Book Review – Beer and Groping in Las Vegas by Angela Quarles
When I come across someone whose tagline is Geek Girl Romance Writer, well, you can see why I’d be interested, right? *Looks up at Title of Blog*
Angela Quarles is a proud Browncoat and namedrops Ada Lovelace. Right there I know her geek credentials are in order. And when I read the blurb for her book Beer and Groping in Las Vegas, I knew I had to check it out.
Can a djinn and a magic slot machine bring two geeks together?
Riley McGregor is a geek trapped in a Good Ole Boy body and as owner of a microbrewery, smart chicks never look at him twice.
Rejected by a geek who wanted to “trade up,” Mirjam Linna would rather immerse herself in work than be the girlfriend-of-the-moment. Stranded in a Vegas hotel, she makes a wish—a night of hot sex with the man of her dreams. It’s granted. She agrees to dinner, but afterward, she’ll say thanks, but no thanks, and see what’s on the SyFy channel. But when they meet, they’re surprised to find they had a shared connection in their past. Sparks fly as these two learn to be in the moment, be themselves and find love.
Fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Monty Python, Firefly and Marvin the Martian will enjoy this romantic comedy.
I point out that this is a very short story. I make mention of this because after some consideration, I’m pretty sure all of the problems I have with this story circle back to that short length and the author needing to fit the story into a small wordcount.
You know how you’ll be reading and a character will do something or say something and it makes you cringe, and you’ll think to yourself, “No way. No one does that. I’m willing to do a little suspension of disbelief, but this is pushing it.” Then you realize, the character had to make those very awkward, out-of-character, no-one-does-that choices, because if they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a story! That’s the vibe I got at the beginning. The downside of this, of course, is instead of a fully realized character you are left with a 2D rendering. It makes it hard to get invested into the story.
Next problem is it takes awhile for the hero and heroine to meet. Even as quickly as the author tries to get through the set-up, it’s a decent percentage of the story, which leaves less time for us to get to know our happy couple AS a couple, which lessens the sexual tension and the happy, squishy feelings – both of which are vital when reading a romance story.
Finally, while I very much appreciated the geek touches of the story (Guest appearance by George Takei!) and I ‘got’ the humor, once again it was an aspect that broke the romantic/sexual tension of the H/h. Now, this is fine in a longer story where we can ride those hills and valleys of love/lust and indeed, it ends up making it a better story. But for a story of this short length, it wasn’t hills and valleys as much as rollercoaster whiplash, and it meant I wasn’t invested in this couple and really couldn’t care less what happened to them – not the feeling you want at the end of a romance.
Now, the good points, because I don’t want to leave on a total downer, and indeed, I don’t think this author deserves that. I do think the author can write well. I enjoy the humor immensely, and in a longer story with a better balance between romance and humor, I see her killing it. And I do think with a couple stories under her belt, she’s going to settle into a very unique voice that will nicely combine geeky elements with romance, which is a very welcome development to those of us with the same nerdy leanings.
Bottom line – The length is what ultimately hurt this story. The (necessary) set-up kept the H/h apart for too long for such a short story, so they had no time to show the chemistry that really makes a romance work. There are geek references galore to make all of us nerdy-at-heart do imaginary leaps of delight, and enough humorous situations so you’ll have a smile on your face a few times while reading, but in the end it’s not enough to overcome the book’s romantic weaknesses. My Final Grade? C-
You can find Angela Quarles at her website, on twitter, her blog, and on facebook.