Loved that these characters were older and nerdy! The writing was super easy to get into and romance adorable.
I enjoyed watching this unconventional love story play out. Maggie's kid is so sweet, and I loved their relationship. Aiden deserved so much better, his mother and family in general was THE WORST!! Maggie and Aiden were so great for each other, and I loved that they showed that we still have growth at any age.
This romance book was a bit different than I am used too with romance books. It wasn't bad but it wasn't exciting. It was a cute romance read with older characters finding their self and romance with each other. It's a bit harder for them but they are willing to risk it outside of their comfort zones.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book, as this book has already been published, I will not share my review on Netgalley at this time.
This is such a good book! I am tired of reading romances about people who are barely adults and it was refreshing to find one about people who have lived a little. This was charming and fun and I'm glad to have found a new author I love. More!!!
I loved everything about #RolePlaying by @cathyyardley. It was refreshing to have characters in my age range who face and have experienced the joys and tragedies of life. Maggie is wonderful. She speaks her mind and takes no prisoners. Aiden is a wonderful guy who doesn't realise how deeply his people pleasing tendency is ingrained. I don't want to give away too much away by telling you all my favorite parts but I will recommend it to anyone who likes romance, gaming, strong FMC's and a cuddly MMC.
I was tempted to start this review by doing one of those “there are two types of people” kind of things, but those always leave some people out. Also, in this particular case, there are four types of people, introverts, extroverts, ambiverts and omniverts.
This is very much a story about introverts, as both Maggie and Aiden are both clearly on the far end of the introvert side of the introvert vs. extrovert teeter-totter. Maggie, in fact, may be just a bit too far over, as she realizes that she hasn’t been outside in days and has run out of absolutely every food in her pantry and will be forced to rely on condiments if she doesn’t go to the local small town gossip factory that passes for a grocery store.
For anyone wondering why not just get food delivered, well, food delivery is something that Maggie misses – a lot – by having moved to tiny Fool’s Falls in eastern Washington State. She’s so far out of town that even the local pizza place doesn’t deliver.
Maggie is a freelance editor, so she doesn’t need to go TO a job to HAVE a job. She’d rather socialize online anyway, which is why she’s still very much an online gamer at 48. She’s also suffering – really, really hard – from empty nest syndrome as her son, and fellow introvert – has just started college at the University of Washington in Seattle.
But she’s right about the grocery store being town gossip central, and she’s equally right about being accosted the minute she steps in by one of the local, means so very well but isn’t listening, obvious, oblivious, obligate extroverts who is determined that Maggie get out of her house and won’t take no for an answer.
Won’t even hear ‘no’ as an answer.
Which is where Role Playing takes off, as Maggie finds herself stuck in the role of introvert at a party of extroverts who all focus on her. One thing leads to another – not necessarily bad things, just frustrating things from Maggie’s point of view – leading to the lovely heartwarming answer to a question that hasn’t been asked but should be: how do introverts find each other as they retreat to their homes to escape a world full of loud, intrusive extroverts who are just sure that their way is best.
The answer is delightful from beginning to end, and all the more so because Maggie and Aiden – or rather Bogwitch and Otter – are not your typical 20somethings finding true love. Instead, it’s a story about two grown ups who have given up on finding someone who will ‘get’ them EXACTLY as they are, and who will love them not in spite of their introversion, or even because of it, but because together they fit in a way that neither ever expected to find.
And it makes for the best kind of romance, between two people who have accepted who they are in themselves and have finally found ‘their’ person in spite of all the meddlers and extroverts trying to get in their way.
Escape Rating A: I picked this book out of the virtually towering TBR pile for two reasons. One, I loved the author’s Fandom Hearts series with its combination of romance and geeky fun. And two, because it’s a reality in my house, particularly this month when there are long weekends and time off built in, that the two introverts who live here are going to be spending a LOT of time playing video games. Because that’s part of what brought us together, too.
So, I fell hard for this book because I felt hard for both Maggie and Aiden, but especially for Maggie. I really got her, both in the whole sense of how easy it is to get lost in your own little world when your job lets you avoid the big world outside – even if it’s lonely. AND her combination of extreme annoyance and absolute cringing when confronted with determined extroverts – because they are all determined and they are all wrong but convinced that they are right.
(Obviously I’m venting my own feelings here, but hers were just SO REAL and felt SO TRUE. Also, I’m also still a gamer, and a bit older than Maggie, so people’s reactions to that part of her persona felt equally spot on.)
I digress, but hopefully in a germane way.
And then there’s Aiden, who is caught up in a bunch of really, really HARD adult dilemmas, with no good outlet for the stress except, of course in this context, gaming. (I understand so completely that there are nights when pixels just need to die that I can’t even…)
Both Maggie and Aiden are in some very hard places, but they are also very grown up places. Maggie needs to make a life that works for her by herself now that her son is in college. Which is going to mean changes – and that she’ll have to find ‘her people’ somehow because Kit’s presence in the house kept the social isolation at bay for both of them.
Aiden has also been in a holding pattern as he came home to tiny Fool’s Falls to take care of his dying father. But his father has been dead for a year and Aiden is left in a place he never wanted to come back to, dealing with his grief-stricken mother who is determined to blame Aiden for never being the son his parents wanted him to be in spite of his very real success.
His mental health requires his departure, but his mother still needs him even if she seems to hate everything he is and does. (If you’ve ever read any 9-1-1 fanfic, Aiden’s mother is toxic in the same way that Eddie’s mother is. I digress again, but geeky references are part of the fun of this story)
Maggie and Aiden find each other through the gaming that everyone in their lives thinks they should have given up years ago. Quite possibly because it’s a symbol of the fact that they are both determined to live THEIR OWN lives and not FOR anyone else.
Obviously, I had a ball with Role Playing, to the point that I’m a bit chagrined that I missed it when it came out back in July , but am oh-so-glad I rediscovered it now thanks to Book Riot’s Best Books of 2023. I sincerely hope the author gives us some more grown-up but still geeky romances to fall in love with, but in the meantime I’m going back to see where I left off with Fandom Hearts the next time I need to put a little more heart in my reading!
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Review based on final copy. All opinions are my own.
I picked up an ARC of Role Playing prepub, and unfortunately it’s one of the books that feel by the wayside, but given how many people I follow in romance circles that have praised it since (and having enjoyed another Cathy Yardley title), I was determined to check it out before the end of the year.
Aiden and Maggie are both compelling characters, dealing with very realistic struggles. I really resonated with Aiden coming to the realization about his bisexuality and asexuality, given how it’s impacted his previous romantic relationships, including the one with his former fiance, who’s now with his brother. The intense homophobia various family members subject him to, especially his mother, was ridiculous, and I’m so glad he was able to finally establish boundaries, with Maggie’s support.
Maggie herself is also interesting, and I resonate with her experience with social anxiety (and love her solution to getting more social interaction through gaming). There’s also some frank discussions about her identity as a half-Asian woman, and how her son, being only one-quarter Asian, can “pass.”
I really like how both of the protagonists are older (late forties/early fifties), and dealing with being at a crossroads in their lives, whether it be Maggie watching her son leave for college and facing life as an empty-nester, or Aiden having recently retired. And it’s fun how the story plays with our assumptions about age, behavior, and what’s “appropriate” for a person “of a certain age” to be interested in by its very premise, with their mutual wrong assumptions about the other’s age based on how they present themselves in the game.
The romance was great, although I guess I’ve been so conditioned by the current state of modern romance with emphasis on hookup culture, I did not expect this to actually be a slow-burn, even with the older characters. So, while I did find the pacing a little off at first, I actually ended up enjoying seeing these characters get to know each other platonically before considering anything romantic. And given Aiden’s asexuality, it actually ended up working in the long run, making me feel more invested in them as characters and as a couple.
I absolutely adored this book, and it absolutely deserves the hype it’s gotten and more. If you’re looking for a relatively lighthearted slow-burn contemporary friends-to-lovers romance about older characters, I’d recommend checking this one out!
I don’t think this book was for me. I wasn’t interested in the storyline or the couple. I really wanted to like it because I love the gamer character, but I just didn’t. DNF @ 46%. Would give Cathy’s work another shot though!
I loved reading this geeky, contemporary romance! Maggie and Aiden were absolutely wonderful together. The way they connected through their love of online video games was really wholesome. I have never read a romance where both the characters were in their 50s, so this was a really refreshing read! <3
This steamy beautiful book was everything. I adored everything about it and I guarantee that you will love it.
I didn’t know what to expect from a romance book with MCs in their 50s. But this book was such a delight. I absolutely adored Maggie as a FMC - she was everything - fiery, grumpy, mama bear, giving zero cares, confident even while dealing with social anxiety. I basically want to be her when I grow up.
And Maggie was perfect for big ole teddy bear Aiden. He had quite the journey of self discovery and every chapter had me falling more in love with these characters.
There’s definitely family drama, some of the side characters made me so angry, but at the end of the day this story was one that might end up in my top five for the year. I loved it that much.
Thank you to NetGalley for the eARC! I also added this lovely book to my physical collection!
Role Playing was a really fun middle age (there IS life after 40!!!) rom com with confused identity, friends to lovers and single bed tropes all rolled into one. Video game setting books seem to be an ongoing these for me on the back half of the year and Maggie and Aiden's Blood Saga built relationship did not disappoint me at all. Both characters were unique and moveable, the LGBTQIA+ elements and acceptance by found family really made this book top notch for me. Aiden grew so much from the start to the finish and watching that was lovely - both self realization and influenced changes from Maggie's tough take no shit attitude. Definitely am becoming a Cathy Yardley and I'm looking forward to the next one I get to read!
Overall I really enjoyed this book - even tho the main characters are a lot older than me I still found them relatable and liked the journey we went on with them
The first 30% or so I found a bit slow - it was mostly just setting the scene and there wasn't much interaction between the two main characters
However the story quickly picked up after that and I really enjoyed the friendship/relationship growing between the characters
I really enjoyed the discussion around sexuality and figuring it out even later in life and not having to have it all worked out when you're young
- 3rd person / duel pov
- secret identity
- lgbt rep
Stunning sexy and gorgeous this book was a blast to read. I loved following the journey of the two main characters as they fell in love. Super fun!
I have enjoyed a number of Cathy Yardley's romance and when I heard her upcoming one features older MCs (48 and 50) I rushed to request the ARC.
While I enjoyed the book overall it didn't quite meet my expectations (I admit they were rather high to begin with).
I felt she tried to bring way too many elements in one story and ultimately it loss focus and felt scattered. There is the gaming stuff and being a woman in online gaming communities, the small town gossipy element, the failed marriage/bad relationship element, the sexual identity drama and coming out, the toxic family and elderly parents who need care but refuse to accept it. It was just too much.
I have to come to realise I very much prefer more character focused romances with strong internal conflict, rather than busy ones with too much external stuff going one. At least, here it seemed to me there was not enough room for character and relationship development.
I did like the hero, a cinnamon roll, sweet and caring but one who let too many people walk all over him. We have a prickly heroine who is adjusting to life after her son left for college. She is very antisocial and while I can relate to her struggles with making new friends as an adult, she didn't really read 48yo to me. Her actions reminded me more a teenager’s rebellion phase, being contrary just for the sake of it.
There is a coming out story with the hero which read which did not read fully organic to the story/character but I am no position to judge it properly.
I didn’t like the reconciliation attempt with her husband and ultimately feel her son did not do right by her. We also get stereotypical villains / not so nice characters and I just hate that. I want the portrayal of the bad guys to have just as much nuance as the portrayal of the good guys.
I am going back to my initial point of there being too many plot points which made them feel underdeveloped and not really convincing to me. There is so much more to explore about in order to give them substance.
Overall, while this is not my favourite book by Cathy Yardley, I still want to read more books by her.
CW: toxic family/ex, queerphobia (challenged), injury, public outing, caring for elderly parents
Unfortunately this one just didn’t click for me. The pacing was very slow and awkward, it made it hard to connect with the characters with the exception maybe if Maggie who just wanted to be left alone with her hobbies. I think the representation was nice and handled well but the abhorrent side characters just ruined everything for me. I do think more representation and older romance is a good idea, just maybe faster paced and less mean.
I was really excited about this book because it had things many aspects that were intriguing. Maggie and Aiden didn't want to date, but they became friends while playing a game online. It was such a unique book and I really wanted to like it but there were parts that just didn't click with me.
Thanks to netgalley for the early arc in exchange for a review
Thank you to Montlake for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The file expired before I could finish reading. The first half of this novel (what I did read) was great. I will be picking up a copy and finishing it in the future. When I do, I will update my review here. Highly recommend for all the nerds out there! It was great to read a story about an older couple who loves video games and aren't perfect. I'm excited to see what happens in the latter half of the novel in the near future.
4 stars mostly because I want to be Maggie when I grow up!
I dream of the day I can be confident enough to go toe to toe with old white racist homophobes at a wedding.
This was so cute and I loved the fact that the characters were older. While this wasn't a book that I could see myself in the characters, but as a story on its own, this was well done! If you are a gamer, or want to see a romance between two introverts that are doing everything in their power to not be social, this is the book for you!