Book review: All In by Nell Stark

Stark All In Stark, Nell. All In. Bold Stroke Books. 2014. $16.95. 264p. PB. 9781626390669.

When Annie Jump Navarro–or Nova as she’s known in the world of online poker–finds her assets frozen, she’s forced to turn to live poker to stay afloat. Leaving the comfort of her home and roommates, she travels to Las Vegas to compete in the World Series of Poker to secure sponsorship and her future. Sparks fly when she meets casino host Vesper Blake, who begrudgingly helps Nova make the difficult move from online to live poker, but Vesper has other plans and goals complicated by Nova’s appearance.

All In is sweet romance with a slow–but steady–build. The pacing is perfect and the writing detailed but not boring, particularly in regards to the poker talk. The predictability of the novel is in a comfortable and time-honored way of romance novels. The development of Nova and Vesper’s characters make them likeable with clear motivations and personalities. Their romance is natural, with a slow burn that finally blazes when Vesper opens up to Nova and lets her into her life.

And of course, no romance novel would be complete without a happy ending. All In wraps things up tidily without seeming rushed or too contrived.

This title is a solid addition to any public library romance novel collection or a great start for a LGBTQ romance collection.


Amy Call, Reference Librarian


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