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All her life, Katie has been chosen last for everything: the last picked on the playground, the last picked by her absent father, and definitely the last picked by boys-even her secret crush, Alex, friend-zoned her. This senior year, Katie is determined to come first.
But then Alex asks her to help him find a date?!
Alex has been living life in the fast lane, but he's ready to slow down-with a girlfriend. The last person on earth he'd consider? The girl his brother developed serious feelings for before he died: Katie. The only way Alex is going to get over Katie is by falling for someone new. And who better to help him find his new crush than the girl he can't stop thinking about?
What can possibly go wrong?
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.57(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Fairy_gurl hovered before the enemy, her iridescent wings beating in a blur. She nocked another arrow and murmured the words to a spell that would ensure it hit its mark: the fierce red dragon the size of a Wal-Mart. The tip began glowing with her power. She held her breath and let it fly. It hit, all right, but it ricocheted off the beast's scales, clanging with failure. This baddie was going to be as tough as calculus.
In response to her pathetic attack, the dragon snorted, almost laughing at her like she was a mere orchard gnome. A cloud of smoke puffed out its nostrils, sending heat waves shifting in the air between them. Its maw spread wide, giving a clear look at the fire glowing deep inside the creature.
Katie gritted her teeth and tapped the keyboard buttons so hard her fingers hurt. "Come on, Fairy_gurl. Go, go, go!"
Wide eyes fixed on the computer screen, she urged her avatar to fly away, wings kicking into overdrive. And whoosh, the fairy was engulfed in flames.
Delicate wings sizzled. An orange glow tinted the screen. The health meter in the corner drained of color, causing Katie's heart to skip a beat.
"Fairy_gurl!" an anxious voice rang through her headphones. It was Dark_Prince, a.k.a. her best friend, Alex.
Katie's fingers moved in a blur over the keyboard, and her avatar dove through the smoke. When the screen cleared, she spotted Dark_Prince below with his tall, lean body and handsome elven face. But not nearly as handsome as Alex was in real life.
Her fairy must have appeared on his screen, because he let out a slow breath. "Oh, there you are. Are you all right?"
The relief in his voice made her heart skip for a whole new reason, but she tried to keep her voice cool when she spoke into the mic on her headset.
"Nothing a little healing spell won't cure." She dropped her avatar lightly to the ground next to his. With a click of her mouse, the fairy on screen waggled her fingers. A burst of glitter fell over her head, landing on her smoldering wings and healing them instantly. "There. Good as new."
"Perfect as always," he said.
She snorted but said nothing. Two years ago, that kind of comment would have made her blush, but he said that kind of stuff all the time. He didn't mean it that way. At least, that's what she had to tell herself. If he really meant it, they'd be together, right?
That was just part of the Alex Masse charm, something every girl got a piece of. Besides, if she were really perfect, she'd have had a boyfriend by now — and Kyle Jacobs in ninth grade didn't count. But that was why she had The Plan.
Senior year was about to begin. It meant a fresh start, a chance to really come out of her shell. This year, Katie would be confident, sexier, funnier. She'd be a better version of herself, someone who things happened for. She'd come first in life and not dead last like she was used to. Last picked out of line for Red Rover in elementary school, last when it came to her father splitting without fighting for custody, and definitely last picked by boys.
It was time Katie came first.
On her screen, the dark sorceress of their group glided into view — the mysterious Pizzalover. As she joined Katie and Alex's avatars, an invisible wind blew her cloak open. The voluptuous, scantily clad female figure hidden beneath always made Katie question the game's T rating for teens.
Pizzalover slid her hood back and slipped the tiara of dead souls over her sleek, black locks, arming herself for the battle. Her eyes flashed red as the accessory powered her up. She was beautiful and feminine, but the voice that came through Katie's headphones was anything but that of a seductive sorceress.
"Less talky talky. More stabby stabby," said a deep voice belonging to twenty-five-year-old Trevor. On screen, his sorceress jabbed her staff at the empty air in demonstration. "We need to get past this overgrown lizard if we're going to enter the Dwarf Mountains and search for the God Sword."
At that moment, the dragon spun, whipping its tail. It swept over the ground in a deadly circle toward them, rustling the tall grass like a whispered promise: you're dead.
"Look out!" Katie hit the button for her leaf shield and braced for the skull- crushing force, but it never came. When she changed the camera angle, she saw a pair of thick arms wrapped around the tail, holding it back to protect them.
Those arms belonged to the fourth member of their group. A great, purple ogre from the Porcupine Hills, one with a strength Katie had never seen the likes of before in a level forty-six. He was known throughout the lands as the mighty, the terrible ... Sugarplum.
Dark_Prince whoo-hooed. "Nice work, Sugarplum!"
The giggle of a ten-year-old girl bubbled through Katie's headphones. "Thanks," Penny said.
The dragon released an ear-piercing screech as it tried to flick its tail out of Sugarplum's tight grasp. The ogre ground his brick-like teeth and held tight, muscles twitching, bare heels digging into the ground. "I can't hold on for much ... longer ... "
With a violent twist, the scaled beast finally won the tug of war, flinging Sugarplum aside. The ogre soared through the air and landed in front of Katie's avatar. After she doused him with a small healing spell, he got up and dusted himself off.
Alex groaned. "This is so frustrating. Hold on a second, guys. I'm going to equip different armor and weapons."
"Me, too," Penny said. "I need my mace."
"Let's fall back and regroup," Trevor suggested.
The warriors retreated to a safe distance beyond the dragon's reach. It seemed reluctant to abandon its post in front of the Dwarf Mountains, making Katie certain it was protecting the rumored secret entrance.
While waiting for the others to search their inventory, swapping leather tunics for chainmail and wool leggings for fireproof ones, Katie leaned back in her desk chair. She blinked at her surroundings. As the grassy Eternal Plains gave way to her small bedroom wallpapered with anime posters, the world of Caroon shrunk until it was just an image on the computer screen in front of her.
It always amazed her how the game sucked her in. How real it felt. Not like she was seeing it play out online, but like she was actually there, living it, breathing it, experiencing it. Like she became Fairy_gurl.
As she stretched, Katie caught sight of herself in the dresser mirror. Turning her head this way and that, she checked her freshly applied eye shadow.
She didn't know much about makeup, but it seemed like her practice was paying off. At least she didn't look like a clown school dropout anymore, which was good, since there were only two days left to prepare, two days until the start of senior year and the launch of The Plan.
But something was still missing ... Lipstick, she realized.
Keeping her cordless headphones on, she rushed to the mirror. She grabbed a ruby-red lip liner and consulted the magazine on her dresser already opened to "How to get Kissable Lips."
Although she wasn't used to wearing so much makeup, she'd read that giving yourself a makeover gave you a boost of confidence. When she walked through the doors into Porterville High, she wanted heads to turn.
"Is that Katie Warner?" the other students would ask in shock. It would be just like that Katy Perry song, "One of the Boys." Over the summer, something had definitely changed for Katie.
Once her lips were lined, to finish off the look, she smeared on Bodaciously Bold lipstick. She puckered up in the mirror. Yup, she was ready. Totally kissable. Or at least, she thought so. However, there was only one way to really know. Only one person experienced enough with girls and dating who could tell her for sure: Alex. After all, who else would know what a "kissable" girl looked like other than the guy who'd kissed them all?
He'd been away for the last week visiting family in San Jose with his parents, and he'd only just returned. Since they'd met during the summer after freshman year, this was the longest they'd gone without seeing each other. Katie had been practicing her New Look the whole time. No one had seen it. She wanted Alex to be the first, so she could get a true reaction from him: the expert.
Before she could chicken out, she typed Alex a direct message in the game so the others couldn't see it.
Hey, can you come over? There's something I want to ask you.
With a shaking finger, she clicked on send.
She wasn't sure why his opinion meant so much to her. Sure, he was her best friend, but if she were honest with herself, she supposed a little piece of her hoped Alex would see her the way he saw other girls. The way she'd wanted him to see her when they'd first met. She wanted to show him what he'd be missing out on.
When they'd first become friends, they'd grown close quickly. Being with him had felt so natural. She'd assumed it was only a matter of time before things heated up. But everything changed when his brother, Jason, died of cancer.
With so many things happening in Alex's life, what he'd needed was a friend, so that's exactly what Katie had been. And that's what she remained, because Alex's feelings for her seemed to shift — to the cheerleading squad, and the girl's swim team, and the gymnastics club ...
But she was over the disappointment now. Totally over it. Ready to move on. It was all part of The Plan.
A trumpet blast in her headphones announced a response from Alex. Lunging for the mouse again, she clicked on the message to open it.
Sure, I'll head over once we finish playing. There's actually something I want to talk to you about, too.
What could that be about? They talked at least once a day. Sometimes it felt like she already knew everything about him.
While she waited for Alex and Penny to resume the game, she grabbed a magazine from her dresser. She flipped to the dog-eared page in the middle and scanned it like she was cramming for a test. But this was way more important than a test.
How to Hook Your Guy:
1. Look your best
2. Act confident
3. Be flirty
4. Stand out
5. Show your sexy side
6. Try new things
A car door slammed outside, startling Katie. She peered between her curtains and down to the driveway. It was a moving van next door. The house had been up for sale since spring. A Sold sign appeared only a few weeks before.
Katie spied for a while, watching a couple around her mom's age begin unloading the van. She was about to turn away when a thunderous roar erupted outside.
She squished her face against the windowpane to get a better look. After a moment, the noise transitioned into an aggressive rumble and a motorcycle appeared. It rolled down the neighbors' driveway, the identity of its mysterious leather-clad rider hidden beneath a full helmet.
The tires chirped as the bike cut onto the road. Another growl and it sped off, leaving the couple shaking their heads. Katie, too. She scowled, pushing away from the window. Idiot.
Sure, she felt like she defied death on a regular basis by joining Alex on his adrenaline junkie adventures — part of his new lease on life — but they were always in a controlled environment. Totally safe. Messing around on motorcycles? The guy must have a death wish.
The deep purr of the engine faded into the distance just as Penny's voice came through her headphones. "Okay. I'm all set."
"I'm ready, too," Alex said. "Let's get into those mountains. Anyone happen to know how to kill a dragon?"
Katie blew out a breath and plopped into her desk chair. "The only way we're going to beat it is if we focus our efforts. Trevor, do you think you can paralyze this guy before he takes flight again?"
"I can hold him down," he said, "but for something his size, that's about all I can handle."
Pizzalover's aura began buzzing with energy. Her eyes turned inky black. As she laid her hands on the earth, a pulse shook the ground beneath Fairy_gurl's feet.
Dark walls rose up around them, shifting and swirling like oil on water. When they joined at the top, it formed an orb, trapping them inside with the dragon. Their fates were entwined.
With a few taps on her keyboard, Katie's fairy took to the air. "I'll draw the dragon's firepower. Penny, get ready for a game of piÃ±ata."
"Already playing!" she said as the ogre charged the dragon and gave it a couple of shots to the belly with his mace. "Gimme some candy!"
"Alex, can you help her?" Katie asked. "We need to find its weakness by trial and error."
"That's why you're the idea girl." The dark elf drew his curved dual blades before racing toward the creature.
While the others searched for a weakness, Katie flew Fairy_gurl around the dragon's head. She zapped the beast with a barrage of spells, keeping the enemy's focus — and occasional blast of flames — on her.
As she raced around the dragon, it stretched its swan-like neck to snap at her. That's when Katie saw it. The light flicker beneath its jaw, quivering down the length of the neck, pulsating: a heartbeat.
Opening her weapon inventory, Katie equipped a bow. Steadily, she nocked an arrow, held her breath, and hit the button to fire. It struck the center of the beating pulse and sank into scaly flesh.
The dragon choked. The constant glow of fire sputtered and died in its throat.
"There!" Katie cried out, pointing for the others to see. Then she realized they couldn't see her pointing at the computer screen. "The scales are thinner on the neck, just below its jaw."
Katie gave a little whoop of success, but it was cut short when the dragon darted forward, razor teeth chomping down on the fairy's wings. Her avatar cried out. The beast whipped its head back and forth, shaking her like a ragdoll. The Eternal Plains spun on the computer screen, making Katie dizzy.
Alex gasped. "Fairy_gurl!"
She tried everything, space bar,Ctrl,shift, W, A, S, D, but her avatar didn't budge. "I can't get free."
"Sugarplum, time for a Combo Attack." Dark_Prince sprinted across the screen. "Slingshot me up there."
Katie saw the ogre grab Dark_Prince in a meaty hand and throw him like a javelin straight at the dragon. Alex's grunt came through her headphones like it was really him sailing through the air.
It sent shivers down Katie's spine. He was coming to save her. Or, if he didn't make it in time, at least he'd avenge her.
The dragon responded with a snort that said bring it on. Smoke obscured Katie's screen, threatening the hellfire to come. Hanging before the entrance to the inferno, she feared that wasn't something she'd bounce back from.
She was going to die. Everything she'd worked so hard for would be lost. Over two years of gameplay, of painstakingly leveling up, of honing her skills, all gone. She'd have to start over again from level one!
A second later, Dark_Prince appeared, leaping toward her through the smoggy air. As he fell, he twisted and slashed his sword downward, stabbing it through the dragon's neck. It sank into the soft flesh over its throbbing heartbeat.
Black blood sprayed out in a gross sloshing sound. As the elf dropped to the ground, he dragged the blade down the dragon's neck, filleting its throat.
The beast coughed, like Katie's uncle Doug choking on his own cigarette. It convulsed and shook as smoke puffed out in dark, billowing clouds. The violent shudders shook her fairy free, and she flew to safety.
Their target now obvious, together they made quick work of the dragon. When it finally fell, it cleared the way to a cave that led deep inside of the Dwarf Mountains. They'd done it!
Sugarplum did a happy dance, shaking his pelt-covered booty. Pizzalover downed her mana potion like a celebratory drink to recover her powers, and Dark_Prince wasted no time picking through the loot dropped by the dragon: priceless scales, rusty armor from fallen knights, rubies, and gold.
With a few clicks of her mouse, Katie cast a healing spell. It fell over her and the team in a sparkle of pink.
"Do you guys want to keep going?" Trevor asked. "I don't want to stop now that we've opened up the new area. The God Sword is somewhere in these mountains. I just know it."
"Aww," Penny whined. "I've got chores to do. But Mom says if I get them done really quick, I can play more later."
"Great," Alex said. "Let's all meet in a couple of hours."
"See you guys later," Trevor said.
The others signed out of the game and disappeared in little puffs of smoke, leaving Katie and Alex alone.
"So, are you coming over now?" Katie asked. She hoped he didn't hear the nervous hitch in her voice.
"Just can't get enough of me hanging around this summer?" he teased.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Playing Her Secret Crush"
Copyright © 2018 Casey Griffin.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.5 stars — Okay, I had NO IDEA that this was going to feature nerdiness and gaming!! While I’m not a gamer of ANY TYPE whatsoever, I really loved having another nerdy little book to read!! The elements of the game that Ms. Griffin added to the book were so real and rich and really added to the story… I was super pleasantly surprised by this book! Not that I had low expectations or anything, I guess I just didn’t have ANY expectations, and I enjoyed myself so much! 1) I love a good friends to lovers trope. 2) I adore nerdiness. 3) Some secondary diversity, yay! 4) Dude, both characters went through so much development in this story. 5) I’m sure I have more, but enough with the numbers already. I was SOOOOOO worried that I was going to get frustrated with the back and forth, as I had in my previous friends to lovers read…not to mention my heart immediately started aching with the introduction of Lexi, and I was so worried about the direction the book was going to take. BUT THEN something magical happened. The ups and downs of Alex and Katie’s journey to each other made sense for them, and totally worked out on a timeline I could appreciate. This is not to say that I didn’t grow frustrated with them, or that I didn’t groan at some choices…but I expect a bit of that. I was just worried it was going to be too much, you know? Alex was hella damaged yo. Seeing him struggling with his grief by ignoring it just broke my heart. And knowing what his brother meant while Alex kept sticking to his misinterpretation was HARD!!! But the thing I appreciated about Alex’s struggles, and his “playboy” ways, is that it all had a purpose. And you could tell that even Alex didn’t really feel like it was him, but that he was trying to live up to a promise to his brother. Still…that boy was stubborn. But I think that’s what made his turnaround so satisfying — I felt it…I saw him starting to figure things out. I believed it when he did finally. And Katie’s struggles with learning to love herself and pick herself first was equally as important! I sometimes find that one character’s story overshadows another, but I didn’t really feel that in this one. I FELT for Katie feeling like she was always picked last and looked over. My heart hurt for her as she struggled to figure out how to change that. I cheered for her when she finally figured out that it wasn’t about her outer appearance! Her journey was truly satisfying, and took the right amount of time to believe that her growth was realistic. The two of them together were both ridiculously adorable and frustrating! But I actually understood each of their reluctance to admit their feelings for the other. It didn’t feel unreasonable, even as it made me want to smack them. I loved the way they cared for one another. I loved the butterflies I got when they had their moments…AND THAT KISS!! Or rather kisses! Their love story was truly adorable. I had a few moments where I was worried about how the story was going to play out, and sometimes I still wasn’t super happy (uh concussion??), but in the end Ms. Griffin always brought back consequences so that I was appeased. This book had a secondary cast whose appearances really added to the story. I adored Penny and Trevor, and their little motley crew. I loved the moments Katie had with her Mom. Ben was even kind of adorable, even if he wasn’t right for Katie. But MOSTLY I was super impressed with Lexi. The story with Lexi was so mu
Playing Her Secret Crush is a cute, friends-to-lovers YA romance. The "playing" in the title refers to the online RPG that Katie and Alex play as part of a team--it's actually a huge part of the story, even though the blurb doesn't really reveal that. It was a fun part to read--probably even more fun if you're a gamer yourself :) The biggest roadblock to Katie and Alex being together was the fact that Alex's older brother had (kind of, maybe? He seemed a bit fuzzy on the details at times on this) said he liked Katie just before he died, which for Alex seemed to mean that she was therefore forever his brother's girl--this was more than a little annoying. Since pretty much all of Alex's self-destructive tendencies came from what he thought he "should" do for his brother, though, he fortunately gets over them all at once in pretty dramatic fashion--and just in time, of course. New gaming teammate and neighbor Lexi provided a fun distraction throughout--geesh, though, Katie and Alex were super slow to figure out what was perfectly obvious to the reader--she got an HEA of her own too (probably, we didn't really see it all to the end but it's strongly implied) which was a nice touch. This was my first book from this author, but probably not my last! Rating: 4 stars / B I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
**The publisher sent me over a free e-ARC for a review. It doesn't affect my opinion at all!** Ugh, I'm so torn about the rating right now. I'm so in the middle of a two or a three, but I honestly don't know which one that it's leaning toward either. I'm going with a 2 for the moment, but it's was close to being up to a 3 - and I think the only thing stopping me was that I don't think it's going to be that memorable in the long run. That being said, this book had some super fun moments and was pretty adorable. It had a slow burn romance that kept me forever teetering in that sweet spot of will-they-won't-they miscommunication. I liked one of our main characters, Katie, a lot. I liked her voice. I got her. I thought she was a delightful character, and I thought she could definitely be a good friend. The other main character, Alex? Eh, meh. Idk, he was just kind of there. I really wasn't feeling him. I also really liked Lexi a lot! She was a really good friend, and her, Penny, and Trevor were a great gaming gang. I'm also a bit torn on the message that the book was sending either. I think Griffin did a pretty good job of subverting tropes at times, and not so good at the other times. Usually in contemporaries, there is a ton of girl hate since some are so focused on romance. For the most part, there wasn't any girl hate at all when Katie was competing against Lexi for Alex's love. There were a few times I saw it peak its ugly head, but it was mostly not there. As for the whole changing your image for a guy? I totally felt there was a good moral of just being yourself but I felt like Alex's voice kind of contradicted some of those messages - which made me not like reading his voice as much, I think. And I kind of felt that there wasn't enough of a message said at the end to really drive it through. However, I do love how gaming was celebrated in this novel - even though I don't like gaming myself. The ship was cute, although I totally think the true ship was missed, LOL. But it was cute. I could feel the feels, and they had me on the cusp of COME ON, LET'S GET TOGETHER BUT MAYBE NOT the entire time and I do love that edge. Griffin did it quite well. I love a good miscommunication to drag the ship out a bit more - it's where the feels are so real. However, I felt like they were just being so stupid at the end. There was WAY too much miscommunication for no point, and it just turned into a mess. It wasn't fun miscommunication anymore but just stupid and I just wanted it to get on with it. The writing was nice and easy, though. It was super easy to read and I sped through the book so easily. Definitely a nice, breezy summer contemporary read. Overall, I'm still a bit torn on the rating. I think there were some questionable things that left me wanting and expecting a bit more for this book. I think it just missed the potential it had to be great. However, there were some great parts including a good gaming game, a likeable main character, and easy, breezy writing. It has some good, but I'm not sure I would recommend if you're looking for something deeper. 2 crowns and a Cinderella rating.
Playing Her Secret Crush by Casey Griffin is a friends to relationship story. Katie has a thing for her serial dater friend Alex and Alex has feeling for her too, but not only is she his friend, she is the girl his brother liked before he he died. They like each other, but are off limits. When Alex asks Katie to help him find a serious girlfriend feelings kept hidden are getting more complicated. The gaming setting was a nice added aspect of this story and the reason behind their not getting together makes it seem the blinders that Alex has put up are grounded in a real reason. I felt that they developed a lot during the course of the story and that each became a better person in general and for each other as the story progressed. Overall Playing Her Secret Crush by Casey Griffin was a fun, quick and quirky young adult story that takes a friends to relationship theme and adds its own thing. (I voluntarily reviewed an advance review copy of this book I received for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
Alex and Katie; best friends, super gamers, nerds to the core and totally in love with each other. So, what's stopping them? Alex lost his brother and his brother liked Katie. Now he feels she is off limits. He dates a new girl every week and tries to walk in his brother's footsteps. He lives life to the fullest, but at heart, he's a gamer nerd. Katie wants a boyfriend and believes Alex would have stepped up if he was interested. Now she's dating, Alex and Katie are fighting. They just can't stop bickering. Playing her secret crush is a little frustrating and totally nerdy . It has a sad undertone and a lot of gaming. I'm not sure the title fits the book. I think it's referring to gaming and the fact they can't share their feelings. Lexi is the character to watch out for in this book. Events could have gone so wrong but she's a cool chick. Alex is only compatible with one girl, Katie. I felt Alex used girls to hide his feelings, and this didn't always come across in a good light, but the reasoning made sense. He reminded me of the guy who doesn't realise how lucky he is to get the girl. This one is for the online pc gaming fans. 3 stars out of 5. Overall this book was good but certain scenes could have easily gone so wrong. *I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Loved this story. It's a sweet YA friends to more story and Alex and Katie are amazing characters. While the gaming aspect of this story weren't to my personal taste (I'm old) I can see how that would appeal to some. It seems well done and researched. Both Alex and Katie are attracted to each other but neither has tried to take the relationship beyond friendship. Now spending so much time together preparing for a huge gaming competition proves to much and it's hard to keep their feelings under wraps. Is it finally their time?? I highly recommend this one to all YA readers.
"Playing Her Secret Crush" follows Katie and Alex as they enter their senior year of high school. Katie has decided it's time for a makeover- she has had a crush on Alex for years, but she has been permanently friend-zoned. She has read the magazines, invested her money in make-up and new clothes, and this year will be different- she's going to get a date, make other friends, and put herself out there. She and Alex have been super close for years- since she met him in the hospital with his brother and started playing a multi-player game with them. After his brother's death, Alex took his brother's forced promise to live life to fullest as a requirement to date a new girl every week and live life on the edge with adrenaline-pumping activities. Katie is his best friend- and though he used to have a crush on her, she is so much more now- she's his everything. But he still wouldn't want to date her. He feels like, based on the things his brother said before he died, that his brother had a crush on her, and he doesn't want to date his brother's girl. Now, he is asking Katie to help him find a real girlfriend- not one that will fade out in a week, but something more serious. Although his request is heart-breaking, Katie is the best of friends and just wants him to be happy- even if it's with the hot girl next door, Lexi, instead of her. Katie is the ultimate wing-woman. However, now, Katie is willing to make some more moves and might find a boyfriend herself. Caught between misunderstandings, mishaps, and some hot and cold/back and forth, Katie and Alex are dancing around the truth. Alex was a bit hard to like at times- he really steamrolls over everyone else's feelings, including Lexi, who is pretty clearly not interested in him (but why should that stop him?), but mostly Katie. Although he lost his brother and is clearly still grieving, I found him somewhat cruel and wished that Katie had gotten together with someone who really respected and noticed her more (it was kind of obvious who it was early on but still comes out as a "surprise," but the way it was handled was pretty good- I am being vague to avoid potential spoilers). Alex does improve and have some revelations towards the end that makes him more likable. The gaming/team was a nice setting, and I really liked following their team's path through the game. Also, the other team members were also really awesome! Overall, it was a cute story and a fun setting. I'd be interested in hearing Lexi's story in the future... Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.