I really like this series, centered on a group of friends who are immersed (to varying degrees) in geek/gamer/STEM culture. They’re relatively short reads; Goodreads says this one clocks in at 158 pages. But the characters don’t get short-changed and the plot flows fairly easily.
Our heroine, Ani is a immunology graduate student weeks away from presenting her dissertation proposal for approval. She’s had to switch advisors late in the game, and her new advisor is a mustache-twirling sexist who hopes to make her life miserable enough to push her out of the program. Ani is determined not to give up, even as the pressure mounts.
Speaking of mounting…
“I’d rather get it on with someone dead.”
“I can lie real still if that’s your kink,” he offered.
Abraham is Ani’s friend Tessa’s boss at a game developing company. Surrounded by happy couples, he’s feeling the itch to relieve some pressure of his own. So when he gets finds himself drawn to the hot chick in a mask at a local con, he pursues it wholeheartedly. Until the masks slip and it turns out that his partner is Ani, who dislikes him and that feeling is mutual. However, the sex is hot and they agree to make it a one-time thing.
But, in the way of a romance hero, something about their chemistry draws him in and Abraham doesn’t want to let it go.
There’s a careful balancing act that goes on in this book. Yardley tries to draw Abraham as a passively sexist misogynist. He’s steeped in toxic masculinity (Marine father, former enlisted man himself, now working at a game developer). He’s the guy who says he’s not sexist, and insists women just need a thicker skin. Ani loudly and often calls him on his nonsense. Yardley brings him out of his toxic masculinity. I think it works, but you’ll need to decide for yourself.
“You came over to see me, pal. You wanted a little something-something. Do you know how fucking tired I am, day after day? And do you know how hard it is to feel sexy when you’re wearing dirty clothes and your bedroom is a mess and all you can see around you is chaos?”
One of the things I like about the series is that it respects the world the characters are in: the gamers, the cosplayers, and the STEM heroine. It’s not quietly laughing at the culture of fandom. It might be a little heavy-handed on the SJW-ness of the message, but given that that’s my own proclivity, I don’t mind it. I can see a more conservative reader rolling his/her eyes at Abraham coming around to accept that he’s in a supporting role in his relationship with Ani.