Dewey Belong Together, an all-new enemies to lovers small-town romance from Ann Whynot, is available now in Kindle Unlimited!
My Take: (ARC Review)
First of all, I’m always always always a fan of mental health talk in romance, it’s something that’s too often overlooked when so many people are living with it. Romance should be for everyone, and everyone should be represented. There’s a lot of mental health realness which I really appreciate.
I also really enjoyed the gaming-centric plot, it’s great representation for the online gamers out there and a good look into the sexism female gamers face. I love the idea of two people meeting in the game chat and falling in love. It was a unique plot, at least one I haven’t personally read before. I’m not a gamer so can’t speak to the accuracy but it was enjoyable to read about, I never felt like I didn’t know what was going on even though I know nothing about that world.
Unfortunately, the rest of the book and the entire romance just didn’t work for me.
The premise of the book is a bunch of gamers have an in person guild meet up but everyone cancels with the exception of Wrath and Maximus, whom everyone assumes is a man. Understandably, Wrath is shocked to learn that Max is actually a woman. He’s fallen in love with Max through the game, though he didn’t think he was gay, he was willing to take a chance all for the person whom he believes he loves (love the pansexual rep!)
However, within the first few chapters, he called her a chick, mousy, and little lady. I can forgive a lot but he’s just plain rude and a bit sexist.
Max thinks of Wrath as her nemesis and his poor behavior supports that. In order to get Max’s attention, he has harassed, bullied, and sabotaged Max for the last decade. This is supposed to be the gamer equivalent of a little boy tugging on a little girl’s pigtail on the playground, but when it comes down to it, harassment is harassment no matter the intention.
When they meet and she realizes Wrath is hot, she starts to soften towards him almost immediately. He has targeted her for a full decade, ten full years, and her willingness to overlook that because he’s cute and smells good. That just did not sit right with me since he really did nothing to apologize or make up for it at the point. It felt very insta-love, but not in a romantic way. There was no build, no emotional tug, no electric chemistry, just close proximity.
The reasons behind his bad behavior are eventually explained, and while I appreciate the effort, no amount of explanation makes his behavior acceptable when we’re talking a full decade of harassment. She accepts his explanations pretty easily and starts thinking maybe she did like him and his attention all along, which just felt like gaslighting to me.
There’s also an icky questionable consent moment at a party, and an overall general unease that this is a toxic relationship.
I really wanted to love this one due to the great premise but it just didn’t feel right to me.
Librarian Maxine Peters lives her life behind the scenes. By day, she’s a buttoned-up cataloguing whiz in the basement of the Green Valley Public Library. By night, she’s secretly dominating in an online role playing game as the legendary Maximus_Damage. Her in-game persona has the skills to back up the hype. But every hero has an enemy; every saga, a villain. And by her own invitation, Maximus’ arch nemesis, Wrath, has just landed in Green Valley.
Jonathan Owen is not at all who Maxine expects when she meets Wrath face to face. Eager to leave the past in the game, Jonathan takes this golden opportunity to win Maxine’s heart. There’s just one wrench in that plan: he may have, on a few occasions, acted like a bit of a jerk online. And to his puzzlement, she has taken their fun rivalry to the level of epic dislike.
When Jonathan and Maxine are unexpectedly alone for a weekend, secrets are revealed that make love hard and hatred even harder. Jonathan quickly learns fighting his own demons will take more than one elite gamer. And Maxine, who is busy rebooting her life in Green Valley, might not be up to the task.
When real life starts to override the game, can Maxine and Jonathan find a way to make it work? Or will it be game over for this player versus player adventure?
Dewey Belong Together’ is a full-length contemporary romance and can be read as a standalone. Book #7 in the Green Valley Library series, Green Valley Chronicles, Penny Reid Book Universe.
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After the group sang and twanged through a ton of damn fine bluegrass, the crowd began to thin a bit, and the banjo player declared the quartet was retiring for the evening. Max grabbed my arm and gracelessly hauled me through the audience toward the banjo player.
Our arms still linked, and with a megawatt smile on her face, she shouted, “Cletus! That was incredible tonight.”
“It was, man. You’ve got a great sound,” I offered.
Cletus looked from Max, to our joined arms, again at me, and then back at Max. I didn’t want to engage in stereotypical jealous guy behavior, but I did want to sniff out who this Cletus was to her. What had he done to earn her smiles and respect?
“Thank you,” he replied, then looked pointedly behind us. “Maxine, you seem to have misplaced the rest of your guests from your game. I suspect you noticed this, which is why you’re hanging onto this one so tightly.”
“Oh!” Max said in surprise and dropped my arm like it was a hot potato. I instantly disliked Cletus. “All the others couldn’t make it. Just him. Cletus, meet Wrath—er, Jonathan Owen from Florida. Jonathan, this is my friend Cletus Winston.”
Not one to let my manners fail me when needed, I stuck out my hand and Cletus gave it a firm shake. “Jonathan Owen, would you happen to be the same gentleman who enjoys harrying Maxine at every available turn?”
I spun to face Maxine. “You told people that about me? What else did you say, that I like to hunt people for sport?” I felt my face redden in embarrassment as I recalled the time I had also besmirched her good name to the other guild officers. I wasn’t sure what to do with the information that she was talking unfavorably about me to her friends. I felt like every time we made some progress and I got to show her more of who I really was, something popped up to remind me of her animosity.
“Wrath, calm down. Of course not. I was telling Cletus about the game, that’s all.”
“Oh, I see. That’s all,” I said sarcastically.
“It would seem to me,” Cletus said, inserting himself into our fight, “that you two need to have a tête-à-tête, but allow me to suggest not tonight. We’re fixing to take things back to my brother’s place up on Bandit Lake. Scarlet and Billy will be there singing, and I’ll have my banjo and a dulcimer. If you can sit in your own stew for the rest of the evening, you can imbibe and listen to more fine music.”
And with that, he packed up his banjo and gave Max a little salute as he left the room.
“So, feel like hitting up a party?” Max asked, almost cautiously.
I thought about it. I was mad as hell that not only did Max hate me, she had told her offline friends I was some kind of dastardly character. That being said, I didn’t want to piss her off by saying no when she probably wanted to go. Plan Seduction would suggest that I be pliable to her wishes, even if I thought she was a jerk at the moment. I hoped that this wasn’t some big rager we were headed to because being the only sober person at a party is about as much fun as watching paint dry, only the wall sometimes vomits and tries to get into your pants.
“Fine,” I answered. “Party it is, princess.” I couldn’t help poking the bear, just a little. Her eyes flashed fire, and I smiled, gesturing with my arm that she should lead the way.
About Ann Whynot
Ann Whynot has been writing stories since she was five, and always dreamed of one day being a published author. She is a voracious reader and book collector, and used book stores are her kryptonite. She also is passionate about video games, crafting, baking, laughing, and travel.
She lives with her family, dog, and two cats on the Canadian east coast, and is inspired by both the forest and sea.
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