Title: Crushing It by Lorelei Parker
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
In life, as in gaming, there’s a way around every obstacle . . .
To pitch her new role-playing game at a European conference, developer Sierra Reid needs to overcome her terror of public speaking. What better practice than competing in a local bar’s diary slam, regaling an audience with old journal entries about her completely humiliating college crush on gorgeous Tristan Spencer?
Until the moderator says, “Next up, Tristan Spencer . . .”
Sierra is mortified, but Tristan is flattered. Caught up in memories of her decade-old obsession as they reconnect, Sierra tries to dismiss her growing qualms about him. But it’s not so easy to ignore her deepening friendship with Alfie, the cute, supportive bar owner. She and Alfie were college classmates too, and little by little, Sierra is starting to wonder if she’s been focusing her moves on the wrong target all along, misreading every player’s motivations.
Maybe the only winning strategy is to start playing by her heart . . .
I requested this book on Netgalley because lately I’ve been in the mood for some romances and this book seemed like a hit. Video games? Cute bartender? The book was just calling my name.
Sadly, it fell short for me.
I considered DNFing this book multiple times before I finally finished. I really enjoyed the first 25% of the book, but then it went a little downhill. It started getting really boring and repetitive.
Let’s get into the story.
Sierra is a video game developer who has a massive fear of public speaking after a particularly bad presentation in college caused by Tristan, her old college crush. Sierra wants to go to GamesCon to promote a new video game she has produced, but her boss doesn’t feel like she has the confidence or speaking skills to make it happen.
To try and overcome her fear, her best friend Aida convinces her to participate in the Chagrin Challenge a local bar is holding. She would just have to read an embarrassing piece of writing from her past.
To start off, there was an abundance of video game references that just felt a little too forced. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a crazy nerd when it comes to those sorts of things, but even for a mega-nerd like me, it was too much.
The main character Sierra was probably my biggest complaint about the book. She was just too flat of a character for me. I never really felt invested in her journey, because she kept doing the same things over again. While she did have a decent amount of character development by the end, it just didn’t feel like enough.
Don’t even get me started on Tristan, the supposed supermodel of everyone’s dreams. He was the worst character and had zero redeeming qualities, so by 50% of the book, I kept wondering “Why?”. The fact that Sierra kept making excuses for him drove me crazy and it just didn’t make any sense.
The thing that kept me interested the most in the book was Alfie, the sexy bartender and love interest. I honestly would’ve loved way more about Alfie and his past. Alfie also had his problems, but he came off as more real. But sadly, because his character wasn’t fleshed out, he also felt a little flat.
The relationship with Alfie and Sierra had a dash of insta-love to it. While they did know each other in college, Sierra never gave him a second glance. But after remeeting him at his bar, she definitely fell for him very fast.
Sierra’s best friend Aida could’ve been SO much more. I am always a sucker for a great best friend side plot, but it wasn’t there. The only dialogue she had was mostly criticizing Sierra and telling her to get her life together (I mean, same) and I was really missing a loving best friend moment. Whenever Sierra told Aida about the problems, it was written as “I updated her on the situation.” I feel like more dialogue between the two of them could’ve made their friendship mean more as well as made Aida a way more interesting character.
Some of the storyline just didn’t make sense to me. How did Sierra forget THAT much about college? And when she was confused about some of the events being talked about, she didn’t read through her journal until the later half of the book.
I also felt like the scenes and interactions happened so fast. There was no depth to the arguments or the problems happening between Alfie and Tristan. One of the main fights with Tristan happened over a single page and it was just too quick to make me feel anything for either character.
I ended up giving the book 2 stars.
Overall, the idea of the book is great, but the characters were too stereotypical to give the book any depth. The bar contest got a little too messy, and by the end, I didn’t really care what happened. I think if the characters were more fleshed out and the scenes had more depth to them, it could’ve been a really great book.