Thursday, December 10, 2015

Book Tour for Status Update by Annabeth Albert (Review & GIVEAWAY)

Since her very first book Ms. Albert has quickly become a favorite when it comes to satisfying m/m reads and with this first installment in her #gaymers series I'm guaranteed more delightful stories to come.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Status Update by Annabeth Albert, along with my impressions of it, and learn even more about it by visiting the other sites hosting this tour.  In honor of this series starter make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $25 Amazon GC too!

Adrian Gottlieb is winning at life. He’s a successful video game designer with everything a man could ask for, including a warm comfy ride to Denver and a date for his sister’s wedding. But he finds himself in need of a total reboot when he's left stranded at a snowy campground in Utah. Holiday plans? Epic fail.
That is until Noah Walters offers him shelter for the night and a reluctant cross-country ride. Nothing about the ultraconservative geoarchaeologist should attract Adrian, but once he discovers Noah’s hidden love for video games, the two connect on a new level. Soon, a quiet but undeniable chemistry sparks.
Something doesn’t add up, though. As the miles accumulate and time runs out, Noah must face the most difficult choice of his life. Meanwhile, Adrian must decide whether he’s ready to level up. Is their relationship status worth fighting for, or has this game ended before it's even begun?


Noah knew the dog was trouble as soon as he and Ulysses entered the campground’s off-leash dog area. The little guy—some sort of Chihuahua/mini-pin mix in a yellow-and-green checked coat—stood in the center of the scrubby grass, barking his fool head off. The only human in the dog area sat at the picnic table on the far side, completely absorbed in his shiny phone, oblivious to his dog strutting around like all eight pounds of him would be enough to keep potential threats out.

Ulysses gave Noah a look, like "you really expect me to ignore that?" Noah tightened his hold on the tennis ball chucker. Ulysses never did well competing with smaller dogs for his toys. He unclipped Ulysses with a stern look.
“Be good.”
Still yapping, the little dog rushed over to inspect his new enemy. Predictably, Ulysses wandered away to do his business. He was too old for these sorts of games.
Noah gave a halfhearted wave in the direction of the owner, but the guy didn't look up from his phone. The young guy was a typical hipster tourist--thick tortoise-framed glasses, artfully messed-up dark hair, with a thick purple streak, falling over his forehead. Slim build, but his wide shoulders stretched his too-thin jacket, making the shiny fabric ripple with his motions. He wasn't any more prepared for November in Utah than his designer dog. Still, he was a cute guy, if one was the type to notice things like that, which Noah was not.
Noah looked away, studying the sheer cliffs that surrounded the Capitol Reef National Park. Didn’t matter how much time he spent in Southern Utah, he never got tired of the view. Phone guy was missing the light shifting into one of those perfect late fall sunsets that made the early dusk worth the loss of daylight. Pink streaks mingled with gray sky to cast a rosy glow over the scrubby grass and low fence of the dog area.
Rowwwr. Ulysses flopped at Noah's feet, a deep beseeching whine rattling out of his barrel chest. He was eighty pounds of unhappy. He'd waited patiently all afternoon while Noah worked, and now he was missing out on his ball time thanks to the teacup gatekeeper.
"Okay, but play nice." Noah threw the ball hard with the chucker toy, going for enough distance to outstrip the tiny dog's ability to keep up with Ulysses. Not surprisingly, the little guy was tenacious, cutting off Ulysses's path to the ball. Ulysses gave a warning woof, and Noah broke into a run, heading after the dogs.
“Down,” he called out. Ulysses wouldn’t attack the smaller dog, but he wasn’t above a major tantrum. And despite the smaller dog acting as instigator, people would see the huge black dog and toss out the “aggressor” label. Noah preferred to exercise him late in the day—Ulysses simply didn’t enjoy playing with other dogs, and Noah wasn’t one to force his dog into uncomfortable situations.
The little dog stood over the ball, yapping up a storm while Ulysses barked and growled, ignoring Noah’s command to sit.
Finally, the owner hefted himself off the picnic bench.
“Pixel, baby, what are you doing?” the owner called in a melodic voice that didn’t inspire Noah’s confidence in the man’s ability to control his dog. “Did the big doggie scare you?"
Hah. Typical. Noah snorted. "Can you grab the ball?" He didn't trust those little dog breeds--too quick to snap. He'd nearly been bitten trying to retrieve a ball more than once.
“Oh sure.” The guy reached under Pixel—typical cutesy name for an annoying dog—and delicately plucked the ball free, but instead of handing it to Noah, he gave it a toss, sending both dogs running.
Oh great. Noah let out a slow breath, little puffs of vapor in the crisp evening air that did nothing to defuse his tension.
“It’ll be okay.” The way-too-handsy guy patted the sleeve of Noah’s parka. “They just need to work it out. Pixel loves to play."
Noah took a step to the side. Who did that? Touched complete strangers? But the guy kept up his friendly grin, not unlike his dog, who kept gamely chasing Ulysses. Ulysses won the race to the ball this time and hightailed it back to Noah. Not releasing his prize, he whined softly.
“Hey, boy. You got a toy?” The guy knelt to dog level and extended a hand, but instead of sniffing, Ulysses shook his head.
"Sorry. He's not much on new people." Neither am I. Noah's voice sounded rough to his own ears--too many days with only Ulysses to talk to.
“It’s okay.” The guy straightened, then extended a hand to Noah. “I’m Adrian Gottlieb. You been at Capitol Reef long?"
“Couple of weeks.” He returned Adrian’s handshake, hating it when a little buzz shot up his arm. Unlike his own gloved hand, Adrian’s hand was bare, a hint of a tattoo playing peekaboo with his cuff, his grip strong and firm. And Noah had absolutely no business noticing anything more than the guy’s relentless friendliness.
Adrian smiled expectantly as he released Noah’s hand.
"Oh, I'm Noah. And that's Ulysses," he added, because dog people always wanted to know all about the dog. No doubt the guy was bursting to tell Pixel's life story.
"Add-dreee-an," a heavily accented voice called from the gate. A beefy guy close to Noah's age leaned on the fence, bald head gleaming in the setting sun. "I'm lonely. When are you coming back?"
“Coming,” Adrian shouted, then gave Noah a shrug with a “what can you do?” expression on his face. He grabbed Pixel and jogged across the field.
Noah nodded like he knew anything about handling demanding friends. Adrian greeted the mammoth dude with a quick peck. Okay then. Not a friend. He should have guessed, but he was a bit slow about relationship stuff. The country was changing, even way out here, but no one would dare try even that much PDA in his tiny West Texas college town. His stomach gave a weird flip--not quite discomfort, but something else he refused to name. Time to return his attention to Ulysses. He hurled the tennis ball as hard as he could.





In the crowded field of m/m romances, Ms. Albert has quickly made a niche for herself due to her charming characters and heartwarming, entertaining dialogue.  Her leads aren't cookie cutter in their looks or attitudes, they're definitely memorable and you can't help being drawn to them.  With this series starter readers are introduced to two men haunted by the failure of their parent's marriages which leaves both of them lonely.  Add in fears of coming out for one of them and the emotional impact becomes heightened.  From the first page to the last I found myself fully immersed in this sweet and sentimental journey towards HEA that had a few bumps along the way.

Noah is used to being alone as his job in archaeology often takes him to remote digs. He's currently researching for a book that he hopes will grant him tenure at a college known for its strict stance on morality.  As he gets closer to completing his writing though he's starting to feel restless.  The words of his overbearing father about sticking with goals also weighs on him as he fears disappointing his family.  His accidental meeting with the outgoing Adrian becomes a spark to the ember of doubts that have been weighing on him and leads to a journey of self-discovery for him and the unwavering acceptance he's always longed for.  Noah's a man aching for love with his feelings of loneliness palpable as he's denied himself any hint of affection for fear of his sexuality being discovered.  He's denied himself a life, living as a shell of a man, burdened by trying to live up to other's expectations.  It all brought a tear to my eye and with each baby step he made with Adrian I was left cheering.  Noah's fears had held him back for so long that it was as if a weight had been lifted off him and though he was uptight and overly serious at the start he became more lighthearted as the story progressed.

Adrian's relationships have mostly been of the long distance variety.  He's always been a bit unlucky in love too, but getting left at an RV Park by his latest boyfriend who he just met in person, is an all new low for him.  Luckily Noah's there to save him from the humiliation, as he sees it, of attending his sister's wedding alone.  Meeting Noah also opens his eyes to his own fears that have been holding him back.  His long distance relationships have ultimately become a self-fulfilling prophecy where they end with very little heartache.  He's extremely kindhearted but doesn't feel as though he deserves more.  He'll accept any crumb of affection as he's desperate to find the connection he sees in the couples around him.  I adored Adrian and the sweet and sensual connection he has with Noah.  He makes Noah think, and shows him the satisfaction in accepting who you are, but never pushes too hard. He worries about Noah as Noah's never been cared for before and their cuddly moments put a smile on my face.  Adrian's an admirable character who knows what he wants, and though uncertain for awhile in how to get what he wanted, once he knew he didn't hesitate in grasping for it with both hands.

On a whole this was a charming story with likable characters that went on just a bit too long.  The connection between Noah and Adrian was combustible with fun and flirtiness the first stage of their burgeoning relationship.  Their friends to lovers connection moved quickly but for me it worked as the foundation for being friends was established through deep emotional talks and an opening up of their fears.  Their romance remained sweet yet sensual and I enjoyed Adrian's protectiveness of Noah when it came to the sexual side of their romance.  This story focused mainly on them with only brief scenes with other characters which kept me fully immersed in their journey to HEA and made for a richly rewarding tale.  This was an entertaining start to a series set in the gaming world and I look forward to future installments digging a bit deeper into this theme as it was just touched on here but readers will be charmed by Noah and Adrian and their equally charming dogs!

My rating for this is an B+/A-

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


Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.
Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. Great review! Thank you for hosting!

    Crystal, Tasty Book Tours