Friday, June 5, 2020

Book Review: Against the Rules

By Sara Steven

Holly has taken herself out of the dating game since breaking up with her cheating, thieving ex. She barely notices Marc, who comes into the game store every week, hoping to get her attention. Her friends insist it’s time to take on a new role, to leave Quiet Holly behind and embrace her inner flirt. And on paper, Marc’s great: cute, funny, and a hardcore gamer just like Holly is.

Then there’s Nathan. He’s everything twenty-eight-year-old Holly wants…except he’s also her friend’s father. Absolutely off-limits. But as she and Nathan playtest a new legacy game together, they’re growing closer. The game is complex and intriguing, and there’s no way to know how choices will pan out. What seems like a good idea could lead to disaster...or sweet victory. But in gaming, as in love, sometimes you have to roll the dice and take your chance... (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Having read the first book in the Gamer Girls series (reviewed here; currently available for 99 cents on Kindle), I looked forward to learning more about Holly, particularly after getting some sense of the chaos she endures through the eyes of her best friend Gwen, the protagonist in She’s Got Game. I knew there had to be more to the story, and readers won’t be disappointed!

The attraction between Holly and Nathan is palpable. The fact that there is the “off-limits” mentality for both characters only adds to the tension. Playing into all of it is Gwen, Nathan’s daughter. Holly isn’t sure on what the right course of action is where her friend’s feelings are concerned. If she follows through on how she feels about Nathan, there is the possibility of losing someone important to her. Yet it’s obvious that Holly has often put herself last in many situations, often worrying more about everyone else vs. her own needs. This only adds to her confusion. What should she do?

Holly is also preparing for a fight with her ex, a situation that has ultimately rendered her useless in her own eyes. She can’t fulfill a lot of her own dreams and expectations in life, given the circumstances, only lending into the stress. There really is a lot that goes on for this protagonist, yet there is a welcome reprieve in Nathan, and all he represents to her. Yet at the same time, she doesn’t want to be saved and needs to stand on her own feet. The constant push and pull between them made me want for this relationship to come to fruition all the more!

The glue that holds all of the characters together within Against the Rules is the game they play at the gaming store where Holly works, an environment that takes me back to my own game nights with my husband and some of his coworker buddies- a ritual we carried on with until we moved out of state. There’s camaraderie within the rules and guidelines, a backdrop we all hope carries through into Holly’s situation and her love life. That maybe she can hold onto the camaraderie, while working within the rules and guidelines that might be required in order to find her own happiness. Another great addition to the Gamer Girls series!

Thanks to Laura Heffernan for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Laura Heffernan:

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