Author: Annabeth Albert
Series Title and Number: #Gaymers, Book 3, but stands alone well too
Publisher: CARINA PRESS
Cover Artist: CARINA PRESS
Release Date: September 5, 2016
Heat Level: 4 (explicit m/m sex, but lots and lots of plot too!)
Length: approx. 66,000 words
Genre/Tags: Romance, M/m Romance, contemporary romance, military 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?
Book Three of the #gaymers series
Somewhere between the third
newsstand and the fourth moving sidewalk in LAX, Josiah regretted not joining
his friend Ravi in training for a 10k charity race. Nothing like a flat-out
sprint from the check-in counter to the slow-moving security lines and another
dash from security all the way through gates to make him rethink his
aversion to cardio. And the worst part was that for once in his life he’d made
every effort to be on time, getting up before the alarm, starting coffee,
making sure they were out of the house by o’dark thirty ready for his early
morning flight to Germany via a stop in Washington, DC.
Carry-on with both laptops, tablet
and assorted accessories? Check.
Suitcase with more shirts with
buttons than he’d ever owned in his life? Check.
Double-checking that his ticket was
booked under “Josiah” not “Joseph”? Total fail, but in his defense, it
never occurred to him that the travel agency his employer used would give the
wrong name. And the check-in attendant at the airline counter didn’t want to
believe that there was a mistake. Thus, every careful endeavor he’d made to
ensure that he was on time—early even—went up in a huff of waiting for a
supervisor and then another supervisor.
And now finally he was sprinting to
make sure he didn’t miss the plane. Forget being there in time to priority
board, he was going to be lucky to make the plane period. His first time flying
first class—thank you, Space Villager for being such a bestselling game—and
it was off to an inelegant start thanks to a stupid mistake.
Finally, finally, he reached the
last few gates of the terminal. The TV sets scattered throughout the waiting
area were all taking about that huge freak snowstorm heading for the New York
area and whether it might veer south enough to cause snow along the whole
Eastern Seaboard. Josiah shook his head, trying to not get sucked in to the TV.
As long as he got to Germany on time, it wasn’t going to affect him and he
needed to stay focused on—
“Last call for Flight 324 nonstop
service to Washington Dulles International,” the loudspeaker blared.
“I’m here, I’m here,” he panted as
the gate attendant set the red phone back on its hook. He held out his ticket.
The woman was around his mother’s age with very red lipstick and very short
blond hair and a spectacular frown just for him.
“Ah. Mr. Simmons.” She looked up
after scanning his tickets, decidedly less frosty once she saw his first-class
seat number. “Come with me, I’m going to have to walk you down.” She spoke into
a walkie-talkie as they headed down the walkway. “We’re going to need to gate
check your bags. I’m so sorry, but the first-class overhead compartments are
“Crap.” She gave him a questioning
look, and Josiah remembered that he was supposed to be Mr. Smooth and
Sophisticated Project Manager, not some whiny kid. “Sorry. That’s fine. Just
let me grab my laptop.” He grabbed the laptop with the longer battery life
before the attendant put a pink gate-check tag on his two bags. “But…uh…fragile.”
She gave him a tight smile, but
added a yellow Fragile tag to his laptop bag. “You’re in Seat 1A,” she said,
handing him his ticket back. “You’ll get your bags back when we land, I
promise. Enjoy your flight.”
After a brief conversation with the
gate attendant, a male flight attendant shut the plane door behind Josiah.
“Welcome aboard,” he said to Josiah in a tone that clearly meant, “thank you
for pushing back our departure.” In fact, the plane was rolling away from the
gate before Josiah almost tumbled into the empty aisle seat of the first row.
“You made it.” A warm chuckle eased
past the pounding of Josiah’s heart.
“Wha—what?” he whipped his head over
to the window seat—a farther distance than one might expect. The first-class
seats were huge padded affairs and there was a thick console dividing the
seats. And…hello, most gorgeous guy Josiah had ever seen.
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.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you.
I just meant I was beginning to think I’d get the row all to myself.” The guy’s
voice was possibly even more attractive than his model-worthy face, deep and
soothing, with an undercurrent of the sort of confidence that never failed to
make Josiah shiver.
And he was all Josiah’s for the next
Well, except for the part where he
seemed ready to take a nap and tune Josiah out—the guy had a pillow behind his
head and a blanket on his lap. He yawned, revealing gleaming teeth worthy of a
“You’re not a model, are you?” As
usual, Josiah’s tongue leaped into action before his brain could restrain it.
“What? No, not a model.” The guy
laughed, more of that smoky chuckle that did things to Josiah’s insides.
“TV star? Athlete? Because it seems
like I should know you from somewhere, and I don’t want to get to DC and people
be like, hey, you were next to that Laker the whole flight…” He trailed off
because his friends were right that he had absolutely no filter, and that was
triple true around Muppet-flail-worthy hot guys.
“Nope, not famous.” The guy studied
Josiah for a long moment, considering, the sort of are-you-for-real expression
on his face that Josiah was well used to. Seeming to come to some sort of
decision, the guy stuck his right arm across the console. “Lieutenant Ryan
Orson, US Navy.”
“Pleased to meet you.” Josiah
accepted the handshake. Navy made sense given the Navy-emblazoned
T-shirt stretched tight over the guy’s aircraft-carrier-wide chest. Holy crap,
the guy was big. Josiah was a skinny 6’2” with big hands and feet that always
got in the way. But this guy’s hand made Josiah’s feel downright dainty. “I’m
Josiah, Josiah Simmons.”
“Well, Josiah, want to know a
secret?” Ryan asked in a conspiratorial whisper.
“Sure.” Josiah was down with
whatever secrets this guy wanted to share.
“Not only am I not famous, I’m not
even supposed to be in first class.”
“Nope.” Ryan winked at Josiah. He
had a very disarming wink, all good humor and twinkly eyes.
“The check-in clerk bumped me into
“You got the nice clerk.” Josiah was
still a bit grumbly over the name hassle.
“She lost a brother over in
Afghanistan.” There was a subtle hint of “grow up” in Ryan’s tone. Josiah
straightened, remembering again who he was supposed to be. And here was this
impossibly attractive guy to practice on. Sure, he might be Josiah the clueless
geek back home, but here he was Josiah the new project manager. This Josiah
knew the right way to act and speak and could impress even tough audiences.
“That’s so sad for her.” Josiah
tried for sophisticated empathy, something he knew he kind of sucked at.
“Yeah, it is.” Something
indecipherable passed over Ryan’s face, his eyes getting darker and cloudier
and that wide smile flagging a bit. “Anyway, guess she saw…the Navy connection
and had a spare seat to bump me into.”
“What do you do? In the Navy I
The guy went silent, considering,
and Josiah was afraid he’d been too nosy again, but right when he was about to
apologize, Ryan finally spoke. “I’m a SEAL. I do a little bit of everything,
but mainly I make things go boom. You?”
“Oh my God, you’re Special Forces.
Do I ever have questions for you!” Josiah babbled again, only slowing down as
Ryan’s easy smile morphed into grim line. “Sorry. I’m just excited because I’m
a video game designer. And special ops is our new expansion pack.” And it
happened to be the one Josiah was in charge of.
“You program games?” Ryan blinked,
and Josiah wasn’t sure what he’d expected Josiah to do, but this clearly wasn’t
it. “Anything I’ve heard of?”
Ah. That was it. He assumed Josiah
was some sort of kid programming a dot matrix game in his basement. Josiah knew
he looked too young for his job, because he was too young. At
twenty-three, he was the youngest lead developer on the design team. Thus, he
took no small amount of pride in saying, “Space Villager.”
“Oh wow, really?” There was a new
note of respect in Ryan’s voice. “I love that game, especially the pod racer
and first-person shooter expansion packs.” There was a hint of Texas or
something else Southern in his voice, and Josiah could listen to him all day.
“Yeah? Well you’re going to love our
special ops expansion pack even more.” Josiah projected far more confidence
than he actually felt. He could make this project a success. He had to. The PR
team had already hinted that the next expansion pack would revolve around
special ops activities on a small war-torn planet, so Josiah didn’t worry too
much about sharing this much with Ryan.
“I bet. My ex got me to back the
crowdfunding drive, and I’ve been hooked ever since. My buddies were already
teasing me about how much time I spent gaming, but there’s something
particularly addictive about your game.”
Your game. Josiah liked the sound of that. He only knew a handful of
women who played Space Villager, but the ones who did tended to be rabid
fans. It was possible he might even know Ryan’s ex by her user handle, but
Josiah had just enough self-control to not ask.
“Prepare for takeoff,” the pilot
intoned over the PA. This was the part Josiah hated, the acceleration and
stomach-dropping ascent. Today he hated it even more, knowing they might catch
the edge of that storm. Focusing on turbulence that was probably hours away
wasn’t logical, but then, Josiah’s brain seldom was.
“You always so antsy or are you a
nervous flyer?” Ryan asked.
Oh crap. Guess he wasn’t doing such a bang-up job projecting the aura
of a with-it project manager. He laughed nervously. “Both?”
“I promise we’re going to be okay.”
Ryan gave him a quick friendly pat on the knee.
Oh. Josiah’s eyes went wide. Ryan was missing part of the pinky
finger on his left hand and had some wicked scarring further up his forearm.
Josiah tried not to stare, but knew he failed miserably.
“Mission gone wrong,” Ryan said
gruffly. “Now back to flying, millions of people fly every day. It’s safer than
car travel.” His tone made it clear further discussion of his hand was not on
“I know flying’s safe. Knowing
that’s not the same as believing it.”
Ryan’s answering laugh seemed to
strip some of the tension from his face. “How well do I know that attitude. My
ex got nervous before every flight, and his buddies used to razz him about it
Man, two ex references in five
minutes. Ryan must be totally hung up on his ex…wait. “His buddies”…What the
“Your ex is a guy?”
“Yup.” Ryan’s smirk said he’d pegged
Josiah ten minutes ago, probably when Josiah couldn’t peel his eyes away from
those tasty biceps.
“Cool.” He was grinning, but he
couldn’t make his facial muscles behave. Hot damn. Gorgeous, muscled,
single, gamer, and gay. He ticked every last one of Josiah’s “perfect man”
boxes. And if the gods were kind at all, Josiah could keep it together long
enough to make a lasting impression.
Carina Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Itunes | Kobo Books
Meet the Author
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children. Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency
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You would think that this story being about Josiah, that it'd be light and goofy, kind of like you think is in the other books, but not certainly wasn't.
Under his fun nature and no filter he has his own issues. He suffers from severe ADHD, so he need help with managing parts of his life, Luke money management and meds schedules. He likes to use the excuse that his mom is lonely in that big house, but he needs her just as much. He's never had to confront that issue until he meets Ryan.
They're meeting went normal, at first They met in first class on an airplane. All was good until Josiah notices Ryan's "disability" and his not brain to mouth filter goes off...again. Only this time he really feels bad about it and tries apologizing and a bit of groveling.
A snow storm hits where they're supposed to land, so it leaves them a night until they can get flights out the next day.
This time together grows into future emails and chats and gaming together, eventually skyping and another face to face visit to Ryan at the rehab center.
Ryan is trying to hard to recover, he just wants to get back to work and be "useful" . Josiah is leading his own team and is having issues keeping everyone on schedule. They continue to confide in each other and feel comfortable doing it, but things are still rocky.
I really think these books have a common theme, a trip (be it air or road) and a party, (be it wedding/reception or reunion). While I think they're great stories, I kind of hope the next one (if there is one) has a little more ... diversity? A change in format? Shake things up a bit and keep the series fresh... and I'm thinking a certain red head and military man are up next???
Anyways, it was a great story, I laughed and cried and rooted for these guys and I really hope there's more!