Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Adrian Gottlieb is winning at life. He’s a successful video game designer with everything a man could ask for, including a warm comfy ride to Denver and a date for his sister’s wedding. But he finds himself in need of a total reboot when he’s left stranded at a snowy campground in Utah. Holiday plans? Epic fail.
That is until Noah Walters offers him shelter for the night and a reluctant cross-country ride. Nothing about the ultraconservative geoarchaeologist should attract Adrian, but once he discovers Noah’s hidden love for video games, the two connect on a new level. Soon, a quiet but undeniable chemistry sparks.
Something doesn’t add up, though. As the miles accumulate and time runs out, Noah must face the most difficult choice of his life. Meanwhile, Adrian must decide whether he’s ready to level up. Is their relationship status worth fighting for, or has this game ended before it’s even begun?
If Annabeth Albert hadn’t already made me a fan with her previous stories, this is the one that would have sealed the deal. Status Update, the first in a new #gaymer series, proves to be a sweet, sparkling romance, with filled with endearing characters that grab at your heart. That holds especially true of the main couple, both men are unusual, layered, and real. Throw in two irrepressible dog characters like Pixel and Ulysses that are a perfect match for their owners and I was in love from the moment the story rolled out in that campground’s off leash dog area in Utah.
The Capitol Reef National Park campground in Southern Utah is a strange meeting place for these two men to collide. Adrian Gottlieb, successful video game designer is on his way to his sister’s wedding in a rented RV with a man he barely knows. Noah Walters, a geoarcheologist, is holed up in his camper, his home away from home, trying to finish his book that will get him tenure at his conservative bible college in Texas. But in a wildly painful yet could be expected turn of events, Adrian, 25, and Pixel are left stranded in the campground until Noah offers not only refuge but an passage to Denver and Adrian’s sister’s wedding.
Sounds so simple, but the men and story are so complex. Noah’s upbringing has left him firmly in the closet, His choice of profession and job has kept him there. Noah realizes that to come out would be losing his teaching job, which he loves and any chance at tenure in a profession where jobs are scare. That choice has also left him a virgin and celibate at the age of 35 and up until he meets Adrian, Noah has accepted the limitations of his life and its loneliness.
If for no other reason that the character of Noah Walters, this book would garner high praise for its author. He’s an adult, with a mature outlook on his life, taking responsibility for the choices he has made. He’s rueful, awkward, gruff, and intelligent. I found him to be so remarkable and wonderful. Add to that he put away his sexuality and committed to a path of celibacy for the sake of his profession, that extra bit of unexpected vulnerability just makes you ache for him and gives Noah that one more twist to his already different persona.
But then comes Adrian Gottlieb, a character who is on par with Noah in every respect. He too is complex, full of his own layers and unexpected depth. His success and commitment to the popular videogame, Space Villager, has left him little time for a social life, which also helps to explain the disaster that led their meeting. That adage that ‘appearances can be deceiving’ certainly applies to Adrian as Noah finds out almost immediately. Both men, highly intelligent, find themselves oddly compatible, as are their dog companions. Their relationship within Noah’s small RV, their time on the road as their explore each other boundaries…sexual, personal, emotional, takes the reader on such an a rewarding journey along with these men to Denver and the wedding that you hope it will never stop.
Then it does.
And the story gets better. Because when their trip stops, decisions have to be made. Its reality time. And Annabeth Albert takes these two serious men, the slow, sometimes painful journey they have been on and completes it in the most wondrous, satisfactory way. It makes sense, its real, and not without a prick or two of regret. So yes, its perfect. Except for one little detail.
Space Villager does not exist. How I wish it did. There was this teaser as the end…just no… it does not exist. But I won’t take away any stars for that disappointment.
Book Cover was a delight. I loved that the dogs were included. Great job.