by Annabeth Albert
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Book #1 in the True Colors series
Number of pages: 384
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Contemporary Romance/New Adult M/M
Read 5/17/20 to 5/18/20
Charming, charismatic, and effortlessly popular, Conrad Stewart seems to have it all…but in reality, he’s scrambling to keep his life from tumbling out of control.
Brilliant, guarded, and endlessly driven, Alden Roth may as well be the poster boy for perfection…but even he can’t help but feel a little broken inside.
When these mortal enemies are stuck together on a cross-country road trip to the biggest fan convention of their lives, their infamous rivalry takes a backseat as an unexpected connection is forged. Yet each has a reason why they have to win the upcoming Odyssey gaming tournament and neither is willing to let emotion get in the way—even if it means giving up their one chance at something truly magical.
Wow! This author has range. This is only the second book I’ve read by her and it’s totally different than the first one I read. Both are LGBTQ romance, but the tone is completely different in this one than in Burn Zone. That’s not a bad thing. Both are wonderful stories. I’m just amazed that she can write both types of stories so well.
The vibe in this story has a bit of a YA feel. I’m not quite sure how else to explain it, but that’s how I felt. And not in a bad way at all. Yet, even once the story earned that NC-17 rating from me there was still just a YA feel to it all. I guess because it also felt like a coming of age type of tale to me. Both Conrad and Alden are in their 20’s, but they are still learning a lot of life lessons and finding out who they are. They haven’t quite made it out of the boxes their parents, hometown peers, and society has put them in. It’s an inspiring thing to watch them both come into their own.
Just when I was thinking I couldn’t handle the bickering between Alden and Conrad any longer, the story settled into itself and I was able to start to appreciate the journey they were taking me on. While I understood Alden’s prickly outer shell and Conrad’s devil-may-care attitude, they weren’t privy to one another’s motivations. Once they started letting down their walls a bit and actually talking, the most stunning relationship started taking root. Like the pair of them, I didn’t want their road trip to end.
This couple is insanely sweet together, even once things start heating up. There’s still somehow an innocence to their interactions. I couldn’t get enough of the two of them together, talking things out. It’s when they withdrew back into their own heads that problems would pop up. Together…they were unstoppable.
Beside the story of Alden and Conrad, there were many other things I enjoyed in this book. The game play was interesting without bogging the story down. It was written in such a way that you don’t need to be any sort of gamer to understand what they’re talking about in those scenes. We, as the audience, have no idea the rules of the game. Yet I never felt lost or confused. The gaming scenes are actually used to move the story forward instead of thrown in for show.
While I read a wide variety of romance and have read plenty with non-traditional couplings, I believe this is the first story I’ve read where a prominent character has the they/their/them pronouns. Not only did I appreciate this, I hope to see more of this in the future. I will be truthful and say it sometimes took me a second look to realize who was being talked about. But the more we have it in our books, the more people will get used to using these pronouns and (hopefully) they will become more familiar the masses. The author definitely didn’t gloss over the problems and prejudices the LGBTQ community faces, but she gave her characters a safe space on the page where they could be themselves, as it should be everywhere.
So far, with the little bit I’ve read from this author, I’m sold. I cannot wait to read more.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**