I don’t understand my fascination with romances featuring geeky characters in a computer gaming world (yes, I’m 5 books deep in Brenna Aubrey’s Gaming the System series and still going). My computer knowledge is limited to surfing the net and writing emails, and I’m not in the least bit interested in any form of console or online gaming. So how come I love reading about these computer-literate characters whose interests are completely alien from mine? Whatever it is, this book has been added as another proof of how I’m loving these books.
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve last liked both the hero and heroine equally in a book. The author has done such a fine job drawing out these characters that they seem to be real-life, flesh and blood people with principles and motivations that are realistic and believable. The heroine, Isabel Suarez, is a hard-working design manager at PI Games, a game design company. She was sent, along with three other guys in the company, to DiceCon, a gaming convention. At the convention, she discovered that the guys she’s with are running a scavenger hunt and challenge among themselves, partly for a laugh and partly for the prize of an upgrade to first class on the flight home. Like a typical scavenger hunt, it is a list of tasks/challenges that the participant must do during the convention in order to get the corresponding points. Given her competitive streak and her need to be treated as “one of the guys”, Isabel got in the scavenger hunt. While setting up their exhibition stall, Isabel met the hero, Caleb Portland. Caleb is a graphic artist who used to run his own game design firm with a friend until said firm folded up. He’s been applying for work ever since with no success. The only hopeful job prospect he has was with PI Games where he applied for the job of creative manager. Of course, he didn’t let Isabel know about this little tidbit because he is of the opinion, as with everything else in his life, the job application will be another epic fail. Thinking that they won’t see each other again after DiceCon, they both succumbed to the strong attraction between them. And flippin’ heck, did they burn it up during the sexy times! The publisher has got it right marketing this book with a byline of “geeky meets kinky”. Not kinky in the BDSM sense but in the “nerdy artist boy can lay the pipe” sort of sense. Nerdy art boy Caleb finds out about the scavenger hunt, felt used, lose it, leaving Isabel to think their little interlude is finished and done with. Until Caleb showed up at the office as the new hire creative manager.
As I’ve said above, I love the characterisation of the main characters. I love Isabel’s fortitude in working within a male-dominated industry and how she patiently bears the often condescending and chauvinistic attitude of one of her colleagues. Her principles of professionalism and of not giving anyone any space to think of her in a sexual sense are by-products of what she’d endured in her previous job. These principles naturally coloured her handling of the “thing” between her and Caleb. And it made up the complications in an otherwise simple attraction between two single people. With respect to Caleb, I love that he’s different in the sense that he wasn’t written as the typical cocky, so-sure-of-himself, alpha male. I love a confident man, sure, but sometimes, they are overly written in romance novels that it’s refreshing to come across a character resembling a real-life man. Like any normal adult man his age, Caleb has hopes and fears and insecurities that have been shaped by his background and dictate his motivations and actions. I love the interaction between Caleb and Isabel and their chemistry is hot, hot, hot! I totally believe what they say about the silent, nerdy types. They are the wild ones in bed (or out of it).
There are no unnecessary angst and drama that gets on my nerves in this one. Just good ‘ole character development that runs alongside the development of the romantic relationship which the author managed to pull off really well through good writing.
There is a wonderful set of secondary characters that will have their own books in the series, namely, Iris, the HR manager and Matthew, programming manager and Isabel’s closest friend at the company. I will be watching out for all of that because if this first book in the series is any indication, the next books will be a blast.
Hugs,Tags: carmela, Contemporary, Elia Winters, Even Odds, first book in a series, geeky characters, Slices of Pi