The last thing Morgan Lawson is looking for when attending Comic Con is love. But even prior to exchanging first words, Morgan is drawn to Dex, a drop-dead sexy gamer boy who lives and breathes video games. Before she realizes it, Morgan finds herself caught up in all things Dex.
Dex Roberts knows from the moment he first sees Morgan, he wants more. He falls hard and fast but isn’t surprised when his job as a professional video gamer takes a toll on their relationship. Once Morgan decides what truly makes her happy, there’s no time to waste. But without warning, life threatens to destroy what both Morgan and Dex want most...each other.
Rating: 3.5 stars
I have found my niche: gamer romances. I'm a gamer myself (though not of FPS... first person shooters), and the Boyf loves his DOTA2. I'm only just discovering that there's a whole subgenre of geeky new adult and adult contemporary romance. And this even fits the sports romance theme this month, as esports is a legit thing! (It brought in $1.5b in revenue in 2017, and The International 2017 winners won $10,862,683. That's the biggest DOTA2 major, and yes, I watched some of the games with the Boyf.)
Everything started out really great. I started listening on my way to a convention – RARE18 London, a huge romance event in fact. I thought it was fitting when the book starts at ComicCon (and I am actually going to the London Film & Comic Con with my boyfriend in July). Bookish Morgan tags along with her friend to SDCC, where she meets Dex, a professional gamer. They cross paths a few times, an adorable connection clear from the start. It made me all giddy, as gamers and readers are good matches (and I would know).
They learn they both live in Chicago, so everything keeps going well. But Morgan is really insecure, and the regular travelling that Dex has to do for his job puts a strain on the relationship. Yes, ok, Morgan did take it quite hard, and some might find it annoying. I, however, found it relatable. I don't care what age someone is; if you've never been in a long-term relationship before, or if you've had previous experiences that affect your ability to trust people...well, you're going to have some teething problems. Plus, at the start of a relationship, when you're still developing a bond, it's normal to be working out your feelings and your dynamic together. So while I was shaking my head sometimes at Morgan, I could also empathise. She's a work-in-progress, as are all of us.
And you know what? Dex was a sweetheart about it all. He really cared about Morgan, and while other men might have found some of her behaviours a bit intense, he understood where she was coming from. Different people have different needs, and that's ok; it's all about meeting your match, and that's what Morgan and Dex found.
This was more of a sweet romance, a lot more innocent than new adult romances typically are. While there was some sizzle, it was all fairly tame and centred around feelings of love, understanding, and belonging, as well as being brave enough to fight for love when things aren't honeymoon perfect.
The end was unexpected and dramatic, but it tied up nicely. Plus, groundwork was definitely being laid for more books in the series, and I must admit I'm curious. Bring on the gamers!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
It's been a full twenty-four hours since I listened to Level Me Up because I wanted to take some time to gather my thoughts before writing this review. Let me say that it's never easy to type out on my keyboard how a book, regardless of its format, failed to click with me. Unfortunately, that's where I find myself with this first in Lauren Helms's Gamer Boy series. I've read and listened to quite a few romances wherein one or both of the main characters happen to be involved in the gaming world. Now, one doesn't have to be a gamer to have an appreciation for gaming as a whole or the individuals who immerse themselves in it. I'm not a gamer, but I get the fascination people have for it and why there are so many who get so into it. I even know a few of them personally.
Helms's story had potential. If it didn't, I wouldn't have bothered to spend almost six hours listening to it. But this was a case of potential not being full met. Main characters Morgan Lawson and Dex Roberts were okay, although the latter had far more charm to him than the former, but I didn't feel as much chemistry as I would have wanted between these two. And goodness, there's only so much insecurity I can take from a female main character, especially since the guy who loved her wasn't giving her any reason to doubt him. I honestly didn't even get why they clicked as much as they were supposed to have clicked. I also felt as if I was waiting for something to happen story-wise, but it was like a weighted pause that led to not much after all. As far as the narration is concerned, I Lacey Gilleran, who is a new-to-me narrator, was good enough. All things considered, Level Me Up gets three stars. ♥
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
3.5 STARS REVIEW
New Adult, Contemporary Romance, with dual-POV.
First book in the Gamer Boy series.
Performance : I have mixed feelings about this. Mostly because I prefer when we have dual-narrator. I always find a lack of emotions when I got a woman narrating as a man. One thing, are quotations in between speeches, other is a whole chapter of this.
ability of changing voices: 4/5
WHAT HAS REALLY WORKED FOR ME
Addictiveness: This books begins really strong and hooked me in from almost the first chapter. I usually listen to audiobooks when working out or working around my house. This one, I felt a need to finish soon.
Character: hero 4.5/5, heroine 2.5/5, secondary characters 4/5, growth 3.5/5, real 4/5 I’m a bit on the fence here. I really adored Dex, the boy was so patient, cute and sweet. I'm interested to knowing more from several secondary characters. Most of them were easy to like, connect and understand.
Cover: art 3/5, title 5/5, color-font 4/5, buy 4/5 Yes, I’m a cover slut. I buy books because of the cover without reading the blurb. I would buy this one because of the catchy title. I don't love the art, but is not bad. I can see Morgan being happier looking at Dex in this art. The colors and font are ok.
Freshness: I like the idea of exploring the gaming world. I have three teen, one who loves video games and it was very interesting to learn more about this world.
Plot: believable 4/5, conflict 2/5, dialogue 3.5/5, ending 2.5/5, enjoyment 4/5, opening 5/5, pace 4/5, setting 4/5, subplots 3/5, twists 4/5 Amazing opening and not so good ending. It felt rushed and not very satisfying. I felt like Dex deserved an explanation. Morgan needed to grovel a bit . Not so good conflict and good dialogue. Great pace and good setting. Great foundation for a series. Good subplots with an amazing twist closer to the end. I've enjoyed the story and was invested in the group . The book kept me guessing and I've ended wanting more.
Romance: believable 4/5, chemistry 4/5, description 4/5, development 3/5, steam 1.5/5 This is a cute romance. The couple's meeting was sweet and the story portrays them as being very young. If feels almost young adult. Their chemistry was good and their romance believable.
Writing Style: Good writing! Good foundation for a series, with an interesting group of friends and a not very explored theme. The writing feels between young adult and new adult. The author gave a killer beginning to the story that hooks the reader into the gaming world. Looking forward to read more.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
Character: I didn't like the heroine much. She started well, but suddenly become someone who I was like: WHAT? She was so immature that I felt like I was reading a young adult novel instead of people out of college. Yes, her problems with her father were real, but didn't justify all that. Her problems didn't feel possible for real life. It really felt like her hung-ups were of a 15 or 16-year-old girl. Yes, she was not all bad, in fact I liked her sometimes, but she whined too much and I felt like throwing my phone on the floor a few times.
Plot: The ending felt rushed and missing something. An apologetic speech should have made it into the book. If felt unresolved.
My first book from the author that has me looking forward to read more. I can't wait for Gia/Simon; Bernie/Wade's books.
26.5/35 STARS = 3.5 STARS (between 24.5 stars and 27.5 stars)
Addictiveness: 4 Character: 3.5 Cover: 3.5 Freshness: 4 Plot: 3.5 Romance: 4 Writing Style: 4
Would I recommend? I would recommend this book for everyone that enjoys a sweet romance.
Would I re-read this book? Yes.
Would I re-read this series? Sure.
Would I read more from the author? Yes, I'm looking forward to it.
You MAY read this because you enjoy new adult reads; you SHOULD read this because you like sweet romances; you MUST read this for a promising new series with a great group of friends.
Where does Level Me Up rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
I'm not going to compare the books but it was an ok listen. I'm on the fence whether I would listen to it again. I think it would depend on how the series develops. Will other books in the series come out in audio?
Who was your favorite character and why?
I can't say that I had a favorite character. Without having all the characters the whole story would have changed. But none really stood out above the other.
What does Lacey Gilleran bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Ms. Gilleran gives the reader the experience of knowing how young these characters are. If you're thinking of people just graduating college, you don't want to have an "older" narrator reading to you because then you have a hard time imagining what the life these characters may have had. I think she was a great choice.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I wouldn't say that I had an extreme reaction to any parts of the book. It does bring back memories of what I went through after I graduated college and the relationship I had with my parents and brothers during that time. Not really into "gaming" so I can't really understand the fascination. Especially since my experience was pinballs.
Any additional comments?
This may be one of those stories that the "older" generation may not find the story interesting. It did have a feeling of being generation specific. In this case when you see the tag "new adult" I would take that seriously. It's not a teen read though. You get the experiences of young love and of young adults just beginning their lives. Experiences are new, mistakes will be made, and emotional and life experiences will be up and down. With the characters being young, I can't say that the ending is happy because we don't know what happens as they age but at least they're happy for now.
Just because this one book was not my cup of tea doesn't mean that I'm going to give up on this author. It's hard to connect with characters when we haven't experienced the same thing. Each generation experiences something different - gaming being one of them. The author does write believable situations and characters. I just can't see this as a book for everyone.
I voluntarily reviewed an Audiobook copy of this book.
The blurb of the story caught my eye and I was curious to read about a gamer romance as I have never read one before in all my years of reading. The story started off strong but I had a hard time feeling the connection between Morgan and Dex. At times I felt like the author was telling us about their relationship and I wanted to feel it and fall in love right along with the characters. At times I felt Morgan to be a little wishy washy and slightly immature for my liking. She was very hot and cold and Dex had the patience of a Saint! I liked Dex’s character and he was a sweetheart and I enjoyed getting his point of view as well during this story. As the story progresses Morgan matures and I ended up really liking her character by the time I was done with the audio book. WE had a good introduction to the secondary characters and I am looking forward to reading about them as well. This was my first time “reading” this author and I did enjoy the story. I loved the narrator Lacey Gilleran and the way she was able to capture the various emotions throughout this story. I can’t wait to read and listen to more of these ladies in the future.
"I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review."
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of the book.
Level Me Up is angsty and sweet - with a really likable cast of characters. It's the perfect setup for a series since we get to know quite a few characters well enough to want to know what happens with them next. Dex and Morgan are such a cute couple and the way they meet and get together is super cute. That being said, the issues in their relationship sort of drove me crazy. Morgan has some unresolved issues from her past that rear their ugly head and threaten their HEA. I found myself frustrated with both Dex and Morgan and just wished they would communicate with each other instead of internalizing so much and to listen and follow their friends good and sound advice. There were moments when the pacing of the story dragged a little bit, but I was invested in Dex and Morgan and I knew that there would be drama between them eventually so I held on. I also felt that in terms of sexy times, this read as more of a Young Adult Contemporary than New Adult - in fact, in general, other than the fact that the characters are in their 20's, the whole book feels more Young Adult than New Adult. Lacey Gilleran did a decent job handling the first person POV narration of both characters (sometimes it's awkward hearing a female voice a male character's POV), but at times there was a lack of emotion in the narration that caused the story to come out flat and one dimensional. Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I may even continue with the series now that I have a better idea as to what to expect. I'm truly interested in what happens with the rest of Dex and Morgan's friends. 3 out of 5 wine glasses.
Uf, this book gave me some mixed feelings. On one side, I did enjoy the audiobook, I liked the narration very much, but I wanted a bigger explosion, and that explosion was left much towards the end.
We have here a team of Call of Battle (hope I got the name right) players who earn their monthly income by doing exactly what they love: playing games. All the books in the series will follow the team members but book one brings us Dex and Morgan – Dex being the player, game player. He is the perfect guy: good looking, friendly, respectful and sexy as sin! She is a nerd. She knows nothing about games, knows nothing about what being a gamer means and on top of that, has her own family issues.
Let’s start with the writing. It was clean, sweet and gentle. We have a dual perspective story that is very useful in many situations towards the book. There are moments in which one character acts in a way that apparently makes no sense, but once we have his or her POV, all clears up. We have family and friendship as main themes. So I can say it’s all ok on this area. The end brings a solution to all problems. It was unexpected, but a bit rushed to my taste.
The characters are not exceptional. They would seem boring, but even boring people have some interesting story. Yes, they are not exceptional (well, Dex kind of is), they are not explosive, but sweet and genuine. I disliked Morgan completely. I tried to find excuses for her behavior in her family issues but her jealousy and refusal to understand or accept Dex’s lifestyle really bothered me. The guy really was sweet!
The narration was great and as I would have imagined. The narrator managed to capture Morgan’s episodes and her frustration and as well as Dex’s inner struggle to understand her and save his relationship, if possible.
So without too much wine and dine, I will go with 3.5 stars for this book, but I can tell you that the series is very promising. The other couples are much more interesting and intriguing. Book two “One More Round” is published already as far as Goodreads shows and I cannot wait to give it a try. I loved Dax, did not like that much Morgan but the book is worth your while big time Happy Reading/Listening!
Is there anything you would change about this book?
I would have like to read/hear more about Morgan's relationship with her father and how they both dealt with the loss of her mother.
What did you like best about this story?
The thing I liked best about this story is the pop culture references. I felt like this story was written for my generation.
Would you listen to another book narrated by Lacey Gilleran?
Did Level Me Up inspire you to do anything?
Level Me Up inspired me to read more novels centered around fandom and video games.
Morgan is going to San Diego Comic Con for the first time ever with her friend as a last minute fill-in, and she is so over her head. She doesn’t really know anything about comic con and had never been on a plane before, but she is excited to have the opportunity to be with her friend. While on an errand for her friend’s brother, she meets Dex, a professional Gamer. Morgan and Dex hit it off instantly, and discover that they are actually both from the same city. But can a fun vacation attraction lead to more?
So to be perfectly honest, I wanted to read this book predominantly because I saw that it was about Comic Con and as a true fan-girl, I will take anything I can get that pertains to comic cons or geek culture- I just eat that all up. So, that being sad, I will admit that I was a little disappointed when only like a chapter or two even dealt with comic con, it was more a gimmick for the main characters to meet than an actual part of the story.
Morgan started off the book being a fairly normal, shy, sheltered woman, but then throughout the course of the story she morphed into a very odd hermit creature. Morgan had some serious daddy-issues that kept her from being able to have normal romantic relationships, instead making her turn into a crazy irrational person who lashed out for no real reason and then shut off all human interaction. She was pretty intense and very unreasonable but was able to grow as a person towards the end of the book. To be honest, I was not sold on her as a character. Dex, on the other hand was pretty much the ideal guy- handsome, well-off, adventurous, kind, caring- basically perfect. When he did something wrong, he attempted to fix it to the best of his potential- seriously, his biggest "flaw" was that he cared too much, too fast (um, almost every woman's dream situation). Even after Morgan turned into a little bit crazy, he still cared about her well-being 100%
Both main characters had really the best kind of friends and I liked the support that came immediately from both groups. The interaction between the main characters and their friends were my favorite parts of the book. Be it supportive and helpful or the hard honest truth, the friends gave what was needed to bolster the other. I think this book is the perfect example of making your own family, that who you pick to give you love does not need to be related to you. I have so many questions about a certain roommates past that I am very curious to read the next book in the series.
I found this to be a very fast audiobook, with the narrator able to seamlessly switch between the male and female narration very nicely. I love when there are multiple narrators for different characters, but I think this narrator was skilled enough to make 2 very distinct people. The pacing and enunciation was clear and I would gladly listen to more audiobooks narrated by her in the future.
Lauren Helms hit on the perfect metaphor for Morgan's life. Level Me Up is one woman's struggle to navigate life, love, loss and insecurities. There is always an awkward stage before a person comes into their own. The fact that she stumbles into a relationship with a sexy gamer helps her let go of the past and start rebuilding her future. Lacey Gilleran brings an old school angst to a modern tale with her brand of girl power that borders on clueless, but ends up being adorable. Whether ebook or audio book the humor and heart shine through.
Morgan’s life was never the same after her mom was diagnosed and passed away from cancer. After high school she left home and now lives in Chicago with her two best friends. When she and her best friend Ruby attend Comic Con in San Diego she meets one of the gamers and from the moment they met they were drawn to each other.
Dex is a successful gamer and he knew from the beginning that she was it for him. He was patient and understanding about her insecurities and was the boyfriend that any girl would want.
I was impressed with this debut novel from this author as this story has it all a little angst, some drama, plenty of laughs and romance. The circle of friends they both had complete the story and I would love their stories as well.
I enjoyed the narration as the emotion she conveyed made you feel like you were part of the story. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of the audio book from the author.