excesses of the Flapper era that followed the Great War. The Napoleonic War had ended, the young officers were home, and people had time to be obsessed with fashion, new dances, new pastimes and new technology. Possibilities were endless.

So into this world of possibilities we go to Madame Delacroix's, an incredibly plush house of joy, to meet with Jasper Reed, gentleman for hire by the hour or the night, and probably the most attractive, highly paid and professional of the wares on offer.

Jasper takes his job very seriously, from his appearance, his manners and his education, to his willingness to perform whatever act required, no matter how unpleasant and boorish the client. Jasper has plans. He has aspirations. Despite a poor start as an urchin from St Giles, he has made the most of what God gave him and has no intention of remaining a whore until his looks go. In fact he has already saved enough from his earnings to retire to a modest little living in the country. So what is stopping him?

Will – his favourite client, with whom he has most inconveniently fallen in love.

Will is a stocky, rugged young man with some rather specialised needs in the bedroom that Jasper is very keen to supply, but he's also in love – with his best friend who is so far from reciprocating his love that he's about to make a love match marriage with a very sweet young woman.

Oblivious and self-centred, Will pours out all his woes to Jasper, gets them both off and literally leaves the money on the dresser.

Oh my heart went out to Jasper! It really did. His name may have been Reed but he was far from a weak reed. He had an admirable work ethic and knew exactly what he wanted and, more important, what it was possible for him to have. Of the two protagonists, he was the one I was rooting for. He deserved so much more than Will seemed able to give and, really, was that much? Will is heir to a business he doesn't understand and doesn't seem to be interested in learning about. He moons after a man he KNOWS he can't have and despite being prepared to take a drubbing in the boxing saloon, comes across as by far the weaker character. Maybe this is why with Jasper he enjoys games where he takes the sexually dominant role? Although I would argue that Jasper has his finger on and manipulates the emotional pulse throughout most of the story.

Just a point. Whether one would describe their games as BDSM or not depends on your definition. The games involve toys and a bit of role-play and dressing up – things that bolster Will's confidence and self-esteem. There's the implication that they may go further but, and I was very pleased to see this, it's within bounds set by Jasper who is wary of putting himself at a disadvantage until sure he can trust. Readers expecting intense scenes may be disappointed but what they won't find disappointing is the depth of feeling between the two young men – again, Jasper showing more depth and constancy and a greater appreciation of the realities of their relationship – or the resolution that they find.

Downsides? I would have liked to know a bit more about Jasper and the transformation from slum kid to gentleman. I'd have liked to see a bit more of what Will would bring to their relationship besides fun in the bedroom – though I understand there's a free short story that may fill in that little gap. I asked myself several times about the monetary arrangements. What is Jasper's cut, how much bed and board is he charged, is he fined for loss or damage to tools of the trade? Fat stacks of pound notes are mentioned several times and brought me up short as a mental graph popped up showing average annual wages for the 1820s [that sort of thing happens when I've got my reviewing head on]. But then I recalled the modern "escort agencies" who charge $40,000 a night for the services of their most desirable operatives and decided that fat stacks were probably feasible. Editorial problems – only two minor things caught my eye and they were the type of mis-spelling that fills a reader with a warm glow. Honestly, I'd sooner see a 'snuggly' butt plug than any other kind and if one is expecting an orgasm it must be comforting to know that it's going to be an eminent one.

But ignoring the niggles in the previous paragraph, I found this a satisfying and absorbing read, with sympathetic characters for whom, at the end, I was wishing nothing but good.

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About the Author

Ava March is an author of sexy, emotionally intense M/M historical erotic romances. She loves writing in the Regency time period, where proper decorum is of the utmost importance, but where anything can happen behind closed doors. With over fifteen works to her credit, her books have been finalists in the Rainbow Awards and More Than Magic contest, and deemed ‘must-haves’ for Historical M/M romance by RT Book Reviews readers.

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