Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a fantastic new contemporary M/M romance from Annabeth Albert. I absolutely loved STATUS UPDATE, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on BETA TEST. Though it’s the second book in the #Gaymers series, it’s fully enjoyable on its own. I just love me some interracial romance, and this one has both heart and hearth–meaning serious amounts of family drama.
Catch a First Kiss excerpt and enter to win a $20 GC in the giveaway below!
About the book:
Player vs. Player. Fight!
Brilliant graphic designer Ravi Tandel is ahead of the game—he’s just been asked to present a top secret project at a huge conference in Seattle. All systems are go…until he learns his buttoned-up office nemesis is coming along for the ride.
Tristan Jones isn’t really the gamer type, but he knows the back end of the video game business inside out. Together, he and Ravi will give an awesome presentation. If they survive the cross-country trip first.
Tossed together in close quarters, Ravi’s shocked to see Tristan’s sexy, softer side emerge from such a conservative shell. He’s less shocked to learn his handsome colleague’s prominent family would never support an out-and-proud son. But Ravi didn’t struggle through his own coming out to hide who he is now. To be together, Tristan will have to push past his fear and ultimately decide: Does he want a future with Ravi? Or is it game over before they’ve even begun?
How about a little taste?
Knock. Knock. A knock came from the connecting door, startling Ravi into hopping off the bed.
“Tristan?” he called before unlocking the door.
“Yeah,” came the muffled reply.
“What’s up?” As he opened the door, he realized that he didn’t even have a shirt on. After his shower, he’d pulled on a pair of Star Wars lounge pants that Avani had given him on his last birthday. He wasn’t a modest guy, but this was a bit…exposed for a late-night encounter.
“Um. Not much.” Tristan stood there in ridiculous blue plaid pajamas and bare feet, hair still damp and sticking up at weird angles. The overall effect should have been one of Tristan escaping from whatever retirement compound Elmer called home, but instead Ravi found it endearing.
You’re so screwed, man.
“Not much?” Ravi raised an eyebrow. “But you knocked?”
“Um. Yeah.” Tristan scratched his neck and shuffled one foot. “My room stinks.”
“Your room stinks?” Ravi had to stop himself from laughing. As far as pretexts went, that was pretty darn lame, high-school-campout-worthy stuff.
“It really does.” Tristan gestured, and Ravi followed him in and took a deep sniff. Yeah, the room did smell pretty funky.
“O-kay.” Ravi drew the word out. “Why don’t you call the front desk? This is a pretty big place, and it’s the middle of the week. I’m sure they can find you a different room.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to bother you.” Tristan did the shuffle thing with his foot again. “Never mind.”
“Tris.” Ravi grabbed Tristan’s shoulders when he tried to turn away, forced him to look at him. “What’s really up?”
“Nothing. I was thinking we could watch a movie in your room, but you’re right, I should call for a new room.”
“That’s what you want? To hang out with me?” Ravi took a step forward, not dropping his hands from Tristan’s shoulders. He could feel his warmth even through the soft blue cotton. Their bodies were mere inches apart now. Tristan’s gaze went straight to Ravi’s mouth before he licked his own lips.
Oh fuck. Killing me, Tris, you really are.
“I’ve got a movie on,” Ravi said softly, making no move toward his room or to step away from Tristan. There were a thousand reasons why he needed to step away, get Tristan to call for a new room, and stop the energy arcing between them, yet he couldn’t seem to find the one that would get his feet to move.
“Yeah.” Tristan’s exhale ghosted across Ravi’s face. His eyes continued to look as though they had a tractor beam on Ravi’s mouth. “That’s good.”
“I’ve got no clue what the movie is.” Ravi laughed shakily.
“That’s okay.” Tristan moved, subtly leaning forward before retreating a millimeter, like he wasn’t quite sure how to close the gap between them.
Ravi knew, but there were a whole host of reasons why he should retreat and lock the door behind him, put a hotel’s worth of distance between himself and temptation. But he didn’t move back, instead doing what Tristan was shuffling toward and closed the distance between them, claiming Tristan’s mouth like he’d been obsessing about for two days now.
Okay, okay, perhaps a bit longer than that, if he were honest with himself. Tristan was fussy and prissy and so not Ravi’s type, except he was cute and endearing and eager to please and…
Oh fuck it. They were so doing this thing.
Ravi’s lips slid softly over Tristan’s, hands coming up to cup Tristan’s face. His skin was smooth and slightly slippery, as if he’d shaved earlier. Tristan gave a little sigh as their lips collided, a happy noise that went straight to Ravi’s dick. Tristan tasted like a minty memory from Ravi’s teen years, a simple, classic taste that totally fit with the rest of Tristan’s persona.
And the way they fit together felt like a different kind of memory—like they’d done this before and yet never before in the same instant. Brand-new and achingly familiar. And far, far too sweet for Ravi’s blood.
This is the second book in a series that’s fully enjoyable on its own.
Tristan is the son of a very conservative judge and lawyer, and survived the loss of his adored elder brother to a drunk driving accident nearly a decade before. He came out years ago, but his parents have asked him to keep his sexuality on the super-down-low so as not to interfere with his mother’s keen political aspirations. So, while he’s “out” he’s mostly closeted. It’s a total frustration when he’s hired at a completely gay-friendly videogaming company–because he’s super jealous of all his co-workers who live out-and-proud. Ravi, in particular, rubs Tristan all the wrong ways because he’s absolutely stunning, and far too flamboyant to be deemed acceptable partner material in his parents’ circle.
Ravi is an out-gay Indian man whose mother and grandmother have vociferously denounced his homosexuality and continually seek to link him with women. He’s been invited home for his younger sister’s wedding and has been delaying accepting the invite because he cannot bear the pressure and scrutiny. He loves his job as a graphic designer, even if he believes his task-master–Tristan–is a shrill homophobe. It’s even more frustrating that he finds Tristan attractive, as Ravi will never get into another workplace romance; not after his previous debacle…
Working on the latest top secret project for roll-out at ComicCon Seattle, Tristan is more and more aggravated by Ravi’s inability to meet deadlines. They get into a fight, in the middle of a company party, and both end up leaving the party early–so neither of them consume the tainted food that sends all the higher-ups to the hospital. And that means Ravi and Tristan are the only two people on the ComicCon project who are able to drive the display up to Seattle.
Two men in a truck. That’s the name of a local moving company here, and boy howdy do Ravi and Tristan move. They spend hours in traffic and share, and overshare, and break down (literally, regarding the truck) and come together (literally, regarding the sex). It becomes a case of: “what happens on the way to Seattle stays…” scenario, and it’s transcendent for both men. Tristan is truly out, and rather proud, not just of the experience of being with a free-spirit like Ravi, he’s also darned proud of his hard work and the accolades the company’s booth is receiving. Ravi’s aware that everything with Tristan is too much to contain within the confines of several days and nights, and they decide to go into stealth mode back in California. Oh, but it’s not easy…
I loved how these guys were so up-front about their troubles and pain, how they deal with the pressures of family. Tristan is ashamed to even mention his mother, knowing that her brand of politics will likely turn off any of the new friendships he’s building–and might cost him Ravi. And, yet, when he does confide he finds some level of security. Tristan has always carried the burden of his brother’s death, and Ravi has carried the burden of his family’s shame, but each man is able to reach beyond that, as they build a more secure relationship. Even as Ravi continues to maintain this is a FWB-situation, he’s more and more captivated by Tristan, and spends all his off times at Tristan’s house. I liked how Tristan used his new-found strength, security with both Ravi and his job, to stand up against his parents and their strong-arm tactics. And I liked how Ravi, with the love and support of Tristan, was able to push back against the issues in his own family, and build better, and stronger, relationships with his siblings. The whole book is a feels-generator, with two guys who want love finding it when they least anticipate, and growing into their adulthood in new and unexpected ways.
Be sure to check out the first book in this series, STATUS UPDATE, and I look forward to telling you all about CONNECTION ERROR due out this fall.
Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $20 gift card!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
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 children. Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.