Book Review: Beta Test by Annabeth Albert

Beta Test (#gaymers #2)
by Annabeth Albert
Carina Press
M/M Contemporary/Friends to Lovers
Release Date: May 30 2016
5 Stars
ARC from Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher


Ravi Tandel is ahead of the game. He’s a top video game developer and he just got asked to present a top-secret project at a huge gaming conference in Seattle. All systems are a go…until he learns his office nemesis is coming along for the ride. Player vs. Player. Fight!

Newly minted MBA Tristan Jones doesn’t seem like the gaming type but he knows the business inside-out. Together, they’ll give an awesome presentation – they just have to survive the cross-country trip. Ravi’s opinion of Tristan is rebooted when he discovers a softer side to the conservative charmer and a new tension builds between them.

Despite their best efforts to keep it casual, things heat up quickly. Tristan is hiding his true self for fear of what his parents might think. Ravi knows that feeling all too well, but he didn’t disconnect from his family years ago only to hide who he is now. To be together, Tristan has to push past his fear and ultimately decide, does he want a future with Ravi? Or is it game over?


Review 5 Stars:

Ravi and Tristan both start working at the same video game company on the same day, but the two of them couldn't be more different.

Ravi is out and proud, loves to be the centre of attention, has lots of friends and volunteers for lots of gay charities. His desk is like him: full of personality and no holds barred.

Tristan on the other hand is semi-closeted, has few close friends and his idea of casual Friday is to perhaps loosen his tie a little. He likes order, needs everything to fit into a neat little box and Ravi's out and out gayness makes him uncomfortable. Does he have to broadcast it?

At a work dinner, Ravi finally decides to have it out with Tristan, for he thinks Tristan's discomfort is actually homophobia. But their little argument is overheard by most of the staff at the dinner, and now Tristan is out at work, whether he wanted to be or not. Ravi feels like heel for outing Tristan in public like that and resolves to make it to him.

He gets his chance, when after a food poisoning disaster with most of the other developers out of action, he and Tristan are the only two who can make it the big gaming convention in Seattle. There's one big problem though: the two who were supposed to go on the trip were a married couple and since the hotels are all fully booked, they have to make do with what was already on the reservation: one room.

I have to admit I have a soft spot for characters who have to endure some sort of forced closeness, such as a hotel room, or they get stuck in a broken lift, what have you. And Beta Test was no different, I really enjoyed the fact that our two heroes had to share the room or else.

This book has something that seems rare in a lot of fiction these days, it was almost like discovering a unicorn. The characters talk, they talk a lot and get to know each other before they jump into bed together (shared rooms or not.) You could see they really cared about each other and despite what they both at first told themselves, it wasn't casual sex. They were connected on an emotional as well as physical level and it really shone through in the love scenes.

They were hot, sensual, with vivid descriptions without resorting to being coarse. They are love scenes at the most fundamental level, not sex scenes.

Tristan had a lot of hang-ups about sex, his ex had told him he wasn't very good in bed, and he believed it. Tristan thought that once Ravi had a taste of just how terrible he was, Ravi would soon lose interest. Ravi is appalled that someone would actually say that to a lover and he sets out to show Tristan just how very good he is, and sets about teaching him.

Ravi and Tristan are both different characters, but they do say opposites attract, and I had no feelings of disconnection when reading about these two getting together. They were like jigsaw puzzle pieces that fit together just right. They both had some things in common of course, both had family dramas to deal with, but this book was low on the angst. Not that I mind angst, it was just good to see something different, something a bit lighter for a change.

Well written with lovable, sympathetic characters, Beta Test was a joy from first page to last and I still find myself smiling when I think of Ravi and Tristan. Now, that takes some doing - to keep thinking about the characters after the last page is turned.


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