It’s a nerdy romance with board games and the mention of roller derby.
Mel Roberts is new to San Francisco and doesn’t know anyone except her new roommate Roxie. Her ex-boyfriend from Philly is having trouble dealing with their break-up and she hates her new job.
Roxie is the co-owner of a local board game café alongside her two best friends. The business is doing well, but Roxie’s personal life is in a shambles. Her mother is an addict, and she hasn’t dated in a while because of a manipulative ex.
Roxie promises to show Mel around and the two form a fast friendship, but could there be a chance for romance too?
Pros And My Favourite Parts
McIntyre took on some difficult themes in this novel and did a great job of exploring some really complex relationships. The cast of characters is so varied and they all have their own struggles happening with someone in their lives.
While I wouldn’t class this book as new adult, it certainly speaks to the kinds of themes you might see in those kinds of books. There is a lot of growth for the characters as they figure out what’s important to them and how to stick up for themselves.
Also, anything with a mention of board games or Dungeons & Dragons is going to get my attention immediately.
Cons And Heads Up
For me, I would have personally liked to see just a little more roller derby. This features in the first line of the blurb and I was mildly disappointed that there were only one or two scenes that delved into the roller derby side of Mel’s personality.
I had a few difficulties with the writing style. Occasionally, there would be something that pulled me out of the narrative. For me, this was a minor thing, and I was easily able to get back into the story.
A final heads up, there is quite a bit of swearing in this book. I grew up in Australia and we’re frankly known for our tendency towards swearing, so this didn’t bother me in the slightest. If it does bother you, this might not be the book for you.
This book made my nerdy little heart very happy. There’s a real sense of found family to the relationships in the novel. If that’s your kind of thing, this book is worth a read.
Excerpt from Strength Check by Katherine McIntyre
Roxie tugged off her hoodie and flung it to the floor beside her bag. She swigged another sip of the mango IPA and let out a sigh before she cracked open the fridge and peered inside. Dinner was a thing she needed to figure out.
Days like these, that hollow thump she tried to ignore grew stronger than ever. She’d resigned herself to singlehood, but goddamn, sometimes the longing threatened to tug her under. The idea of having someone to come home made her ache like a fresh bruise.
The doorbell rang, a shrill bzzzzt that had her rolling to her tiptoes like she’d bolt. Belmont raced toward the door, stopped, stared at her, and then scampered off in the opposite direction. Roxie glanced at her hoodie feet away on the floor and down to the weathered Empire Strikes Back shirt she wore. Not worth reaching down to slip that back on. Exhaustion stretched her like stale gum.
Roxie headed for the door, hoping the visitor was anyone but her mother.
She cracked the door open.
A hot-as-sin redhead who looked to be about her age stood in front of her. The woman couldn’t be more than an inch over five feet, but her gaze burned with intensity that screamed “don’t fuck with me.” With a skintight tank top and jeans ensemble placing those sinuous curves on full display, Roxie couldn’t help but linger. Flame hair fell in cascades down her shoulders, and when she offered a smile, all the formidableness melted with the way she lit the room. Damn.
Roxie shut her jaw, slipping a lock of hair behind her ear before she responded. “Hey, can I help you?” Her worn T-shirt stood out like a neon sign. She should’ve gotten changed, maybe washed her hair, or leapt into a vat of bleach—anything but her status quo.
The woman thrust her hand out to shake. “I’m Melody Roberts, though you can call me Mel. Pleased to meet you.”
Roxie stared at her for a second, the name not registering. The woman stared at her like she was supposed to be here.
“You’re here about the room for rent, aren’t you?” Roxie said, wanting to smack herself in the head. After searching for weeks, she’d settled on an applicant who passed the credit check, had a decent job, and via email seemed like she wouldn’t snort coke in the bathroom. The one she’d invited over tonight to get situated. “I’m Roxanne Esposito. Please, forgive me for being so rude.”
Mel’s brows drew together. “Did I mess up the date and time or something?” The dim amber lights of her foyer placed her freckles on clear display, like those details didn’t make her more adorable. God, she needed to stop staring like a creeper.
Roxie ran a hand through her hair. “You got the date and time right, I’m just a moron. I swear, I’m normally not this absentminded. Come on in and I’ll show you around the place.” Guess she didn’t need the hoodie with the way embarrassment cloaked her right now. Her cheeks reddened.
“Thank fuck,” Mel responded, stepping past her into the house. “I’m not going to lie, I’m super anxious, and this rental was a lifesaver, so I didn’t want to screw anything up. My job had me flipping my life upside down in a matter of weeks.”
The scent of black tea and berries wafted Roxie’s way, and she couldn’t help the way her heart started pumping faster. She needed to get out or get laid more—this woman would be renting a room from her, not sharing her bed.
Though her bed had been empty for far too long.
“Where are you from?” Roxie asked, heading over to the fridge. “Can I offer you a beer? Coffee?”
“East Coast, around Philly area,” Mel said, walking in stride with her. “And I would kill for a coffee.”
The brisk accent made sense now. So close, she couldn’t help but notice the height difference between them or the woman’s petite features, from her button nose to her rounded shoulders.
Even though she’d been seconds from passing out on the couch before, her body woke up like she’d chugged a five-hour energy shot. Roxie tugged at the hem of her shirt, hoping it didn’t ride up to expose her too-wide hips.
“Right, let me get some coffee prepped so I don’t end up a human sacrifice,” she said, offering a grin in Mel’s direction. The woman’s eyes crinkled with her smile, the friendliness like overdosing on sunshine.
“I’ll spare you,” Mel responded with an impish grin, “for now.”
Get It Online
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Dungeons and Dating
Wisdom Check (not LesFic)
Bits and Bobs
AISN number: B097NVDKGZ
Publisher: Indie Author
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