Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: All In
SERIES: The Den Boys #1
AUTHOR: A.T. Brennan
PUBLISHER: Self Published
LENGTH: 306 Pages
RELEASE DATE: July 11, 2017
“I learned a long time ago that nothing is free, not even help.” ~ Blaze
Almost getting killed in a gay bashing should have been one of the worst moments of my life, but with everything I’ve been through, it was just another day, except for the gorgeous man who stepped in to save me. There is something about Galen that draws me in and makes me want know him, and the more time I spend with him, the more I feel free to be myself. Galen doesn’t seem to know what he wants, but I’m a man who stays true to himself, and Galen seems to be someone worth taking a chance on.
“Then you happened and all you have to do is touch me and I lose myself.” ~ Galen
I never thought I’d stumble on an attempted murder, but that’s exactly what happened one night while I was trying to get home. After chasing away the assailants and helping the enigmatic young victim home I tried to put the incident out of my mind, but I couldn’t get him out of my head. I might not have ever thought about being with a man before, but the more time I spend with Blaze, the more I learn about who I really am. Blaze has scars that run deep, but as he opens up to me I find myself questioning everything I thought I wanted, and wondering if I’m a good enough man to give him what he needs.
I began reading this story having no real idea of what was going to happen, or what it was really about. The blurb let me know that our two main characters were going to meet through a gay bashing, but that was pretty much it. Vague blurbs can go either way for me. Sometimes I prefer to know more about the book I’m about to get into, and sometimes I like to discover everything along the way. I guess it was lucky that I was in the mood for a bit of blind discovery, because I totally enjoyed reading this story.
Plot wise, this isn’t the most eventful tale that I’ve read lately. Aside from the gay bashing, the story isn’t so much about what is happening around our main characters, but what is happening between them. And that worked for this book. The author spends time getting into the heads of Blaze and Galen, and building a relationship that the reader can believe in.
The Den – the title of this series – is a bar where Blaze works as a bartender. It’s home to a crowd of LGBT young adults, who have been rescued from bad circumstances by the bar’s owner. They’ve formed themselves a family of sorts, and I adore these series that stick their characters into this sort of setting. I love having a close-knit group that we can follow through several books.
The focus of the story is Galen and Blaze dealing with their issues to form a relationship. Blaze has a plethora of problems to work through. He doesn’t think that he’s good enough for Galen, because he’s done a lot of things that he’s ashamed of. He has no idea how to be anyone’s boyfriend, and the fact that Galen took him on his first ever date was just too damn cute. Galen, while seemingly having his shit together is also a bit of a mess. Before meeting Blaze he thought he was straight, though only because that’s what was “normal” and he’d never considered any other option. I think my favourite thing about this story was the way that discovering his “gayness” wasn’t an issue for Galen. It didn’t freak him out and he never tried to deny it, he just had an Ah ha! moment and happily went with it. But again, Galen had no idea how to be in a relationship, and I enjoyed watching these two muddle through it together.
Now, the sex. There was a lot of it. A lot. And it was damn hot. I’m not a fan of a lot of sex in whatever book I’m reading. I often feel like it’s a frustrating time-out from the story. But somehow it worked here, although I still felt like I shouldn’t enjoy it if only because I usually don’t. I appreciated that Galen had never had anal sex before, and really stuffed it up. And it was great that the author used these scenes to help show the way the relationship between the two was evolving. I know that most readers love themselves some steamy sex scenes, and I can assure you that this story definitely ticks that box.
I’m very interested in reading the rest of this series. The second book is releasing only days after I’ve written this review, and I intend to be waiting in line when it becomes available. The second book is a ménage, but if that’s not your thing, no worries, this first book is a complete story and doesn’t need a sequel.