Review: Gaming for Keeps by Seleste deLaney

Gaming for Keeps by Seleste deLaneyFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Romantic suspense
Length: 112 pages
Publisher: Entangled: Ever After
Date Released: June 10, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Pen Holloway’s done with men—in real life. Guys in game are so much less drama. But when her partner from Heroes of Fallen Gods invites her to the convention of the year, she panics. What if he’s another jerk? What if he’s not?

Cal Burrows is living his dream of being a spy. One of TRAIT’s misfit spies, but still a spy. It’s the perfect job… until an arms dealer with a taste for blood invades his not-so-secret geek haven. All Cal wanted from ConDamned was to meet his on-line girl. Now, with the threat of mass murder looming, he’s forced to choose between keeping his mission a secret and protecting the girl of his dreams.

Despite their attraction, Pen can’t help but suspect Cal’s hiding something. She also can’t shake the feeling he’s not as much of a stranger as he seems.

My Review:

For a gamer and sci-fi geek, reading Gaming for Keeps was sort of like reading crack. I loved the in-jokes and con jokes. The whole idea of a science fiction convention romance was a trip down memory lane, and then to add on the whole spy game gone bad on top of the romance was just sheer bliss.

Games are the black holes into which weekends fall. It’s true for a lot of real-life gamers, and it’s also true for Pen (short for Penelope) Holloway. She’s been spending too much of her non-work life playing the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) Heroes of Fallen Gods. It used to be fun, but since she broke up with her ex-boyfriend–but still fellow guild-player–Aaron, gaming isn’t what is used to be.

Enter Lohonas, well, sort of. They’ve never met in real-life, only in-game. In-game he’s a sweetheart, always saving her when Aaron (nearly) lets her die. Pen (known in-game as Megara, from, you guessed it, Disney’s Hercules) has spent hours online talking with Lohonas, but has no idea who he might be in real-space.

He might be ugly. He might still live at home with his mother. He might be another girl, although that wouldn’t be so bad, at least she’d have made a friend.

Then he invites her to meet up with him at ConDamned, the con of the year. They could become more than friends. Or it could be a complete disappointment, and she’d lose her gamer-buddy.

It’s just too bad that Cal Burrowes, AKA Lohonas, can’t tell Megara, the girl of his dreams, that he suddenly has to work that weekend, and get her to stay away from the con. Because Cal is a real-life, not in-game, spy. And the forces of evil are planning to commit mass mayhem and murder in the middle of thousands of unsuspecting (and unarmed) science fiction fans.

And he’s just lured the woman he wants to fall in love with into the middle of the destruction.

Escape Rating B: I’m not sure how much of this story would work if you didn’t understand either the in-jokes or anything about either gaming or cons. And it’s too short to get the backstory on Cal’s (Lohonas’) government agency or why he’s got problems working in the field. There’s obviously something not quite right on both those fronts, but I didn’t get enough to figure it all out.

That being said, for someone who is into everything, the story is a blast! It read a lot like a superhero story, with Lohonas being Cal’s alterego or secret identity. And I wouldn’t mind finding out more about TRAIT, his agency, or seeing more stories about the other agents. Gaming for Keeps ended up being super geek fun!

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