Monday, August 29, 2016

[ARC Review]: "Connection Error"

Connection Error by Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Carina Press (September 1, 2016)
Series: #gaymers, 3
Genre: M/M Romance

It's typical of video game programmer Josiah Simmons to be the last one on the plane on the way to the biggest meeting of his career. Though he's (mostly) coping with his ADHD, he can't handle another distraction. But he also can't ignore his rugged seatmate—especially once he learns the military man's a fan of his game.

Ryan Orson refuses to let his severe injuries pause his career as a navy SEAL. He's got hours of grueling physical therapy ahead of him, and no time for anything that might get in the way of his return to active duty. But that doesn't mean he's above a little first-class flirtation with geeky-cute Josiah.

When a delay strands the pair in St. Louis, they agree to share a hotel room and a night of gaming. Neither expects their new connection to move to the next level in the light of day. Opposites may attract, but is this game over before it's even begun?

Where to Buy*:
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Reviews of Albert's Previous Novels:

Status Update (#1) -- TBQ
Beta Test (#2) -- TBQ

Treble Maker (#1) -- TBQ

My Review:

Wide, mischievous smile. Sparkling hazel eyes. Unshaven jaw. Short dark brown hair. And holy hell, arm muscles for days. Bulging biceps with tats poking out of his T-shirt sleeves.

All of a sudden this flight started looking way up.

Josiah, a video game programmer, has recently been promoted and is flying to Germany for work. He never expected that his seatmate on the plane would be a sexy, tattooed Navy SEAL. Josiah notices the visible scars on Ryan and knows that he’s seen some real shit, but doesn’t really think much of it. It’s not until a flight attendant brings over a wheelchair that Josiah sees just how much damage the war has had on Ryan. Josiah has problems with his “filter” – he has fairly severe ADHD – and puts his foot in his mouth. Ryan takes Josiah’s surprised question the wrong way, and the connection they had gets a bit rocky.

Josiah wants to fix things though, and while they’re both stuck at the airport overnight, he offers Ryan the chance to play the game he works on. They spend the evening gaming and talking, and while there’s still the potential for a connection, they try to make it clear that they each only want to be friends. Ryan is not only getting over a failed relationship, but also the stress, frustration, and anger over his injury and what it means to his life (because he only ever saw himself as a Navy SEAL lifer). But when there’s a connection and simmering chemistry, staying “just friends” is never an option . . . 

Ryan grabbed a fistful of Josiah's shirt, holding him in place. He kissed Josiah back, a rough taking of his mouth that left Josiah breathing hard. Ryan tasted sweet, mouth still a little sticky with syrup. Josiah's tongue chased every last hint of sweet until all he tastes was Ryan -- assertive and sure with a heady undercurrent of need. Their positions were beyond awkward, yet he wanted to stay right here the rest of the day. He had to sit back on the bed when Ryan finally released him because his knees refused to straighten.

"Please tell me this isn't goodbye," he blurted, rubbing a hand over his face like that would help him save that kiss forever.

Ryan was silent a long moment, chewing on his lip. "I told you to text me from the airport."

"That's not what I meant and you know it." Hurt bloomed right behind Josiah's breastbone.

"I can't . . . I don't do long-distance relationships. And I'm not the best bet right now--"

"I'm not asking for a commitment." Josiah's voice was far more thready than he wanted. "But we had a good time messaging while I was in Germany. You can't deny that. I just want more of that. Friends."

Ha. He wanted far more than that. Ryan made him want what his friends had -- a real boyfriend at last. But saying that would only spook the best thing to ever happen to him.

"Friends," Ryan echoed. "I can do that. There's just on problem--" He grabbed Josiah again, making him stretch until their faces were almost touching. "I like kissing you too much."

Oh, how I loved these two! I loved the buildup from friends to lovers, I loved watching them carefully, sometimes awkwardly, negotiate the tricky “What are we?” relationship territory. I loved watching Ryan realize that not every offer of help is out of pity, and that accepting help doesn’t make him weak. Similarly, I loved watching Josiah realize that he can be someone’s support system, that he can take on more responsibilities. They each had to see that being in a relationship requires give-and-take. That is, there’s nothing wrong with sometimes needing the other for something, that it’s not a sign of weakness or inability.

I adored their texts and emails while they were apart, and felt that really added to their budding relationship, first as friends and then later as so much more. 

Josiah planted a soft kiss on Ryan's neck, then another on his jaw. His hands lightly massaged Ryan's aching arms. Ryan let out a scratchy laugh. "The pills give me whiskey dick, sorry, but keep barking up that tree. Feels nice."

"Wasn't kissing you to get lucky," Jos said and their eyes met and held. Even swimming through a sea of pain and meds, Ryan could see a shift happening, one he both wanted and dreaded in equal measure.

I care, Jos's eyes said. I care so much.

Ryan broke the contact because he cared too much, and he had no idea what to do with that emotion. Instead he buried his face in Jos's soft hair and inhaled his coconut-lime-sun-and-Josiah scent, breathing deep until the tightness in his chest eased a bit.

I loved the sexual tension and chemistry between Ryan and Josiah. Their first scene was a “do as I say” jerk off session in the bathroom and it was hella hot. Damn! (All their scenes after that are just as insanely sexy, too, because Albert knows what she’s doing.) Ryan is the more dominant, and since Josiah really gets off on being told what to do, this works out just fine. More than fine, really. Ryan does have to work through some personal hang ups he has about his body and its limitations, but Josiah is more than happy to be patient and help him in any way he can. Two words: naked Twister. ;)

"Get your hand slick again, and touch your dick. Slowly. No shooting off yet."

"Can't wait." Josiah's body arched up at the first touch of his slippery palm against his aching cock.

"Yes, you can." Ryan's voice had that commanding edge Josiah was coming to crave. "Look at me."

"Yeah." Josiah linked eyes with him, and fuck, the heat in Ryan's gaze was almost enough to tip him over.

"Follow my hand. Same rhythm," Ryan ordered, keeping up that glacial pace of his right hand.

"Oh fuck. I'm not that coordinated."

"Stop whining and start doing." If possible, Ryan moved even slower.

While this is the third in the series, it can easily be enjoyed as a standalone. I have loved each book and would definitely recommend reading them all. Compared to the previous two books, Connection Error definitely has more angst, as both men – Ryan in particular – work through their personal pain and frustrations. It’s a bit heartbreaking at times to see Ryan so unsure about himself, feeling completely lost without the things that have defined him for so long – his strength and stamina, his ability to do everything on his own, his duty as a SEAL and leader. It’s not that Ryan thinks he can’t do ANYTHING now that he’s disabled, but rather he has to grieve his loss and adjust to his new normal. Which he does, because Ryan is stubborn and strong like that.

I must say I really loved the ending, as it told us what happened in the months after their official relationship started. Josiah wants to prove that he can live on his own first, and wants Ryan to see that physical distance won’t kill their relationship (like it did Ryan’s previous relationship, or so he believes). Both great ideas for strengthening themselves and their relationship, and I always appreciate thoughtful, mature personal and relationship decisions like that.

"Thought you didn't cuddle." Jos snuggled in against Ryan's side.

"I do for you." Ryan said seriously. "Not much I wouldn't do for you."

Truly, I have nothing to point out and complain about. I wholeheartedly loved Josiah and Ryan. The fact that I read this after two meh books in a row was an added bonus, sure, but I would have loved Connection Error just as much regardless of the books I had finished last. If you’re new to Albert, this is definitely one I’d recommend, as you can easily jump in even without having read the previous two books. Plus, who can resist an adorable game developer and a strong-but-struggling tattooed SEAL? (Answer: No one. No one can resist that.)

4 1/2 STARS! 

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Annabeth Albert; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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Another great book where looking for quotes resulted in a partial reread. Oops. :)

Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on September 29th for a chance to WIN an ecopy of your own!


Until Next Time,


  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!

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