Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genres: contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Series: Fandom Hearts #3
Published by Cathy Yardley on January 30, 2018
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
Kyla Summers has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime to get her cosplay business off the ground, and only one thing stands in her way. She needs someone to take over the auto shop, and there’s only one person she can think of to call…
Jericho Salomon hasn’t been back in his home town since he joined a biker gang and rode off nine years ago. When his best friend’s kid sister calls begging for help, he knows that he owes the family a debt and he intends to pay. This is easier said than done once he finds that the kid is all grown up…
She needs a pair of skillful hands. He needs to keep his hands off. When sparks begin to fly, can they keep things strictly business, or will their hearts get hopelessly tangled? No more games, it’s time to play for keeps.
In the first two books in this series, Level Up and One True Pairing, the fandom in the heroine’s heart was pretty much front and center in their lives. But Kyla Summers’ love of cosplay reads as more like an afterthought in hers – because that’s the way that Kyla treats it.
Or rather, that’s how she lets other people, particularly her brother, guilt her into treating it.
Then again, Kyla lets her selfish and self-centered brother Billy guilt her into pulling all of her weight and most of his in the operation of the family auto repair business that they inherited from their parents.
Not that their parents are dead – it’s not that kind of inheritance. But their parents are off RV’ing on their earned and deserved retirement, leaving both the business and the operation of it to Kyla and Billy.
The problem is that Kyla is the one doing the lion’s share of the work. Not that Billy and Kyla aren’t both excellent mechanics. But Kyla has to be both mechanic and business manager, while Billy is the one who takes vacations while telling Kyla that whenever she wants to take a couple of days its never a good time.
And yes, there’s a problem there in that Billy TAKES vacation while Kyla ASKS for vacation – and gets shot down every single damn time.
Obviously, I don’t like Billy much and nothing that happens in the story makes me warm up to him at all. He’s not evil, but he’s self-absorbed and self-centered and it takes a mammoth amount of swallowing her justified and utterly righteous indignation for Kyla to finally call him on all his shit – of which there is a metric buttload.
When Billy comes back to town a day late after yet another vacation and with a broken arm, no less, Kyla is pretty much at her wit’s end. He can’t work on cars one handed, and the place needs two mechanics to keep up with the business they have and honestly need.
But Kyla was planning on taking every spare minute she could to work on costumes ahead of a Con that’s only a month away. There’s a costume contest, and if she wins it’s $10,000 and publicity for her dream costuming business AND an in with a big costume and geekwear company like Her Universe, but not actually them, of course.
With Billy’s broken arm, along with his unwillingness to learn any of the business side of the garage, Kyla knows it will take her every waking minute – along with any minute she might collapse from exhaustion – to keep the business afloat.
Like always, Billy minimizes and dismisses her cosplay. And pretty much everything else that Kyla wants, needs, or says. So, after a night of drinking and crying on the shoulders of her besties, the sisters who run the bookstore and collectibles shop that serves as an anchor for this entire series, Kyla drunk calls her teenage crush, Jericho Salomon.
Not because it’s a drunk booty call or even just a maudlin, drunk call to an ex-lover, because they never were that, but because Jericho spent his growing up years right beside Kyla and Billy in the Summers’ auto repair shop, and learned how to fix engines right beside them.
With Billy out of commission, Kyla needs another ace mechanic to keep up with the garage and maybe let her carve out enough time to finish the costumes she needs for the contest.
When Jericho comes back to Snoqualmie to help her out, she gets a whole lot more than just a great mechanic, and even more than a man who is willing to work on Kyla’s personal engine until it’s humming a very happy tune indeed.
As much as Jericho and Kyla enjoy each other’s company, both in bed and out, and as much as he wants to support her, not just with the repair shop but with everything in her life, he has too many bad memories in Snoqualmie and too many commitments outside it to ever plan on staying.
And Kyla is much too used to having no one to rely on to trust that he’ll ever come back once he’s gone.
Escape Rating B: I read the second book in this series, One True Pairing, a few years back and absolutely adored it, so I was all in to go back and read Level Up a few weeks ago when it popped up for a tour, and I’m back in Snoqualmie for Game of Hearts.
The title of which, I just realized this minute, is a play on Game of Thrones. Not that there is a Red Wedding or anything remotely like one, but rather that the signature costumes that Kyla works on for that contest are based on GoT.
As I said, I loved One True Pairing, and really liked Level Up. But I had some seriously mixed feelings about Game of Hearts for at least half of the book. Because I wanted to rant and rave about the patriarchy that had conditioned Kyla to believe that her wants and needs always had to take second place to Billy’s.
Not that Kyla isn’t a grown-ass woman who needs to take control of her own life and put herself first because no one else is going to, but I was watching her internal dialog and desperation and wanted to shake her until some backbone filtered in – which it finally did and hallelujah for that.
Let’s just say I REALLY didn’t like Billy because he just never gets hit by a big enough clue-by-four – and not that both Kyla and Jericho didn’t try. Billy’s sense of entitlement was pretty epic.
So this was a really hard read for me until Kyla started to use her own voice and take charge of her own life and stand up for her own self when it came to her brother.
Once Jericho enters the picture the story changed for me, a whole lot and very much for the better. Because Jericho believes in Kyla and does his level best to enable her to fulfill her dreams. That he also falls in love with her and vice versa was just delicious icing on what suddenly became a rather tasty cake, because his belief and real support was the most important thing.
When he does fall down and does disappoint her and doesn’t fulfill all of his promises – which becomes the central dramatic tension in the story, he still never minimizes her dreams or her desires. Which doesn’t mean he doesn’t screw up and screw things up, but it happens because he has a lot of his own crap to deal with and doesn’t handle it well at times because he’s human like the rest of us and not ever because he thinks she’s less than.
So, as much as my teeth ground on this one in the beginning, I was definitely cheering for Kyla and Jericho by the end. So now that I’m three books in, I’m hoping that the rest of this series is going to turn up on tour in the months ahead. It feels a bit like someone is capitalizing on the overwhelming success and utter wonderfulness of Olivia Dade’s Spoiler Alert, and I’m just fine with that if it means more books like the Fandom Hearts series get more attention.
Meanwhile, I’ll be looking forward to the next book in THIS series, What Happens at Con the next time my own fannish heart needs a bit of a tune-up.