Charlie Castle is an expert archer and a fierce warrior - in her favorite video game, anyway. But college life was a program she couldn't quite master. To land a cybertech job without a degree, she's entering a "hackfest" over spring break, where she also hopes to meet the sweet gamer who's been flirting with her online. Instead, she runs into the man she had once thought was the love of her life; the man who walked away years ago, without saying goodbye.
Jonah Best has never gotten over Charlie, whose kisses were always as deliciously creative as her coding. But now that they're face to face again, he doesn't know how to admit that her online admirer is really him - or how to convince her that he's offering her a job for her incredible skills, not her sex appeal. Can Jonah cut through their communication glitches and persuade Charlie that the next level up for them should be forever?
Kensington Books has graciously provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Her perfect game is the second book in Shannyn Schroeder’s Hot & Nerdy series, and can be read as a standalone novel.
The story focuses on Jonah and Charlie, former lovers facing a second chance at happily ever after. Their love story started years ago when Charlie’s college room-mate had committed suicide after an old boyfriend released very private materials of her over the internet. Charlie became determined to prevent such an atrocity from ever happening again and befriended Jonah, who taught her everything she needed to know about hacking. Charlie became obsessive in her efforts to prowl cyberspace looking for transgressors. Helplessly watching the girl he loved lose herself, Jonah could no longer stand by and watch Charlie engage in the self-destructive behaviour that had started to take over her life, and walked away from the girl he loved. Now, years later, he realises the error of his ways and wants a second shot at love. Charlie is her old self again, the girl he fell in love with, and she’s an even better hacker than he remembers.
Jonah’s abandonment gave Charlie the wake-up call she needed to get her life back on track. While she managed to get over her heartbreak, she never forgot the only man she truly loved. When she unexpectedly meets up with Jonah at a hackfest, Charlie can’t deny the pull she feels towards him, but something is holding her back - Charlie has started to fall for her online friend, "Win". Can she choose between the man she loved who had broken her heart and her trust, and the safe, reliable friend who had helped her heal her heart?
I had a hard time really getting into this story for two reasons. Firstly, I never felt connected to the characters; I never really got immersed in the story to the extent that I was heavily invested in the outcome. While I respect Charlie as a hacker and gamer, I never came to like her. I do appreciate, however, that Charlie is not your typical heroine. She has attitude, she’s nerdy and unapologetic for it. As for Jonah, I had a hard time dealing with his reason for leaving Charlie the way that he did. He claims he loved her too much to watch her self-destruct. For some reason this felt like an easy out to me. Perhaps because the author didn’t really establish exactly what Charlie had done that was so terrible. Personally I just didn’t get the impression that she was that far gone. Either way, to my mind you don’t abandon someone you love when they lose their way – you help them find their way back. The fact that Jonah left without first breaking up with her, without even saying goodbye? I had a hard time respecting him after that. Sure he was remorseful and sweet, but I never came to believe Jonah was sincere in his reasoning.
Secondly, the whole hacking aspect wasn’t really explained in a way that I could understand. It just didn’t translate well. I never knew if the characters were playing some kind of game and were using their skills to create cheats, or whether they were working in Matrix like code. I had absolutely no idea what was going on, on the computer screens. Having said that, I do appreciate the fact that the author wrote a book about a girl gamer/hacker, and that she was good enough to give the guys a run for their money. I also enjoyed the convention setting. The author took me to Comic-Con, if you will, and those scenes were quite enjoyable. While I may not have bonded with the characters in the way that I wanted, I do think that the author did a good job of portraying the chemistry between Jonah and Charlie. It was obvious they were still very much infatuated with each other despite their separation, and their connection was tangible. However, I do feel that Charlie fell back into Jonah’s arms way too easily and way too quickly – he should have had to work for it just a little given the way he had abandoned her.
Title: Her perfect game
Author: Shannyn Schroeder
Publisher: Kensington Books