Monday, May 10, 2021

Annabeth Albert - Connection Error

It's typical of video game programmer Josiah Simmons to be the last one on the plane on the way to the biggest meeting of his career. Though he's (mostly) coping with his ADHD, he can't handle another distraction. But he also can't ignore his rugged seatmate—especially once he learns the military man's a fan of his game.
Ryan Orson refuses to let his severe injuries pause his career as a navy SEAL. He's got hours of grueling physical therapy ahead of him, and no time for anything that might get in the way of his return to active duty. But that doesn't mean he's above a little first-class flirtation with geeky-cute Josiah.
When a delay strands the pair in St. Louis, they agree to share a hotel room and a night of gaming. Neither expects their new connection to move to the next level in the light of day. Opposites may attract, but is this game over before it's even begun?

Comment: This is the third installment in the gaymers series by Annabeth Albert, featuring a cast of characters somehow related to a game company. I liked the previous books and have decided to finish the series.

In this book we have the story of Josiah Simmons, whose behavior in the previous novel made him look rather scatterbrained but in this novel there is a slight focus on his ADHD and that means  he sometimes  can't remain focused long enough to realize how others might be reacting. He copes, though, and tries his best to not lose track of things. When the story begins he is boarding a plane on a work travel and that is how he meets Ryan Orson, his seatmate. He thinks Ryan is very attractive but he also knows he can't get distracted from what he is doing although they flirt a little. He can't avoid his immediate reaction, though, when he sees Ryan is in a wheelchair when the plane has to land over a weather issue. He has a chance to try again when Ryan kindly lets him share a hotel room and they indulge in their love for gaming but could it be more between them than a sudden and temporary attraction?

I liked this book. I don't think I'll remember it as being a favorite down the road but it had an interesting story and personal themes for each protagonist. The author does seem to think about ways to make the books feel fresh and engrossing even when some tropes have to be repeated.

The story line isn't too complicated although there are some elements of improbability that could only work in extreme situations (like inviting a stranger to share a hotel room) but in this case I went along with it because of how the conversation between Ryan and Josiah happened during the flight. I think the author did well in allowing us to be surprised by Ryan's condition and how Josiah couldn't fake his sudden reaction. As with everything, it's by getting to know more about something that we stop thinking of it as different and, in a way, that was what Josiah had the chance to do.

Josiah is an interesting character, I think his deficit attention wasn't such a big deal in the sense the author didn't use this to justify his flaws or the things he didn't accomplish. It was just something he had to live with but wasn't the only extent of his personality. Josiah is cute and a little too nice but I think his transition from someone trying to be the dependable guy into someone with more confidence in himself was done well enough.

To me, the biggest point of interest in this story was actually Ryan. I'm not saying this because of his physical issues and how often people see him because of that although the author did things in such a way that we also gt to see an example of how people in wheelchairs are often treated as incapable by others, as if they lose their adult self due to their physical dependency. What I found more interesting was really his look at life and how he worked so hard in physical therapy to reach a goal his body might not be able to accomplish. I think this side isn't often seen in novels, or the characters are resigned and used to a life of limitation or they miraculously recover. In this case we have the situation in between and I think it added a very emotional and unique look to the whole thing.

The romance was quite a compromise because they both had something to deal with, they both think at some point they might not be the best partner-to-be but they talked about those things, they worked though issues even with some minor setbacks, and I think it was very positive to see how focused they both were in trying to be a good person to be with and not just the best romantic partner.

I had a good time reading this book despite one or two things I wasn't too keen on but the overall impression is a positive one. I think the author had a solid plan with the series and of the three I've read, I'd say this and the 2nd are hand in hand in my appreciation, being both slightly better than the first. This one was a very entertaining story and I also liked the somewhat slow development of the romance.

Grade: 8/10

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