Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Annabeth Albert - Status Update

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 geo archaeologist 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?

Comment: This is the first story in the "gaymers" series by Annabeth Albert. I had only read another book by this author and liked it but it was about different characters with another theme (military), so I was curious to see her work in a different setting. The result was slightly less well achieved for me, but still satisfactory.

In this book we meet Noah Walters as he walks his dog at a trailer park where his RV stays for the time being, a secluded location while he writes a dissertation in peace and quiet. That peace is disturbed when another man. Adrien, shows up with his own dog and he just plays with his phone while the dog bothers Noah's. Things change quickly, though when Adrien is left stranded by his boyfriend and Noah decides to help him. As the two share close space and an interest in video games, they discover all the things they have in common and let the attraction between them to unfurl. However, there's real life to get back to, for both of them. Will t be possible to overcome the bindings that have shaped Noah's life? And could Adrien trust this is the right man at last?

This wasn't a bad story but I admit I expected a bit more of it at first. I think the idea was a great one and the main couple had chemistry where it counted but I still think the emotional place where both were at the end was not completely convincing to me as having reached a good balance. I finished the book thinking Noah probably would need more time to let go of his old beliefs in himself.

The biggest obstacle between the guys is, at first, geography. They meet by chance and they develop a cute friendship while attraction simmers during the time Noah helps Adrien. Once they decided they might have what it takes to be a couple, geography (among other emotional issues) gets on heir way and Adrien knows how tiring it can be to have a long distance relationship. I think these things were dealt with well enough, after all it's not that easy to solve your professional/geographical life without some time, without some legal stuff which can delay things more than people want. When this happens for the guys, I think that it was just an excuse, of course, for the real reason why they were apart.

The thing is, Noah is in the closet and works as a teacher in a very conservative private college. He knows that legally, he could fight the clause he signed where he is forbidden from displaying bad morals and similar stuff but who he is should not be up to debate. For several personal reasons, Noah feels he has to maintain his quiet persona, he feels he might be looked at as a failure if he doesn't continue with his work and this affects his state of mind quite a lot. For me, this was the most interesting part of the story, Noah's inner struggles and because he has his psychology issues, I felt his relationship with Adrien, while they were in the RV, was done a little too superficially, a little too focused on the physical and I would have preferred that part to have been done differently.

I suppose I wanted Noah's thoughts to be a bit more progressive in time and it felt that geography, instead of just adding more stress for Noah to be compelled to make a decision, was only another stress factor and the guys felt like were at odds in a way that didn't totally convince me of how strong their life together could be. Yes, the author writes things in a way that makes sense for this to happen but there was something about it that could have been better to me.

I've been talking more about Noah but Adrien has his own issues... I just think that, for me, Noah's character and psyche were more interesting to think about. I should say, though, that some of the details why Adrien was in a complicated place over the wedding of his sister were... too weird. I can accept them but they still felt too weird.

Thinking of this as a whole, the story isn't too bad but there a few details I'd definitely change. There are also some scenes which feel a bit too fluffy, a bit too sugary. I don't think this is so much I couldn't enjoy/believe most of what was happening, but I don't think they would be that necessary. I'm still curious about other books by this author, so I'll read more and I hope other books can be easier to connect with and to enjoy.

Grade: 7/10

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