I haven’t had a chance to read one of Ms Mitchell’s books before, but I’ve seen several of her books reviewed and loved by other readers. When I got a copy of Levelling Up, I figured I’d give it a try – it looked like a second chance, workplace, age gap, ice queen, gamer romance. Seriously, so many tropes that I’m a big fan of, how could I go wrong?
This is a pretty straightforward romance where Clarke, a young and talented gaming animator reconnects with her first boss when she finds out her ex has stolen proprietary game development and sold it under false pretenses to another company. In forestalling the impending scandal and lawsuits, Clarke re-enters the orbit of Fran Silvetti, cold as ice and tough as nails CEO of Haboob Software. Unbeknownst to either, each of the women has been nursing what they felt was an unrequited attraction to the other. Brought back together, the relationship neither thought was possible six years ago begins. Things start physical and slowly, as the story progresses, expand as they find their footing with each other and how it impacts their lives.
Unfortunately, this was not the book for me. The novel is written in present tense, which I admit is not my favourite and that may be one of the reasons I had such a hard time getting through it. The pacing seemed slow for me as the relationship developed without a lot of outside obstacles or action and at times I wanted to shout at one or both of them to “get on with it” or “use your freaking words”. I found it difficult to connect with either character and their relationship. At times I really didn’t like Fran, there was a very odd power dynamic and she seemed to want to shape Clarke. The scene at the restaurant on Clarke’s birthday made me particularly uncomfortable where Fran became predatory and possessive and Clarke seemed to be treated like a trophy or a child.
All in all, this one was a miss for me.