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REVIEW: His Client by Ava March

Dear Ms. March.

I loved the excerpt for this book: prostitution! angst! unrequited love! m/m romance! It hit many of my not-so-sekrit Buttons of Hottness and Readerly Pleasure. And I very much enjoyed the book, even if I wanted to beat one of the heroes and not in a fun, sexy way.

Jasper Reed, a bastard from the slums, has been working as a (sort of secret) male prostitute at a high-class (mostly heterosexual) brothel for 10 years, since he was 17:

Delacroix insisted the women dress in fine gowns to project the proper image for the house. But as the men never graced the receiving ¬†room, the only requirement when they moved about the main areas of the house was that they were dressed just enough so any guests they came upon would mistake them for another patron wandering the corridor on their way to another of the bedchambers. Delacroix’s was well-known for its beautiful women, but its handful of accommodating men like himself were only known to those who had need of them.

Jasper has been hoarding his money so he can retire to the country, never to be beholden to anyone again. But he’s in love with one of his clients, Nathaniel Travers, who has been coming to see him for five years. Nate, in turn, is in love with his best friend, Peter Edmonton. We meet both Jasper and Nate on the eve of Edmonton’s marriage and Nate is devastated. Jasper listens, commiserates, and eventually distracts Nate with a (long, very hot) game of “Seduce the Shy, Innocent Virgin,” with Jasper playing the part of the virgin.

Nate is…a lot pathetic in his love for his friend, who is completely and utterly straight. Except for one early school incident, Edmonton has never given Nate any hope for any sort of relationship besides that of friendship, so his pining and hope and deep unrequitedness is mostly just annoying. Jasper’s unrequited longing is less annoying, because at least he knows Nate is…well, the word “gay” never comes up, of course, because it’s a historical romance set in 1822, but Jasper at least knows that Nate prefers men. In fact, Jasper’s longing is just the type of angst I enjoy. Nate’s angst made me want to slap him and yell “Snap out of it!”

Jasper tells Nate he has to get over Edmonton, but in telling Nate that, he realizes he needs to do the same. Nate will never see Jasper’s love, will never return it, despite the fantastic sex. So Jasper takes a week off (first time evah!) and goes to find and buy his house in the country. When he comes back, Nate is desperate for him, but it takes Jasper finally retiring and really leaving for Nate to realize what he’s lost and to go and hunt him down and get him back.

I’m fascinated with how m/m historical romance uses the homosexuality of the men to overcome class barriers. Class barriers become much less important in m/m historicals than the shared sexual identity. I’m going to write a paper about that one day. That aside, I don’t know where Nate got off thinking he had the right to go find Jasper and why he assumed Jasper would just fall into his arms. I also don’t like how Jasper threw up a final barrier of “I’m a durty durty hoar!!! How could you love MEEEEE?” when he’d never really worried about that before. I also wonder how a lower class character who has never left London has a perfect accent and knows how to ride a horse.

Writing/editing niggles: “But Jasper didn’t want a dominate Nate tonight.” AARGH!!! Really?! WHAT is it about the adjective “dominant” that people write it as the verb “dominate”? And why didn’t any number of editors and copy-editors catch this? And Ms. March, you overuse the word “flick”: “A flick of his wrist,” “the golden light flickering across his face,” “a flick of his fingers,” “a flick of his head,” “Flicked his tongue,” “flicking it to the floor” and, according to my search feature, twenty other instances of the word. It became noticeable.

Plot holes, motivations, and word usage aside, I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick little read. It was fun with a short chapter of plot and then a longer chapter of really hot, dirty, role-playing sex, then another chapter of plot, then another of hot, dirty sex. It had angst and prostitutes and unrequited love eventually requited. What more could a girl want?

Grade: B-

Best regards,
-Joan/Sarah F.

Book Link | Kindle | ¬† nook |
| Sony| Loose Id

Sarah F. is a literary critic, a college professor, and an avid reader of romance -- and is thrilled that these are no longer mutually exclusive. Her academic specialization is Romantic-era British women novelists, especially Jane Austen, but she is contributing to the exciting re-visioning of academic criticism of popular romance fiction. Sarah is a contributor to the academic blog about romance, Teach Me Tonight, the winner of the 2008-2009 RWA Academic Research Grant, and the founder and President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). Sarah mainly reviews BDSM romance and gay male romance and hopes to be able to beat her TBR pile into submission when she has time to think. Sarah teaches at Fayetteville State University, NC.

11 Comments

  1. Tweets that mention NewPost: REVIEW: His Client by Ava March -- Topsy.com
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 14:27:53

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ferishia and Lila DiPasqua, dearauthor. dearauthor said: NewPost: REVIEW: His Client by Ava March http://bit.ly/fOrguR [...]

  2. Tae
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 20:16:14

    wow, sounds hot. I definitely want to read this

    ReplyReply

  3. Mikou
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 20:20:04

    I haven’t come across this author before. I might have to check her out.

    ReplyReply

  4. Avid Reader
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 21:20:37

    I’ve enjoyed Ava March’s other m/m historicals — she writes some really evocative scenes. This one sounds like yet another candidate for the growing TBR pile!

    ReplyReply

  5. orannia
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 00:35:25

    Thank you! I have one Ava March book on my iPhone…maybe that first and then this, which I like the sound of :)

    ReplyReply

  6. Arwen
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 00:44:23

    The “dominate” where “dominant” should be makes me insane. :)

    ReplyReply

  7. Jane Davitt
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 07:29:24

    Add to me the list of people who don’t get the ‘dominate’ for ‘dominant’ swap. The first few times I saw it in a book or a fanfic, I wondered if it was an actual term, sort of insider’s slang maybe, because it seemed to be all over the place.

    The book sounds interesting though and since I got a Kobo for Christmas that needs filling up I might treat myself to this.

    ReplyReply

  8. Mandi Schreiner
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 08:35:18

    I liked this one too :) For novellas, Ava March really brings in a nice emotional connection. The dirty smex doesn’t hurt either :)

    ReplyReply

  9. Laura Vivanco
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 09:43:44

    I'm fascinated with how m/m historical romance uses the homosexuality of the men to overcome class barriers. Class barriers become much less important in m/m historicals than the shared sexual identity.

    I wonder if it has anything to do with E. M. Forster’s Maurice but I also wonder if, in the romance genre as a whole, there’s a tendency for all kinds of differences and difficulties to be overcome relatively easily because of the overwhelming love/sexual attraction the protagonists feel for each other.

    I could be wrong about that, but if I’m not, I wonder if it could be at least partly because of the influence of fairy tales. The transformations in Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast are quite abrupt and brought about by love.

    ReplyReply

  10. Liz
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 16:27:34

    @Laura Vivanco (and Joan/Sarah): This–i.e. the over-coming of class and other ideological differences through love–strikes me as typical of “classic” novels, as well (e.g. Richardson’s Pamela, Disraeli’s Sybil, Gaskell’s North and South, even Pride and Prejudice). A move that has proved troubling to some critics, as it can be seen as erasing or eliding real conflicts by providing an “aesthetic” solution. The m/m twist on that theme is interesting, because the love is also forbidden and divides the couple from the rest of their society (or would in reality); I don’t think I’ve read any historical m/m, and now I want to try some.

    ReplyReply

  11. Sirius11214
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 22:31:36

    Oh I want this one. Sold :)

    ReplyReply

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