Monday, July 6, 2015

Book Spotlight for Gaming the System by Laura K. Curtis (Review)

The theme of opposites attracting is a favorite amongst romance readers and is on display in the fun and flirty Gaming the System by Laura K. Curtis.  Keep reading to get a glimpse of this second installment in the Goody's Goodies series, along with my impressions of it, and then add it to your bookshelf!

Opposites Attract
I love romance novels with heroes and heroines who are opposites because it’s so hard to figure out how the couple will get together in the end, even once they’ve decided they want to. It allows for such delicious tension! I always thought, growing up, that I would end up with someone sort of like me. Not necessarily from the same cultural background (I went to a very diverse school so I knew people from loads of different backgrounds), but someone with the same goals and ideals. I wasn’t sure precisely what that would look like (hey, I was young), but I was sure that’s how it would be.
Fast forward a bunch of years. I was in grad school, older than most of my classmates because I’d taken years off to work, with no prospects of romance. My mother was tired of waiting for grandchildren because none of my siblings had provided any, either. So for my birthday one year she got me a matchmaking service. This was back in the days before internet dating, when you had to go into an office and fill out a huge long questionnaire and be interviewed by women who discussed every aspect of your life and then tried to set you up. I told them I wanted someone who valued the same things I did—ambition, education, social justice. Someone I could come home from grad school and discuss the intellectual things I’d been into that day. I didn’t need them to understand what I was studying, but I wanted them to be inherently interested in studying something. I thought, “this is Austin, Texas. It can’t be that hard to find someone like that.”
It was a disaster.
The closest I came to connecting with any of the dates they set me up on was with a guy who played piano in bars for a living. Well, I got the sense that he did that for some money but that his actual living was probably made from a trust or investments. He was very nice, but there was no spark.
Fast forward again. I gave up on the dating service and eventually met my husband. He is…none of the things I expected. None of the things I would have said I wanted. In fact, he’s my opposite in many, may ways. When I met my husband, he didn’t have a place to live. He was a road manager for rock bands, living on a bus 46 weeks a year and then taking a 6 week vacation when the bands were not touring. He barely graduated high school and couldn’t care less about academic achievement. His deeper values—equal rights for all, kindness and care—those are the same as mine, but his background and focus could not be more different.
And he is perfect for me.
To me, that’s the essential appeal of the opposites attracting story. The idea that we think we know what’s best for us, but we don’t. Love is unexpected, even shocking. Why this person? Why now? And how—given all those differences—how are we ever going to make it work now that we know we want to? We love to watch heroes and heroines try to find their way to each other in those instances.

As the punk-goth manager of Las Vegas’s premiere adult toy store, Kai Tyler changes her hair color, nail color, and eye color the way some people change socks. In fact, she’s even changed her name. She owes no one, depends on no one, and stopped believing in happily ever after before she reached the age of ten. All she really wants out of life is a few good gadgets and the occasional day of pampering once in a while.
Luke Clarke loves his family, but he has no desire to fulfill his parents’ dream by getting married and going into politics. So when he’s invited to his sister’s week-long wedding gala, he asks Kai along as a decoy. Having a date will squelch his mother’s matchmaking attempts and Kai’s outrageous appearance might—just might—convince his family once and for all that he’ll never have a career in politics.
But as stress, desire, and close quarters eat away at the masks both Luke and Kai wear, their easy arrangement begins to transform into something neither expected. Will they cling to the stable roles of the past, or bet on an uncertain future together?





Readers who enjoy romances featuring opposites attracting will find themselves charmed by this tale from the first page to the last.  With its colorful characters and steamy encounters evolving from a sweet and endearing friendship based on a lie you can't help but root for a HEA between Luke and Kai.  

From the moment he decides to take Kai to his sister's wedding Luke knows his life will never be the same as his plan to stay far away from love and commitment brings it ever closer as he and Kai discover their supposed differences make them the perfect match.  Unlike his parents, class differences don't mean anything to him as he doesn't judge Kai by her bright cover.  Luke's a hardworking man who wants to forge his own path in life away from his parents machinations and Kai's to be his buffer during the week-long wedding festivities.  Everything about her that upsets his parents excites him though and pulls him to her in a combustible connection that quickly morphs from friends to lovers.  By story's end readers are just as surprised as Luke by their deep emotional connection and just as charmed by Kai's sparkling personality.

Kai might drape herself in a rainbow of colors but it belies a past of darkness, a past that I would've liked to know more about.  She's a strong-willed and outspoken woman, full of artistic talent, but has never allowed herself to get close to others.  Being with Luke though has her showing him glimpses of her true self and over their week together their supposed differences bind them together and had me cheering them on towards HEA.

This book's theme may be familiar but it's a feeling of comfort from start to finish as the characters charm you with their fun and flirty banter and honest talk.  Their initial connection may be based on a lie but the feelings that result are honest and heartfelt.  The sexual interludes are also scorching and further expressed Kai's carefree nature and Luke's embracing of a life lived for oneself.  Surrounding this likable main couple is the intriguing and exciting backdrop of Goody's Goodies Sex Toy Store which brings in colorful customers and is staffed by an even more colorful group who slowly integrate themselves into Kai's life.  Celia's the dancer and writer who wants to be so much more and still believes in love, while Joe is the sexy MMA fighter whose heart was broken by Luke's sister.  Both of these characters endeared themselves to me and I hope to see more of them in the future.  Readers looking for a charming and heartwarming story will get just that as well as a steamy tale proving that love comes when you least expect it.

My rating for this is a B.

*I got this book from NetGalley for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Laura K. Curtis does everything backwards. As a child, she was extremely serious, so now that she’s chronologically an adult, she feels perfectly justified in acting the fool. She started teaching at age fifteen, then decided to go back to school herself at thirty.
Laura has taught middle school social studies, high school literature, and college-level rhetoric, all with relative success. She’s also a full-on Mac geek who spent years as a consultant and running an academic computing lab. The only thing she completely failed at in the field of education was attempting to teach obedience to her pack of Irish Terriers. Currently, she lives in Westchester, NY, with her husband and two insane Irish Terriers who have taught her how easily love can coincide with the desire to kill.

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