Not a Game by Cardeno C. ~ Book Review by Christine

NotaGameCoverTitle: Not a Game
Series: Friends #1

Author: Cardeno C.

Publisher: The Romance Writers, LLC

Cover Artist: A.J. Corza

Rating: 3.75 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 07/15/2016

Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)

Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance


An accidental meeting and a misunderstanding lead to a life-altering connection.

A new job, a new city, and hopefully a new life. When chubby gamer Oliver Barnaby receives a job offer from the best boutique game developer in the country, he leaves his family and his less than spectacular existence in Oklahoma without a second’s hesitation. Determined to change more than his career and his geography, Oliver implements a plan to finally land a boyfriend. Step one is improving his skills in the bedroom.

A life that looks perfect on paper, but feels empty in reality. Attractive, successful, charismatic Jaime Snow has a life other people envy. His already booming business is growing. He isn’t lacking in friends. And he has no trouble finding a date. But there’s an emptiness in Jaime’s heart and a hole in his life that only the right man can fill.

An accidental meeting, a misunderstanding, and falling in love. When Oliver and Jaime end up at the same bar at the same time, they each see something they want in the other. Going to bed together that first night is easy. Building the lifetime relationship they both desperately crave will require trust, time, and a little misunderstanding.

My View:

Ollie has just moved from Oklahoma to start a career as a game designer in Seattle. Things are going well, but he feels that love is the one thing missing in his life. His next move: embarking on a mission to improve his sexual prowess and land a boyfriend. Jaime Snow is an established businessman who also feels that something is missing. He is handsome and successful, yet he harbors a longing for just the right someone to share his life. When Ollie and Jaime meet at a bar, there is a misunderstanding that leads to sex, then a possible relationship. However, there is much to overcome if these two lonely hearts are to have a future together, the main thing being the truth.

This is the first book I have read by Cardeno C, and I think what impressed me most was the diversity of the main characters. Ollie is, as the blurb states, chubby. He struggles with his self-image and is looking for someone who loves him for who he is. He grabs the reader’s heart, especially as he steps out of his comfort zone in an attempt to advance his bedroom skills. His insecurity and self-doubt are the clear obstacles he must conquer if he is to move forward with finding a relationship. Jaime is outward perfection as a handsome, successful business owner. Yet what I loved most about him was his sweetness, his sincere attraction to Ollie, and his maturity. I adore stories with “older” characters finding love, and Jaime is particularly appealing in his pursuit of Ollie, with a genuine concern for his partner that is beautiful and striking.

These two establish a strong physical connection from the very beginning. Their intimate scenes are erotic, detailed, and emotional. Not only do they connect on a physical level, but their dialogue is frank and direct as they get to know each other and their comfort levels rise, particularly Ollie’s. They work well together in all aspects, and I especially enjoyed watching Ollie come out of his shell and revel in his sexuality with abandon.

The only thing that bothered me about the relationship here was the “misunderstanding” between the two main characters. It started out as just that and created an effective cute-meet, but it slowly evolved into more of a deception that went on too far into the book. I liked the reasoning behind it and understood it, but I felt it should have been resolved earlier in order to establish a more truthful foundation for the relationship between Ollie and Jaime. For me, it bordered on a major character flaw that made me begin to dislike how things were going in the story. Fortunately, it worked out all right, but my comfort level was truly tested up to that point.

I must take a moment to speak to the secondary characters, which are well-written and create strong connections for the main characters outside of their relationship. The title of this book parenthetically indicates that it is the first of a series, and there are appealing personalities introduced within the main characters’ circles that would serve as wonderful focal characters in future installments. I’m looking forward to those.

Overall, I enjoyed Not a Game and highly recommend it. With its distinctly different characters, strong scenes of physical and emotional connection, and sweet HEA, it is a lovely m/m romance with excellent promise for a new series. Yes, this is my first Cardeno C read, but it most definitely won’t be my last!


Not a Game on Goodreads
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I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

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