Book Review: Highland Games (Kinloch Series, #1) by Evie Alexander

Highland Games (Kinloch Series, #1) by Evie Alexander

A Comedic Romance Novel published by Emlin Press (10/15/21)

Summary:

“Zoe had never seen such perfection before. He was made by mountains, forged by fire, washed by oceans and blessed by the gods.” (Kindle Edition, 31%).

Zoe suddenly inherits a cabin in the woods near a small town in the Scottish Highlands when her great-Uncle dies. Without hesitation, Zoe leaves behind her safe life as an accountant in London as soon as her lease is up. Her childhood summer with her Great Uncle was the greatest, happiest time of her life. But the cabin isn’t the same as it was back then. It’s in less habitable shape than she remembered, with no electricity, water, and no toilet. Not to be deterred, Zoe won’t let anything or anyone get in her way of fixing it up. Rory thought the cabin would be his and his plans to fix it up before the end of the year come to a halt when he finds a surprise city woman claiming it as her own. What can he do to get her to leave?

Keywords:

British Humor, Comedy, Romance, Scotland, Castle, Earl, Sex Scenes, Steamy, Renovation, Cabin, Family, Enemies-to-Lovers, happy Ending, Dual POV

My Review:

I love books where the heroine is out of place, new, and facing a big project when she unintentionally meets the love interest in a surprising meet-cute. The odds are stacked against her succeeding and problems seem to crop up right and left (along with the handsome hunk). Highland Games really delivers exceptionally on some tried and true rom-com tropes such as Fantasy Location, Monetary Leaps of Faith, Kindly Townspeople, Shirtless Hero, Almost Losing it All, and the Central Project is a Metaphor for Their Love. This book reminded me of the Netflix movie rom-com Falling Inn Love. It’s a steamy feel-good casual beach read.

The romantic element is what makes this book so good, especially the slow buildup of the enemies-to-lovers romance that makes the eventual romance so very satisfying. After at least half the book waiting in suspense for the first kiss, the first touch, you will be rewarded with quite a few steamy sex scenes. These scenes were well written and held my attention throughout (I’m known to skim through sex scenes).

The author has the romance beat structure down solid and the pacing is excellent. Every scene was satisfying from beginning to end. The climax felt real and well integrated into the plot of the story and the ending was very satisfying.

I loved all the characters. They were all so well written. The main characters, Zoe and Rory, seemed like such amazing people, but still relatable as humans. I couldn’t get enough of both Rory’s POV and Zoe’s POV and I really enjoyed the switching POV between Rory and Zoe as they each told their side of the story. The way Zoe describes Rory, especially at first, is hilarious.

Both Zoe and Rory have a purpose outside of the slowly building romance. They each also had their own backstory that made them very compelling. I really liked how both main characters were completely independent people and didn’t need the other to complete themselves, which made their love even more compelling.

This novel was published by Emlin Press on 10/15/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Author Bio:

Evie Alexander is the author of sexy romantic comedies with a very British sense of humor. She takes a method-approach to her work, believing her capacity to repeatedly fail at life and love is what has given her such a rich supply of material for her writing.

Her interests include reading, eating, saving the world, and fantasizing about people who only exist between the pages of her books. She lives in the West Country with her family.

Links for more information:

Book Review: Sex & Sours (The Cocktail Series Book 2) by Dani McLean

Sex & Sours (The Cocktail Series Book 2) by Dani McLean

A Romance Novel published by Set the Mood Publishing (10/05/21)

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery

Summary:

“I learned three important lessons in that time; learn the recipe but always cook from the heart; always say f*** you with a smile, and there was nothing more impressive than someone with a kind soul.” (Kindle Edition 19%).

Tiff has been the head bartender for years. She basically runs the place. That is, until owner Henry hands over the keys and the reigns to his older brother Sam. Sam has a lot to prove after losing control of his own business back in New York. When it comes to making decisions, Sam is in total control, but he’ll have to get Tiff on board and she is definitely not a yes-person! Will their bickering be the end of the bar or will they be able to work together to save what they both love?

Keywords:

Steamy, Sex, Romance, Cocktails, Drinking, Best Friends, Dual POV, Overworked, Relationship, Acceptance, Owner, Head Bartender, Boundaries, Communication, Boss/Employee Relationship

My Review:

All throughout the first book Love & Rum, I was entranced by Tiff. She is one of those larger-than-life people that makes me yearn for my own best friend just like her. She is one of a kind, honest, true to herself, beautiful, and talented. She also has her own set of unique flaws and backstories. As an introvert, I’m in love with Tiff and her charm. I don’t want to just have a best friend like her, I also want to be her. I want to be confident in who I am, hardworking, and clever. I can also relate to Tiff and her problems, some of them growing out of her flaws and some of the outcomes of her reactions to the situations she’s thrust into. She can be a hothead, speaking her mind, even when she knows there will be blowback and I love her for this.

I absolutely love how the author is able to show bisexuality through Tiff, her relationships, and her thoughts about those relationships. As someone much closer to the heterosexual end of the spectrum, the way the author cleverly wrote about Tiff and her romantic relationships really helped me empathize. I will never truly understand or be able to sympathize because my own experience will also be lacking. Through powerfully written characters like Tiff, I can put myself in her shoes and begin to appreciate the difficulties, triumphs, stresses, and prejudices a bi person may face. That’s why characters like Tiff and books like Sex & Sours are so important.

Sam has his own distinctive personality (and POV chapters) but is sometimes overshadowed by the force of nature that is Tiff. He has his own set of flaws and is a fully fleshed-out lead interest which I very much appreciated.

The world of The Cocktail Series continues with the characters Jackson and Audrey from book one but doesn’t much advance their story as this second book is all about Tiff and Sam and their journey.

The style of this book two in the series is true to the tone set in book one Love & Rum. This romantic comedy will appeal to most romance readers who enjoy dual POV, lots of steamy sex scenes, and a happy ending.

I can’t wait to read the next novel by this author and/or in this series. Not only did I feel like I learned something, but it was also a very enjoyable book to read.

This novel was published by Set theMood Publishing on 10/05/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Dani McLean’s Website

Book Review: Love, Comment, Subscribe (Ponto Beach Reunion #1) by Cathy Yardley

Love, Comment, Subscribe (Ponto Beach Reunion #1) by Cathy Yardley

A Romance published by Brilliance Audio (10/01/21)

Summary:

Lily always wanted to be popular. Even as an adult with a mildly successful beauty Youtube channel, the impressionable rejection by two members of the in-crowd in high school is still on her mind. She’s still proving to herself and to them in her mind that she’s made it. Her agent; however, thinks she’s hit a plateau and unless she can reach a milestone of five million subscribers, she won’t have the success of her own makeup line.

Tobin has always been part of the Nerd Herd and now capitalizes on that as part of his Gaming Youtube channel. Lately, though, he’s felt burnt out and he’s been having a hard time thinking of exciting new content. He’s just tired.

Can Tobin and Lily, after years apart, team up for some video collaborations or are they too different? Even though their current goals align – make good content, they have entirely different styles and will clash at every turn. But the internet thinks they have insane chemistry. When will the two of them realize they really do compliment each other?

Keywords:

Influencer, In-Crowd, Pressures, Videos, Youtube, Gamer, Beauty Influencer, Collab, Romance, Friendship, Popular Crowd, Contemporary, Swearing

My Review:

I love Cathy Yardley romances. I love how very contemporary they are. This book, especially, is very much contemporary as it deals with influencers on social media. I also love a good enemies-to-lovers romance trope, even though this book isn’t entirely an enemies-to-lovers cliche. What I love most about a well-written enemies-to-lovers book is how slow the buildup of the romance is, how much time it takes for the main characters to get over their prejudices against each other and ever so slowly fall in love (and oftentimes don’t realize they’re falling for each other until they have to finally admit that they are in love).

For anyone fixated on social media or interested in the day-to-day life of an influencer, this book will satisfy that craving. I like to learn something when reading casually and enjoyed the influencer-heavy descriptions and explanations and focused scenes in this book. For some, it might be overwhelming, but I really liked this theme.

The two main characters, Lily and Tobin, were relatable and likable. I loved getting to know them through each others’ eyes. Both are on the outside of popularity growing up and break into their own niche popularity through their social media accounts as adults. I, too, was part of a fringe clique in high school and related very much to Lily and Tobin’s experience in high school. It was interesting and heartbreaking to get Lily’s perspective as she experienced rejection as both a teenager and an adult.

This novel was published by Brilliance Audio on 10/01/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Cathy Yardley’s Website

Book Review: I.C.Q.: A Novel By Og Maciel

I.C.Q.: A Novel By Og Maciel

A YA Contemporary Romance Novel published by Og Maciel (02/09/21)

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery as an ARC

Summary:

Auggie is a senior who spends most of his spare time teaching himself coding and freelancing his skills to earn some money. He meets Clarissa online in a chat platform and quickly falls head over heels for this girl he’s never met in person.

Keywords:

High School, Epistolary, Coding, Online Persona, Self-Taught, Online Games, Computers, 90’s, Online Relationship, Romance, Pop Culture, Dating

My Review:

I was a child of the ’90s and was never into computers like the main character Auggie. He is at the forefront of coding and using home computing technology when it first came out. It’s fascinating to read books like I.C.Q because of our culture (and generation’s) obsession with technology. The home computer of the ’90s is like the personal phone of the 2000s. New and exciting and, of course, the parents just don’t get it. I could really feel Auggie’s excitement and his passion for working with computers, software development, and coding. I sympathized with him so much when his parents dismissed his work with the computer as just a hobby and not that important. Maciel really brought this relationship alive and I wished I was into coding!

The very adult conversations that Auggie has with his parents are awesome and rather fascinating. He’s levelheaded and can provide an outside – almost- perspective. With his own relationship, he is anything but objective. He gets caught up in his own feelings and emotions and reactions to the point where he doesn’t even realize that his girlfriend might also be hurt and upset. He is a great model of showing growth and communication in a romantic relationship.

I pulled out my high school love notes because of this book and they were just as sappy and romantic as the correspondence between Auggie and Clarissa in the back half of this story. The overly dramatic way they write to each is very much the essence of a high school romance. I might have rolled my eyes a few times, but reading their letters reminded me of my 17-year old self away on an adventure and constantly writing love notes to send in the mail to my boyfriend of the time. This book will bring out all the nostalgia and is very authentic to teenage drama and heartache. If you would like the nostalgic feeling of teenage love, you’ll definitely enjoy the emotion this book brings out.

The format of this novel changed a bit over halfway through and you’ll be reading those love letters for most of the rest of the chapters.

The ending was disappointing for me. It lacked a satisfying conclusion and a sense of closure for the characters and their relationship. I prefer to have a closed ending. If you’re a reader who doesn’t mind open endings, you might not be disappointed because there is a lesson learned and Auggie does express his thoughts about what happens in the end.

This novel was published by Og Maciel on 02/09/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Og Maciel’s Website

Book Review: Latent By Raegan Salander

Latent By Raegan Salander

A Romance Novel published by SK indent (05/22/21)

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery as an ARC

Summary:

Aliens live among humans – but relations between the races aren’t perfect. Arwen isn’t certain that everything is perfect even though she has a fiancé, best friend, and a job prospect. Her life is shattered when she’s kidnapped by aliens and held against her will in an alien prison. Though they don’t always treat her well and don’t always understand the needs of humans, especially since they have different anatomy, Arwen can’t stop thinking about her captors. Fate and what happens to her may come down to her very DNA.

Keywords:

Rape, Sex, Children, Fate, DNA, Aliens, Prison, Abuse, Torture, Betrayal, Ambition, Infertility, Polyamory

My Review:

Latent is categorized as a dark dystopian romance. I did not get the sense that the world Salander builds in this novel is dark or that it delves too deep into dystpoia. Yes, there are aliens and no, they don’t live in harmony with humans but Arwen’s story is the focus of the book. Arwen’s story is dark. Trigger warning that this novel contains multiple rape scenes. A lot of this book read like literotica and if that’s your thing you might really enjoy this fictional work. The characters refer to rape as violence but don’t explicitly name it as rape. Perhaps in this world the definition of rape is different but both Arwen and the aliens acknowledges that this violence against Arwen is wrong.

The Descriptions of the aliens were the perfect length – enough to give me a sense for what they looked like without dragging. The book’s plot was also well-paced and didn’t drag.

I really like the olfactory sense use in this book, especially to differentiate between some of the main characters. The author used these differing scents cleverly and really made the world come alive for the senses.

There were a number of missing dialogue tags and some issues with the dialogue formatting. Paired with the unique otherworldly names that I couldn’t pronounce and some of the sameness between characters (especially those of the same species), I was often confused over when someone was talking and who was talking. I also didn’t differentiate between several of the aliens for quite some time and wasn’t sure which one had done certain actions. This story features multiple POVs but I felt at times that the aliens‘ POVs weren’t differentiated enough and the plot moved fast enough that several of the aliens felt the same to me.

The book could use a good once over by a line editor, especially regarding those dialogue tags. Also – the written out contractions were distracting in the beginning of the book.

That being said, I couldn’t seem to look away from this book. It was oddly fascinating to me and it’s fast pace kept me reading until the very end.

This novel was published by SK indent on 05/22/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Raegan Salander’s Website

Book Review: Love & Rum (The Cocktail Series Book 1) by Dani McLean

Love & Rum (The Cocktail Series Book 1) by Dani McLean

A Romance Novel published by Mood Publishing (07/06/21)

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery

Summary:

It’s been one year since Audrey got her divorce and she’s ready to move on. Jackson has never been in a serious relationship because he’s too busy acting in a hit TV show and he’s never wanted more than a one-night stand. Audrey just wants something casual and Jackson is just the man for the job! First, the one-night stand turns into something casual. Then they start to develop feelings for each other. Is Audrey really ready to move on? Is Jackson really ready for a long-term relationship?

Keywords:

Steamy, Sex, Romance, Cocktails, Drinking, Best Friends, Dual POV, Actor, TV Show, Divorced, Overworked, One Night Stand, Relationship, Past Emotional Abuse

 

My Review:

Love & Rum is a slow to develop romance for the reader even though it is hot and fast for the two main characters. The two main characters, Jackson and Audrey, are complex, fully formed, and well-rounded characters. During the course of the novel, they both grow personally as well as together in their relationship. There is a perfect balance of narrative devoted to their separate lives and their growing relationship together as a couple. When they are together, a lot of the focus is on their physical relationship. This makes sense since they originally met as a one-night stand and progress to casual sex at the beginning of their relationship.

Though a lot of the time Jackson and Audrey spend together is spent physically, the scenes are exceptionally well written. The sex scenes are very steamy but still feature consensual and communicative sex as the norm. I really, really enjoyed the emotional component and the running commentary of the characters during these scenes.

Both Audrey and Jackson tell their story with their own chapter POVs. The POV switching was seamless between the two characters and balanced quite well by the author.

Understated but not overlooked is the diversity of sexual preferences in this book.

Though I absolutely loved both Audrey and Jackson as well as their individual journeys, I could not get enough of best friend Tiff. Everyone needs a best friend like her and I can’t wait to read her story (assuming she has her own book in this Cocktail Series. 

The plot appears simple but the story is told well, the characters are emotionally gripping, and the scenes are well chosen. I could see where the climax was coming from immediately but the ending was emotionally satisfying and optimistic. The extra chapters at the end that tied up the narrative serving as an epilogue were well placed and I appreciated having a completed and full ending.

This romance novel will appeal to most romance readers who enjoy dual POV, lots of steamy sex scenes, and a happy ending.

I can’t wait to read the next novel by this author and/or in this series.

This novel was published by Mood Publishing on 07/06/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Dani McLean’s Website

Book Review: These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden

These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden

A Dark Romantic Fantasy Novel Independently published (03/31/21)

Summary:

“The eyes gave away most. Even humans.” (Location 754).

Thistle and Thorn are some of the last remaining free humans on Earth. The arrival of aliens from a tear in the fabric of the universe was the end of humans’ topping the food chain. The aliens, Suriias, have several different species but most are of the same mindset – that humans are lesser beings, pets, and sometimes food.

Thistle and Thorn have survived their whole lives in hiding, but they are determined to find their parents’ killer in the capital city of Courtenz. In order to navigate more freely, they decide to attach themselves to a pair of Suriias, Thistle as fiancée and Thorn as a tagalong. Thistle embraces this new life, this chance at normalcy, but Thorn is convinced that Suriias can only ever be the enemy.

Keywords:

Magic, Aliens, Technology, Flying Cars, Multiple Worlds, Multiple POV, Sisters, Brothers, Friends, Love, Romance, Sacrifice, Revenge, Fighting, Death

My Review:

I’m reticent to read fantasy and longer novels because they often drag, but this book didn’t feel like it was 600+ pages long. This book read like a satisfying trilogy all-in-one and I’m glad the author took time to give it proper pacing and an exciting and gratifying ending.

Another reason I’m reticent to read fantasy is that it takes me longer than with other genres to get into the story. I fell in love with the characters of this world before I fell in love with the world, but I was soon hooked on the world with its technology and magic. After getting through the first chapter, I couldn’t put this story down.

This novel is like two stories in one, but I was caught off guard when halfway through the book we leave Thorn’s story behind to focus on Lucian (I may have made an indignant sound at this point). I was so very, very engrossed in Thorn’s story that I didn’t want to leave her behind, though I quickly decided that I wanted more of Lucian’s story.

Crunden took no shortcuts and didn’t fall into quick stereotypes with her characters and her romances. I love the way she writes her characters and builds a romance.

This was an exceptional story with enticing characters and a seamlessly flowing writing style.

I can’t wait to read the next novel by this author!

This novel was Independently published on 03/31/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Rebecca Crunden’s Website

Book Review: Rebuilding Alexandra Small by Mo Fanning

Rebuilding Alexandra Small by Mo Fanning

A Comedic Fiction Novel published by Spring Street Books (06/04/21)

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery

Summary:

Allie Small was an alcoholic. Now she’s been sober for years, is married to a rising-star athlete, and is trying for a baby. Everything is on the up and up until she finds out that her husband has been having an affair with their fertility doctor. Not only that, but somehow the media keeps getting ahold of all the most sordid details of Allie’s troubles. It appears that someone from her past has it out for her.

Keywords:

WAG, Alcoholism, Press, Rumor, Gossip, Work, Love, Backstabbing, Media

My Review:

This book was refreshing, but at the same time had me biting my nails with mild anxiety. I never knew what was going to befall the main character Allie next. Nothing terrible happens to her, but every day some new annoyance, mishap, snide comment, or bullying occurs. At times I felt sorry for Allie and at other times I blamed her. Allie is not perfect, hasn’t always made great decisions, and sometimes lashes out. She’s like one version of ourselves, the version we are always trying to hide. Yet even then, I envy her. Allie doesn’t suppress herself. She reacts. She says what she shouldn’t and acts on impulse… but not all the time. She is trying to pick up her pieces and move on with her life, except she’s been thrust into a state of limbo. Mo Fanning has cleverly crafted this complex environment for Allie and I was enthralled watching the ups and downs of her everyday life within this environment. I was forever guessing what she would do or say next. I couldn’t put the book down. I was very curious about what was going to happen next. My life feels like it’s so different from Allie’s and I found her absolutely fascinating.

Allie is a WAG, thrust into the media and spotlight (mostly for her shortcomings or any negative drama surrounding her) because she’s married to a well-known athlete. Every time someone recognizes Allie on the street, I was not shocked at the interactions, but disgusted by the media’s negative portrayal of her. This is a reality of pop news and it was maddening to see Allie have to deal with this type of bullying. Allie wasn’t always nice to others growing up, so perhaps the way people see her and treat her now might be some kind of karma, but she doesn’t deserve it! Nobody does. The small window into the nasty way celebrities and those in the media are treated was both fascinating and saddening.

I felt like I was reading a mid-life crisis in action. Allie runs the gamut of moods, from hopeful to impassive to angry and worked up.

I was intrigued by Allie’s relationship with her husband, her friends, and people in the media. The book features heavy dialogue that is well-written and really tells the whole story.

For those who love some good gossip and day-to-day comedic tragedy, this is the book for you!

This novel was published by Spring Street Books 06/04/21 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Mo Fanning’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: We’ve let her know: about love, fate, and online dating by Etienne Bijnens

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We’ve let her know: about love, fate, and online dating by Etienne Bijnens

A Contemporary Romance Novel published by Baartele Press (03/27/21)

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery

Summary:

“I pretend I have no ulterior motive other than to meet new people in a city where everybody is too afraid to look anyone in the eyes.” (Page 84).

Lyam is about to relocate from South Africa to London. He doesn’t want to be lonely so joins an online dating app to look for likely prospects in his new hometown. Immediately he finds Anna and plans to meet her the first day he arrives in London. But Anna isn’t the one. Neither is Kyra, Fiona, or the hundreds of other women Lyam meets up with or messages. Lyam will have to either evolve his approach to online dating or his mindset and expectations of the women he meets.

Keywords:

Love, Travel, Study Abroad, Band, Singer, Artist, Photography, England, Farewell, Bandmates, Best Friends, Brothers, Adoption, Family, Violin, Fate

My Review:

This book did not follow the typical three-act story structure but the writing style and flow of the novel reeled me in from the very beginning. It felt like the book meandered with purpose as if it was following its own structure related to the various stages of online dating. The ending came full circle and was immensely satisfying in an “aha” type moment of release. This book meets the happy ending requirement of typical romance novels, though it may take a roundabout way to get there.

The story is told through the lens of the main character Lyam as he navigates online dating for the first time. Without any guides or cheats, he will learn what most people eventually learn from online dating. Lyam will go through each of the stages of online dating hilariously, jumping to all the conclusions and hitting upon all the issues along the way. If you ever wanted a practical guide to online dating and what’s in store for you as a man trying to find “the one” then this is the perfect comical perspective. Learn what pitfalls to avoid and what perspective you should have when going into online dating while following along with Lyam and his story through several years of his life in London. His experience is both general and specific enough with online dating to provide a guide of how to adapt your expectations for online dating through the changing perspective Lyam has for his own experiences.

Can you optimize your approach to online dating, the way you structure your profile, or how you communicate with potential matches? Lyam certainly thinks he can and his attempts to do so are fascinating and his mindset before, during, and after are even more fascinating. At times they are downright comical.

This book was very relatable as well as eye-opening for what someone on the other side of the online dating match is thinking.

Lyam’s search for love wasn’t the only story told in this book. I was just as interested in Brett and Richard and how their quest for love would turn out. I was most interested in the relationship between Lyam, Brett, and Richard and how wholesome their friendship remained throughout the novel. At times I thought Lyam was being a shallow jerk when he dismissed the women he met with but then his easygoing nature with his buddies endeared him again as a sympathetic individual.

If you want to dive deep into online dating and the male perspective, you will enjoy this book as long as you don’t mind the meandering story focussed on Lyam’s changing perspective about online dating.

This novel was published by Baartele Press on 03/27/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.00

Links for more information:

Etienne Bijnens‘ Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Welcome to LEGEND: A Gamer Romance Novel by Michael Loring

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Welcome to LEGEND: A Gamer Romance Novel by Michael Loring

A Contemporary Gamer Romance Novel published by Independently published (02/12/21)

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery

Summary:

“People needed to come in-store to order the Helmet that would best fit their unique head shape, which meant I spent most of my work days measuring peoples’ heads. It was a living.” Michael Loring. Welcome to Legend (Kindle Locations 168-170).

Cole would rather play video games. It’s much easier for him to relax in game than around other people. When the largest VRMMORPG is released, he’s hooked. While playing this game, Legend, he meets another passionate gamer who happens to be female. Could this be the start of a new friendship, or perhaps something more?

Keywords:

Gamer, Romance, VR, MMORPG, Video Game, Gamer, Friends, College, Depression, Therapy, Retail

My Review:

Cole is in some ways a stereotypical introverted gamer. He’s a white male in college, nervous around women, jocks, and strangers. He’d rather be gaming than socializing.

This story is all about Cole. The main story focuses on Cole and his discomfort around other people, his social awkwardness, and his constant – often negative – inner monologue. This inner conflict is fascinating. There isn’t as much external conflict present but more day-to-day drama built around the main character. The stakes are not that high. If you like books centered on characters, their environment and how they interact with that environment, you will enjoy this short novel. I personally really enjoy inner-conflict contemporary novels because I feel like I truly get to know and understand the main character. I empathize with Cole. Though I have never experienced more than a day’s depression here and there (and only mildly) I started to understand why Cole thought the way he did and I was able to sympathize with him.

My college life was similar in some aspects to Cole’s. I’ve had to work when I was sick, to suck it up and put on a smile. It’s tough having a full college class load and adding on many hours at a minimum wage job dealing with idiots all day. I’ve had to push myself to be social and extroverted. Though my thoughts never spiraled as much as Cole’s, I understand his thoughts of self-doubt, assumptions about others, and even his depression. He easily spirals into self-negative thinking though he seems like a very likeable guy! More extroverts should read books like these so they can understand how difficult navigating the world can be when you’re introverted and self-conscious.

The romance was adorable and I was both rooting for Cole and very, very worried that he was relying on a relationship for his mental health.

The world in Welcome to Legend is not unlike our contemporary world, though game tech for VR has evolved much more than our current tech.

I really enjoyed how the author, through Cole, has a no-nonsense way of describing the world around him and that of Legend. There’s no condescension for those who aren’t familiar and no assumptions that people already know what he knows. As someone who isn’t a big gamer, this was a lovely introduction to the passions and new worlds of gaming.

I cannot help but compare Welcome to Legend to the popular sci-fi novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. They both build a gaming world from futuristic VR tech and feature young male protagonists. This book is much more focused on Cole than on the world falling apart around him like in Ready Player One. Cole is in his own world, seemingly independent from society.

This novel was Independently published on 02/12/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.00

Links for more information:

Official Facebook Page

Goodreads