Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Carina Press
Cover Artist: Unknown
Rating: 5.0 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 12/07/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance
Adrian Gottlieb is winning at life. He’s a successful video game designer with everything a man could ask for, including a warm comfy ride to Denver and a date for his sister’s wedding. But he finds himself in need of a total reboot when he’s left stranded at a snowy campground in Utah. Holiday plans? Epic fail.
That is until Noah Walters offers him shelter for the night and a reluctant cross-country ride. Nothing about the ultraconservative geoarchaeologist should attract Adrian, but once he discovers Noah’s hidden love for video games, the two connect on a new level. Soon, a quiet but undeniable chemistry sparks.
Something doesn’t add up, though. As the miles accumulate and time runs out, Noah must face the most difficult choice of his life. Meanwhile, Adrian must decide whether he’s ready to level up. Is their relationship status worth fighting for, or has this game ended before it’s even begun?
I really love it when a book surprises me. I picked this book to review because of the subject matter (gay gamers) but wasn’t expecting much more than something mediocre, like a lot of the other stuff I’ve been reading lately. What I got was a superbly written novel with the perfect amount of romance, sex and conflict.
The main characters here are Adrian Gottlieb and Noah Walters. Adrian is a successful video game designer who is taking an RV trip with the long distance boyfriend he just met in person for the first time. Noah is an archaeologist staying in his RV working on a book he needs to finish to make tenure. At first Adrian and Noah are just neighbors at the RV park but things change when Adrian’s temperamental boyfriend Trent takes off leaving Adrian with nothing but the clothes on his back and his little dog, Pixel.
Noah, being the nice guy he is, takes in Adrian and Pixel even though his dog, Ulysses, isn’t fond of the yappy thing. Both dogs were basically supporting characters with their own very distinct personalities and played important parts in the story but never became too much or unrealistic like I’ve seen in other books.
It would seem the out and proud Adrian and the conservative Noah wouldn’t have much in common, but they have a mutual love of gaming that starts a bond. At first Noah is just giving Adrian a place to stay but soon agrees to give him a ride to Denver so he can be there for his sister’s wedding.
The drive brings the two men closer than either thought possible. Noah’s sexuality, and the issues behind it are slowly revealed bit by bit. It was frustrating not learning it all at once, but it was perfect. A large discovery of everything wouldn’t have been as enticing. The entire novel was paced almost perfectly. I say almost because I thought there were certain parts of the book that dragged but rushing things wouldn’t have worked either. It was more my desire for the two men to get into the heat of things so I can’t mark the book down for that. In fact, it’s a plus that I was so fascinated I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
Albert has a strong mastery of the English language, there’s no doubt about that, but she doesn’t overuse it. I’ve read books where the author is obviously intelligent and wants the reader to know so the book ends up being full of ten dollar words. But here the author keeps it at the right level, especially for the characters. She absolutely knows these characters and every aspect of their lives.
There are so many great lines in this book I couldn’t possibly quote all the ones I loved.
First of all, Albert can certainly paint a picture. Here’s Adrian listening to Noah and understanding him for the first time since they met.
Noah got more animated as he talked, muscles seeming to relax a bit. Tension unspooled inside of Adrian too, his internal sensors coming off red alert—Noah wasn’t an antisocial loner; he was simply one of those guys who didn’t really come alive until you got him talking about work. Adrian could sympathize. Being able to only talk about work was exactly how he’d landed in this mess.
And here is a wonderful description of Adrian through Noah’s POV.
His hooded eyes were hazel shot through green, like a calm pond on a quiet fall day.
One of Noah’s issues regarding his repressed sexuality connects to his religion. Thankfully, while touched on, it is never thrown in your face. There are no scriptures or sermons, just Noah dealing with how he was brought up. It’s handled absolutely perfectly.
Noah is a virgin in the beginning of the book and, obviously is not by the end. This is a romance novel after all. I have to commend the author for writing sex scenes that were realistic, sweet and erotic all at the same time. I’m so grateful Noah wasn’t instantly perfect in bed.
Noah’s mouth did the most curious thing—it watered. He’d read a few fiction scenes with oral sex over the years, and the idea of using his mouth on someone never particularly turned him on, but one look at Adrian’s penis and Noah got the attraction.
I’m not usually a fan of the term penis in sex scenes because it has a clinical quality to it, but here it was perfect. Noah is new to sex and he wouldn’t be using terms like cock or dick, not right off the bat anyway. This is just another example of how well Albert understood her guys.
They traded kisses like bites of food—sharing nourishment, a deeper communion than simply lips meeting. Noah’s limbs were heavy, and his brain slowed so much, he wondered if he could actually fall asleep like this, being kissed into a coma.
Man, I loved these guys so much. I was enthralled with their journey and cheered with them when they finally acknowledged their feelings for each other. And when Noah was torn with what to do with his life I understand the conflict in his head, even though I didn’t share his beliefs.
The conflict between them was simply awesome. I knew there’d be an HEA but I wasn’t sure how the author was going to make it happen. Of course it was absolutely perfect.
There just a few more things I have to commend regarding this book. First all is the supporting cast, mainly Adrian’s family who were portrayed realistically and not as caricatures as happens so often.
And finally, the cover. It’s simply perfect for this book in a way I’ve never seen before.
Status Update was an amazing read and I look forward to the next book in the series.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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