Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gotta Love Historicals Week: Review of Bound by Deception & Bound to Him by Ava March

Ava March
Bound by Deception
Loose Id, 2008

Bound series, book 1.
So far there are 2 books, and one free short story, in this series. All three have the same main characters, Oliver and Vincent, in it.

Lord Oliver Marsden has a secret. He's been in love with his childhood friend for years, though Vincent's never shown an interest in him beyond friendship. Ruggedly handsome, wealthy, and successful, Vincent is everything Oliver is not. And Vincent doesn't prefer men.
Then Oliver discovers Vincent hires a man during his visits to a London brothel. Desperate to be with Vincent, Oliver orchestrates a deception, switching places with the brothel's employee. When Oliver arrives at the bedchamber, he's in for another surprise. Restraints and a leather bullwhip? Apparently Vincent isn't as conservative as he appears.
Lord Vincent Prescot has a secret of his own. One kept locked away and only indulged once a month. But this month's appointment is different. The mysterious man is so perfect, so beautiful in his submission, rousing protective instincts Vincent can't deny. Yet he refuses to believe he might truly prefer men, for it could mean the end of his hopes of earning his father's respect.
Will betrayal destroy them or will they be bound together by deception?

Genre & Keywords:
M/M, Historical, Regency England, Friends become lovers, D/s, Bondage

Why I read it:
Some of my blog friends read and reviewed it, after it had caught my eye at the Loose Id site. But I was hesitant because of the historical element. Especially Mandi from Smexybooks knew how to convince me to read it.

Oliver tricks his ‘straight’ friend Vincent to spend a night with him after he finds out he’s gay. Vincent surprises him with his unusual BDSM preference. Oliver succeeds in keeping his identity a secret, Vincent can’t forget the man and tries to find him. When secrets are revealed all there’s left is to find a way to be together, although that’s not easy in Regency England.

My opinion in short:
Bound by Deception is one of those romances that let me forget my surroundings to become entirely wrapped up in, in this case, the vicissitudes of Oliver’s and Vincent’s life. Set in Regency England this novel shows some of society’s behavior towards homosexuality as a reason for conflict in their relationship, but aside from that the story didn’t feel too historical, to my relief. The inner turmoil and relationship issues were the main focus altogether. I completely enjoyed Ms. March narrating skills, her writing is beautiful, lucid and compelling, which makes her work easy to read. After finishing the novel I felt a bit unsatisfied about the happily ever after, and luckily for my peace of mind the sequel Bound To Him was already written and available.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Heat level: 3 of 3 flames

Ava March
Bound to Him
Loose Id, 2009

Bound series, book 2.
So far there are 2 books, and one free short story, in this series. All three have the same main characters, Oliver and Vincent, in it.

Lord Vincent Prescot’s life couldn’t be better. His investments were exceeding his expectations, he’d finally accepted that his father would never look on him as a prized son, and his best friend loved him. A thriving bank account, well-respected by his peers, and mind blowing sex with a man who submitted to his every desire -- what more could he want?
Lord Oliver Marsden should be more than happy with his life. He’s been in love with Vincent for over a decade and six months ago the impossible happened and they became lovers. But since then, nothing had changed. More specifically, Vincent hadn’t changed. Oliver tried to be patient – it had taken a lot for Vincent to accept the fact he preferred men. But what felt like a tiny distance between them six months ago now felt like an ever-widening chasm. Why couldn’t Vincent stay the night every now and then? Was it too much to ask for Vincent to call him Oliver and not Marsden? He knew Vincent cared for him, but did he love him?
Then Vincent’s father asks him for a favor – to marry his elder brother’s intended, thus freeing his brother to marry a powerful duke’s daughter. If Vincent agrees, he’ll have the respect he’s craved from his father but could lose Oliver. Nor does Oliver make the decision easy. To keep Oliver, he’ll have to do more than deny his father. He’ll have to give Oliver his heart.

Six months later. Vincent thinks all is going well between him and his lover, but Oliver doesn’t agree. He would like Vincent to become less cold and distant and acknowledge their relationship more. When Vincent’s father asks him to marry his elder brother’s lover for political reasons, Vincent ponders it and another conflict is added to their relationship.

My opinion in short:
Bound to Him is even more gripping and compelling than its prequel Bound by Deception. The build up to a big misunderstanding is inevitable. The tension and angst level are rising high and I loved every minute of it. My heart ached badly at one point and again I could’ve happily smacked Vincent once or twice, but he redeemed himself in the last part of the book with one of the most beautiful HEA scenes. As well as in the first book I was way more sympathizing with Oliver than with Vincent, but in the end I adored both. And, not unimportant, the love scenes were again ultimately satisfying and orgasmic.

Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Heat level: 3 of 3 flames

What’s more to know about these books:
Vincent and Oliver are both second sons of the aristocracy and gay, but otherwise they are completely different. Not only is one rich and the other not. Vincent is also more distant and cold than Oliver, he’s the one who thinks things through while Oliver just acts according his feelings. Vincent is the Dom, Oliver the sub. Both are great heroes, but I must admit that I loved Oliver most. He’s adorable and sexy and we know from the beginning that he’s in love with Vincent since ages. With him you can’t help sympathizing, he deserves to be happy, and at some point I wanted to slap Vincent for making Oliver wait and hurt. Both are well-rounded characters and acting consistently throughout the two books.
Both men’s alternating points of view are told in third person. At the beginning of the first book, for a significant amount of pages, only Oliver’s POV is shown, which makes identifying with him the logic and easy thing to do. Fortunately, we also get Vincent POV, for example in his search for the mystery man in the first book and also in other scenes, both in the first and second book. Ms. March managed to convey the feeling of being in their heads perfectly.
Really not much happens, especially in the first book. There are a few long and memorable scenes that are detailed and intense. And in between some connecting scenes hold everything together. The first book opens with an introduction to and the performance of one of the hottest BDSM scenes I’ve ever read, which drags you into the story with compelling sentences and the vivid description of occurrences and feelings. No matter if you want to or not, you have to keep reading, it’s inescapable. And the overwhelming tension of that scene remains a presence during the rest of the story too. When I finished the first book an unconsciously held breath escaped. And I immediately wanted to read more about this couple. Luckily, there already was a sequel out to fulfill my need.
The second book has a richer plot, in which more of historical society plays a part and in which Vincent’s father is having a devious role. This plot is, like that of the first book, tension filled, which adds to the suspense and the intensity of the reading experience. The second book also delivered the most beautiful HEA scene! Finally.
M/M. D/s. These are amazingly erotic reads, really! The main reason why I found the smexing so fabulous and scorching hot, was because these scenes are written from within the character’s heads and hearts. Emotions and feelings accompany all the sexy visuals. The BDSM consists mainly of bondage, some whipping and teasing, imo the best variant of BDSM in romance novels there is. It’s not the hardcore stuff at all and Vincent and Oliver are principally a Dom and sub, not a Master and slave, which is how I prefer them.
Writing style
Compelling and beautiful sentences seduce you to surrender to Vincent’s and Oliver’s world, and step into this other era. Ms. March is a master in creating moments of intensity that makes you feel isolated from your actual surroundings where nothing else exists any longer than what happens with her protags. These ‘moments’ can sometimes go on for over 40 pages in which, on the outside, nothing much seems to happen, but the opposite is true. In those 40 pages we are regaled with such a richness of information. Not the boring-detailed-irrelevant-description kind of information that only serves to slow down a story and add some artificial suspense. No, it’s an elaborate, heart-felt, intense description of sensations. Ms. March is definitely a very skillful writer.

Favorite scene/quote:
I’ll pick one from the first book, because my favorite scene from the second book is too spoilerish. The one from the first book is the one in which Vincent feels confused after he just discovered that his mystery man is actually his old friend Oliver (Marsden), and in which Oliver shows him his feelings: *sigh, you gotta love Oliver*

So where did this leave them? He didn’t want to lose Marsden’s friendship, but could they go on as they had, after all of this?
Was that what he really wanted? Or did he want more?
He didn’t lift his head when he heard the sound of footsteps approaching.
“Just know there’s one person who accepts you, and loves you for who you are, even if you don’t feel that way about yourself.” Marsden let out a heavy exhale. “Here. I know how much it means to you. I apologize for taking it and for upsetting you tonight. I just” -- he sighed again, the sound tired, beyond defeated -- “needed you to know it had been me.”
The pure heartache in Marsden’s voice tugged at Vincent’s chest, and all of his questions answered themselves. He wanted more.

Ava March’s website | blog | on Goodreads
Buy the Bound Series here
Download Deliberately Unbound for free here

The books in this series:
# 1: Bound by Deception
# 2: Bound to Him
# 2.5: Deliberately Unbound (Free short story)


  1. Wonderful reviews!!! I loved both, and I totally agree that Bound to Him amps up the emotion and stories even more. Love this author...

  2. Oh my girlie... you sure do know how to make me break the bank and put my credit card on the run... Damn woman!!! **Hee heee**

    Do I have to tell you how awesome of a job you did with your reviews!?! You rocked this one (two) out!
    Great job!

    Hope all is going well for you honey!! Hugs to you!!!

  3. I love Ava March's historical m/m. I don't think I've read these yet, I must venture over to my Kindle and buy immediately!

    Nice reviews J.

  4. @mandi: Thank you! :) I adore these books and I'm so glad you urged me a little bit to read them!

    @Cecile: Heeheeh, you're too kind, hon. I don't think you'll regret putting your CC through that ;) I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! :D

    @KC: *grin* I love your enthusiasm! I think you'll like these too!

  5. I completely blame Ava for my discovering I don't universally hate historicals. ;)

  6. @Chris: *grin* I know! She's wickedly good at seducing one into her stories. :)

  7. I do like the sound of this one, though with these historicals, HEAs are so hard to believe

  8. @Blodeuedd: No problem with that in Bound to Him. It was a darn good HEA! :)

  9. I loved the first book and have the 2nd on my TBR. Should probably move it up. Great reviews!!

  10. Fantastic reviews Janna - thank you!

    Emotions and feelings accompany all the sexy visuals.

    That's what I want *grin* I have the first on my iPhone but have yet to read it...I think I should - very soon :)

  11. @Lily: Thank you! :) I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

    @orannia: Oh yeah, don't wait much longer, hon! *I'm not pushing or anything* ;)


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