Review: Going All In: Kristine Cayne

Going All In (Men of Boyzville #1)
Kristine Cayne
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Released November 11, 2016
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Life has been tough on Harry Cooper. Rejected by his best friend, abandoned by his family, Harry spurns relationships, settling instead for backroom hookups and one-night stands. Out and proud, he ekes out a living selling drinks in gold lamé trunks while struggling to make a name for himself as a musician. Desperate for a change, he and his roommate take a trip to Vegas, where Harry finds himself getting more than he’d bet on.

Fragrance chemist Ashton Montgomery is the man behind the Ashton George line of perfumes and colognes. He is also a gay man hiding behind the façade of one of New York City’s most eligible straight bachelors. After a failed paternity suit against him, he sneaks off to Vegas to celebrate his freedom. But is he really free, or is he locked into the future his parents have mapped out for him—CEO to the family business and married to a society woman of their choosing?

A chance meeting at a rock concert in Sin City catapults Harry and Ashton into an adventure where each man comes head to head with what he fears most. Can they learn to trust each other as a couple, or is undeniable lust all they have? When all the cards are on the table, they each must decide whether to fold or go all in. 

Going All In is the series-starting spin-off from Kristine Cayne’s first M/M novel—and one of my favorites of 2016—Lover on Top. Having that distinction automatically meant this story had a lot to live up to, and while it did come up short in comparison, I still found it worth the read.

Harry Cooper, whom we first met in Lover on Top, dreams of making it as a musician, but like the rest of his life, it’s a road paved with struggle and hardship. To make ends meet, he sells shots at the Seattle gay club where he’s also the fill-in bassist for the house band. Trust and abandonment issues from his past make relationships a no-go for him. In a rut, he and his roommate escape on a Las Vegas vacation. Ashton Montgomery is a successful chemist and heir to his family’s world-renowned fragrance company. He’s also trapped by the future his parents have planned for him, one which definitely does not include spending his life with another man. He decides to take a secret getaway to Vegas after surviving a fake paternity suit against him. While there, a chance meeting with a hot stranger at a concert turns into a night filled with…well, things neither of them can remember the next morning when they wake tangled in the sheets of a hotel bed together. While their lust and chemistry is clear, Ashton discovers something the next day about those forgotten events that could threaten his future, though at the same time, it could put them both on a path to a life together.

Going All In features a trope that was new to me in M/M romance, though I’m guessing this “Vegas story” (for lack of a good, spoiler-free term for it) has been used in several M/F romances. The truth Ashton discovers about what they did that night is something he decides to keep secret from everyone until he can figure out what to do about it, and that will require him to learn more about Harry, a man who lives across the country from him. Ashton’s family expects him to marry a high-society woman and follow in his father’s footsteps. Not only is he not interested in marrying a woman, he knows he’ll be happier staying in his product development role. So in order to protect himself from discovery, he concocts two cover stories, one to convince his parents why he needs to spend an extended time in Seattle and one to hide his real identity from Harry. In Seattle, they discover their Vegas chemistry is more than just a one-night thing. The more they learn about each other, the more they want to be together, and Ashton’s fear of exposure moves from being based on ruining his future to being scared of losing Harry when he discovers the truth.

My favorite part about the book is the characters. In many ways, they are perfect opposites for one another, and many of these things are the sorts of things that make it tough for a relationship to work. For example, Harry refuses to hide that he’s gay and proud, while Ashton can’t be out without jeopardizing his future. Their backgrounds couldn’t be further from one another, nor could their aspirations. And of course Harry’s trust and abandonment issues means he can’t deal well with being lied to, something Ashton doesn’t know until he’s already buried deep in them. But they work as a pair because they have an amazing chemistry and a desire for things to work, even when the truth threatens to tear them apart forever.

I’m not going to go into detail because I don’t want to give spoilers, but once the story was established, it felt a little predictable, and at one time in particular, the drama around Harry jumping to a conclusion about something seemed a little contrived. But as a whole, it’s a good story that’s easy to follow and doesn’t stray too far from the line of believability.

Whenever an author writes a follow-up to a book I really enjoy, it’s hard for me not to draw comparisons, and I don’t like to because it inevitably makes my impression of the follow-up sound worse than it actually is. What I will say, though, is that Kristine Cayne’s Going All In left me with a positive impression. I liked it. But at the same time, nothing about it stood out either way to result in a strong opinion for me. As such, would I recommend reading this book? Sure, but it wouldn’t be the first book of hers I would suggest. Do I look forward to more from her? Definitely and eagerly.

One last thing, though: I normally don’t make commentaries on book covers, but there’s something about this one that I can’t put my finger on, but it’s truly one of the best of the year.

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of Going All In in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Read Kim's 4.5-star review
and an excerpt from Going All In HERE!

Kristine Cayne 
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Kristine Cayne's books have won numerous awards and acclaim. Her first book, Deadly Obsession, was an RT Book Reviews Top Pick and won Best Romance in the 2012 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards. Her second book, Deadly Addiction, won two awards at the 2014 eFestival of Words and 1st place in the INDIE Awards, Romantic Suspense Category (a division of Chanticleer Book Reviews Blue Ribbon Writing Contests).

Her book Under His Command won Best BDSM Romance at the 2012 Sizzling Awards and was a finalist in the 2013 eFestival of Words and 2013 RONE (Reward of Novel Excellence) Awards, and her book Everything Bared was a finalist in the Erotic category of the I Heart Indie awards.


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