Title: Beta Test (#gaymers #2)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: May 30, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 178
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Ravi Tandel is ahead of the game. He’s a top video game developer and he just got asked to present a top-secret project at a huge gaming conference in Seattle. All systems are a go…until he learns his office nemesis is coming along for the ride. Player vs. Player. Fight!
Newly minted MBA Tristan Jones doesn’t seem like the gaming type but he knows the business inside-out. Together, they’ll give an awesome presentation – they just have to survive the cross-country trip. Ravi’s opinion of Tristan is rebooted when he discovers a softer side to the conservative charmer and a new tension builds between them.
Despite their best efforts to keep it casual, things heat up quickly. Tristan is hiding his true self for fear of what his parents might think. Ravi knows that feeling all too well, but he didn’t disconnect from his family years ago only to hide who he is now. To be together, Tristan has to push past his fear and ultimately decide, does he want a future with Ravi? Or is it game over?
Beta Test is the second book in Annabeth Albert’s #gaymers series, but if you haven’t read Status Report, don’t fret. This book can easily be read as a stand-alone.
Ravi and Tristan meet as new employees at Christopher Exploration Industries, the developer of Space Villager, an online RPG – Ravi as a graphic designer and Tristan in brand management. Ravi, of the lime green skinny jeans, purple loafers and Elvis-esque poofy hair, is the cool kid, while Tristan is the King of the Spreadsheet, or as Ravi calls him “Captain Perfect and the Spreadsheets of Doom.”
Cue food poisoning at the big company party, and suddenly Ravi and Tristan are tasked with driving the truck containing the top-secret Space Villager exhibit / booth to a huge Seattle gaming conference. I should mention at this point that I really liked the plot of this story. However, the book blurb is wildly inaccurate.
Ravi is a graphic designer, not a video game developer; he and Tristan are in charge of delivery and set-up for the Space Villager booth and marketing materials to Seattle and were NOT asked to make a presentation; this is Tristan’s first job without the word “Intern” before the title, so he does NOT “know the business inside-out.” And last time I looked, a trip from Santa Monica to Seattle is NOT a cross-country trip. Okay, removing my Crabbypatty Crabby Hat (Patent Pending) now …..
Spending time together during their long drive, Ravi and Tris start seeing each other in a different light. Ravi finds Tristan so easy to talk to and adores his sweet smile; Tristan learns his type is apparently “high maintenance hipsters with a fleet of hair products and an out-and-proud swagger.” For all their differences, the relationship between Ravi and Tris works because they are two nice guys that bring out the best in each other.
Initially, I disliked Tristan (oops, maybe I took off my Crabby Hat too soon). Yup, he’s a smart guy with a work ethic to die for, but he’s a gaping maw of need, a black hole of uncertainty and doubt. Tristan says things like “I’m sorry if I was a terrible kisser” and “I’m bad in bed, and you’ll get sick of it…” but Ravi finds something admirable and beautiful about Tris and makes us readers believe in him too. And, by the way, Tristan and Ravi are definitely “scorch-the-sheets-hot” together.
“Serious though, that was good? Not just first-time-good but good-good?” “It was most def good-good.” Ravi laughed. It would be easy to pretend like a connection like that happened every time he fucked, let Tristan believe this was simply average sex. But Ravi couldn’t keep his own wonder at bay.”
The flow of the book got a bit bogged down with Tristan’s awful mother, and the drama with Ravi’s sister Avani’s wedding, but I loved the HEA ending and look forward to the next book in the #gaymers series!