(Gaming the System #3)
Publication date: October 31st 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Mia Strong never expected to be deciding the rest of her life at age twenty-two. Is she willing to become a human lab rat? Does she need to write a will? Does she ever want a family–and if so, with whom? She can’t dodge the tough questions–not if she plans to live to see twenty-three. With her life hanging in the balance, Mia wants nothing more than to rely on Adam Drake, but he’s hurt her before.
You Must Gather Your Party Before Venturing Forth…
Adam Drake knows that he’s made mistakes, but when he discovers what Mia’s facing, he realizes how much those mistakes could cost him. Now he has to choose between being the man who can save Mia’s life or the man she can love. No matter how much it tears him apart, Adam knows he has to put Mia first…even if it means he’s out of the picture entirely.
Will their love survive this epic battle or is it game over?
This novel is the third and final book in Adam and Mia’s trilogy, but they will be featured in future Gaming the System novels.
She waited to answer me, keeping her gaze glued to the sky. “I can’t find Draco.”
I looked up again. There were no stars to be seen. The black of night was completely covered by the dull gray of low coastal clouds.
She took in a shaky breath and then shot me a look before her eyes darted away like skittish birds. “You told me that Draco is always in the sky—no matter what time of night, no matter where you are in the northern hemisphere. You can always find it. But I can’t see it tonight. What does that mean?”
I reached out and touched her smooth, cool cheek with the back of my knuckles. She was trembling so slightly that it was almost impossible to notice. “You can’t see Draco because you can’t see any stars tonight. It’s the marine layer.”
The breath shivered out between her lips and she closed her eyes. I continued to stroke her cheek. “I want to see it. I need to see it.”
“You just have to trust me. You can’t see it, but it’s there, I promise. Do you trust me?”
Her head sank as she lay back flat on the sand. I bent over her, looking upside down into her eyes. Our gazes locked. Suddenly it was hard to breathe. I stroked her cheek again. Her eyelids fluttered like butterfly wings. She was as delicate as one of them. As fragile. And I’d never thought of her in those terms before.
She was vulnerable. And in many ways she was at the mercy of everyone around her. Including me. My throat tightened.
She watched me for long moments, reaching up and hooking her hand around my neck as if afraid I would pull away. “You know what I love most about your eyes?” she asked.
I frowned, confused at the abrupt change of subject.
Her thumb moved across the back of my neck and I tried to ignore the tingling her light touch evoked. I wanted to pull her hand away but she was so breakable.
“They are so beautiful—your eyes. And so different.”
I sighed, tried to laugh it off. Emilia’s intensity was unusual but not surprising. It didn’t take a genius to understand why she’d be feeling somber tonight. “Men don’t like being called beautiful…”
She grimaced at me and I saw a glimpse of my Mia return. “Whatever. Deal with it. Your eyes are beautiful. In a totally manly way, of course.”
I smiled but didn’t reply.
She tightened the clamp of her hand around my neck, pulling me closer to her. Our eyes were inches from each other but I didn’t look away though intensity of her gaze made me feel like I was staring into a 1000-watt spotlight.
“They are so dark, so mysterious. I used to think of them as curtains, or shutters. To close off what was going on inside. But tonight I think of them as…mirrors. Reflecting everything. I can see myself in there.”
My breath stuttered a little. “Oh…” I answered in the smallest whisper that seemed to get swallowed up in the ambient sounds around us, the regular lap of the water on the shore, the distant hiss of the freeway even in the early morning. “Oh, you’re in there, Mia. You are most definitely in there.”
And then without thinking, just feeling, my mouth sank to hers. I was bent over her, our heads facing different ways, my top lip sealed over her bottom lip, and she opened to me and I tasted her. I was kissing her upside down. And this kiss held more than passion, more than a declaration of desire. It held love. My love. Her love. They collided like waves crashing against a barrier that prevented them from meeting. Like that rugged, unmovable jetty that protected the harbor from the worst of the weather on the south-facing coast.
“Spider-man kisses,” she murmured against my mouth. I kissed her chin, her cheeks and the tip of her nose. She referred to the famous kiss Spider-man shared with Mary Jane in the first Marvel movie. Completely unaware that Spider-man was her next-door neighbor, Peter Parker, Mary Jane had peeled back his mask from the bottom half of his face and passionately kissed him in the rain as he dangled upside down from his web. Spider-man kisses.
But was I as disguised to her as Peter Parker had been from Mary Jane? In many ways, I was. I wore a mask because this wasn’t the time for us to deal with all the bullshit that had gone on between us. My lies. Her lies. Our respective secrets. They’d created that barrier between our hearts and there was no telling if they were surmountable.
A thin, silvery tear leaked from the corner of her eye. I pretended not to notice, pulling back, stroking her cheek.
“I’m sorry…for everything,” she whispered.
“I know. I’m sorry for everything too.”
ARC received in exchange for an honest review.
There is an easy solution avoid book hangovers.
The answer is to wait until the entire series is completed.
Just because the solution is easy doesn’t mean it isn’t painful.
Just like in book hangovers, the easiest solution to most relationship problems is to trust and to communicate with your partner. And just because communicating may sound easy doesn’t mean it won’t be painful. While on the road to their forever, Adam and Mia have to learn to live together through the rocky relationship road, and how to go through life when impossible decisions have to be made.
Deciding the rest of your life when you’re twenty-two years old isn’t easy. Life as she knows it, has become extremely complicated for Mia Strong. When faced with decisions that could change her life, or what’s left of it, she wants nothing more than to have her boyfriend, Adam Drake at her side supporting her. However, he has his own ideas of what their happily ever after should look like. Feeling hurt, betrayed and left out of Mia’s life for the past several months, Adam now knows the secrets she’s been hiding. After messing things up with her he’s determined to support her and be a much better boyfriend. Even though he wants to put Mia first he can’t support the decisions she’s about to make regarding their future and her health. Adam and Mia have to make the ultimate decision in deciding what’s more important, being together, or being alive.
Readers, I think, indulge in romance and contemporary romance novels as an escape into a world where romance actually exists. Where there are happily ever afters, where the man will do whatever it takes to make the girl happy, he’ll make sacrifices, put her first above everything, in order to give her the life she deserves. But real happily ever afters and real life romances aren’t like that. They’re hard, they’re stressful, they’re nothing if not painful, but it’s the hard-earned happily ever afters that are the most fulfilling.
My birth certificate might have stated that I was twenty-two years old but inside I still felt like a girl, immature, scared. Afraid to come out of her shell, open herself up, take a risk. Deep down I was that girl inside the body of a woman. Everyone around me seemed so much more together, so much more in touch with who they were as adults. Especially Adam.
If you’re looking for a typical contemporary romance, where the characters are so happy and everything is honkydory until the very end when shi- hits the fan and all this drama happens, but the main characters find each other and live happily ever after, then this book is NOT for you. At Any Moment is HARD, it’s RAW, it’s EMOTIONAL and full of hard choices. That is definitely one thing this book is full of – hard, raw, and real emotional choices that Adam and Mia have to face. It isn’t fair that a twenty-two year old has to decide these things when she’s so young, having her youth and potentially her lover taken from her. And it isn’t fair that Adam may have to spend the rest of his life without the love of his life at his side. I’m warning you, this is not an easy book to swallow.
I think the worst part and probably the best part, though many will argue, is that in the end, you really don’t know whether or not Adam and Mia will still be okay and still be together? As a reader, you believe and you hold onto your gut feeling that there will be a happily ever after, but while you’re reading, you just aren’t sure… I believe it is much more difficult to write a story that keeps the reader guessing, rather than writing the simple happily ever after formula. Props to Aubrey for keeping her readers on their toes!
But one thing I’d learned in the previous few months of utter tribulation that we had gone through…happiness and love were fragile things. And we should be thankful for what we have when we have it.
Rather than focusing on all the sad things that bring this couple down let’s move for a moment to the happy things. At Any Moment really does have its moments when you know things are going to be alright. What I missed most of all was the geekiness. Oh how much I missed the Star Wars and the Doctor Who and Firefly references. Let’s forget about serious books and go back to happy ones instead! I mean, don’t judge but I didn’t know about a handful of these references till I read this book! And that’s saying something.
“So the only thing machete order does is eliminate the existence of The Phantom Menace.”
“Yerp. But it’s worth it, isn’t it?”
“Hmm, would be more worth it if someone pulled out a machete and hacked Jar Jar’s head off in the first scene. That’s what I’d call ‘machete order’.”
Besides all the nitty gritty hard stuff and the spurts of geeky relief, what you have is an emotional novel with a beautiful and belivable ending. Life can change at any moment, so never forget to appreciate what you have. Love and relationships aren’t easy, but are worth every moment in their happily ever after.
4/5 Hearts of Love
- 1 compass locket on a chain (US only)
- Signed copies of all 3 books in the series (US only)
- $15 Apple iBooks or Amazon Kindle gift card (International only)
Brenna Aubrey is an author of New Adult contemporary romance stories that center on geek culture. Her debut novel, At Any Price, released December, 2013.
She has always sought comfort in good books and the long, involved stories she weaves in her head. Brenna is a city girl with a nature-lover’s heart. She therefore finds herself out in green open spaces any chance she can get. A mommy to two little kids and teacher to many more older kids, she juggles schedules to find time to pursue her love of storycrafting.
She currently resides on the west coast with her husband, two children, two adorable golden retriever pups, two birds and some fish.
Brenna’s short story “The Love Letter” was the Grand Prize winner of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest. As such, it was included in the anthology of the same name (Ballantine, 2011)