Member Reviews


i liked this but also i didn't 🤨😔 they were old (48(h) and 50(H)) and yet they weren't acting like that... everybody was treating both mc's like shit H's family and h's ex husband were worst people on the world

and i know this was a slow burn but they met irl so late like it was %38 or something and i didn't feel the chemistry 😭

hero and heroine were cute but that's all. i already forgot about half of the book and it took me months to read😔

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To be completely honest, I took a chance on this book almost solely because of the absolutely stunning cover, because it looks so cosy and it made me love the characters immediately. It turns out the cover matches the book really well though, and I really enjoyed this book.

In the romances I read, the characters are usually in their 20s, or sometimes in their 30s. I loved reading about these people finding love a little later in life, and it always gives some much-needed perspective that not even people in their 40s or 50s have everything figured out. I loved how they found each other over a hobby (gaming) that people usually expect younger people to have, because it's important to play and find joy at any age.

I also just really liked both of the main characters. They felt well fleshed out and interesting, and seemed like people I would really like in real life.

I also didn't expect this book to have queer rep! The male MC is bi/pan and figures out he's demisexual in the course of the story, which was lovely to see. I do want to warn people that there is a lot of queerphobia towards him, especially from his mother and his ex. This was all handled well imo, but it was a lot, so it's good to be aware of it up front.

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“I think you look beautiful,” he said, with a little half smile. “Then again—I always thought you were beautiful.”

Maggie and Aiden. She’s a grumpy, forty-eight-year-old hermit who’s been divorced for five years. He’s a single, fifty-year-old cinnamon roll that’s been taking care of his aging mother. They both love video games and instantly developed a virtual friendship through an online gaming guild, but don’t know each other’s real identity. She thinks he’s a college student, and he thinks she’s a grandma. As their friendship progress from online to IRL, they agreed that love and dating is something that they’re both not interested in until they’ve learn more about each other.

- dual POV
- she’s grumpy, he’s a cinnamon roll
- slow burn
- online friends to lovers
- middle-aged gamers: 48 & 50
- healthy communication
- witty banter
- You’ve Got Mail
- classic movies and anime
- small town
- LGBTQ+ rep: bisexual, demisexual

cw: divorce, death of loved one, family drama, toxic family, social anxiety, cheating (past), biphobia, manipulation

Thank you to @cathyyardley for the gifted copy! Role Playing is available on April 25, 2023!

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I was drawn to this book mainly by the premise. I started a relationship due to online roleplaying and interactions, so I thought it would be fun to see this in the context of a romance novel. I previously had felt very middle-of-the-road about Cathy Yardley's prior book, Love, Comment, Subscribe. I thought giving her a second chance was good, mainly because of how good the premise was.

I do think that this book will work very well for a lot of audiences. The cover will draw people in– it's absolutely phenomenal– and the silly antics of the two main characters are really enjoyable. I have discovered that Cathy Yardley's writing style is not for me, nor her characterization. All of the characters feel as though they talk similarly, and no character really impresses itself upon me.

Given this, I will not be posting my feelings on Goodreads, mainly because I do believe some people will really like this, and want to keep the reviews mostly positive. I probably will not pick up Cathy Yardley again, but I am hopeful it will find its audience.

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I got through this only be gritting and grinding my teeth and soldering on; and as I have a dentist appointment tomorrow morning (no joke) I'm sure I'll hear all about it. Spoiler alert, it won't be worth it. Also, this rating might be generous.

Sadly, this is a story that worked for me in concept, which is why I requested it, but completely let me down in execution. Not that I had high hopes per se but I'm always keen to read romance featuring older characters. Except.. no one actually treated them according to their age. Not children, or parents, or siblings. So why make them fifty? I can only assume it was for the clicks.

Listen, I'm all for a bit of healthy drama in my fiction but this was drowning in toxicity and thus did I, too, drown. I was so frustrated and uncomfortable and infuriated and yes, you're supposed to be, but it did not make for an enjoyable reading experience. I liked Maggie, she was a spitfire, and I liked Aiden, he was a cinnamon roll. I liked the queer rep. And that's literally it. Every single side character (actually, sorry, Rosita, Maggie's friend, had a tiny starring role via phone call and she was a darling), not to mention most of the event and their associated conflicts, it all gets chucked in the bin.

Most of said horribleness was directed at Aiden by his family, and it was truly horrible (I'm not exaggerating), but Maggie's relationship with her son was also.. strange. I don't know. I'm not middle aged with a grown kid so maybe that's an accurate representation of a modern relationship but.. it was weird. And, again, maybe it was because these characters didn't read like fifty that every other dynamic was made strange by it?

All this being said, even though I read this quite early, I'm definitely in the minority. So maybe this is all just a me thing. I hope so. Because, again, there is a dearth of mid-forties to fifties romances, especially ones where the characters are introverted, socially awkward, and very online, so this definitely will find its audience. I just wish, as someone who checks most of those boxes, it worked for me.

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I was completely sucked in while reading this. It started a bit slow for me, mostly because I had low expectations (I've been having bad luck with cartoon covers). But DAMN. Cathy Yardley is my new hero. She wrote a sexy as hell story about normal people with normal bodies and I am DELIGHTED. It was everything I've been craving, but not getting from standard romance. So much good demi and bi rep too. Wow. Just wow.

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This was very sweet and adorable romance. These main characters were pure entertaining and their story was AHHmazing.

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I liked Role Playing so much! The main characters are only a few years younger than I am, and more of this, please! I am very sad to say that this isn’t out until July 1. You should put it on your Summer TBR, because it is excellent.

Maggie and Aiden’s relationship is inadvertently driven by two mother/son relationships. Maggie makes an effort to be more social as part of a pact with her son, who is a freshman in college. She is worried that he isn’t trying to make friends, so she promises to go do things if he promises to go do things on campus.

Aiden is trying to get his mother to take his concerns about her driving and health seriously, but she refuses to discuss the issues with him unless he brings a woman as a date to a family wedding. This is not a case of an adorable, meddling mom trying to help her son find happiness, this is an angry, bitter woman who wants her son to conform to her ideas of who he should be. Role Playing is very anti-meddling. I approve.

Aiden and Maggie initially become friendly anonymously. when Maggie joins his gaming guild, but he thinks she’s in her 80’s and she thinks he’s a college student. The transition to an analog friendship is a bit rocky. Both have had difficult relationships in the past. Maggie’s experience being married to her ex husband has left her feeling anti-romance, and Aiden’s ex fiancee dumped him and married his brother. Neither has never been truly accepted for who they are.

I have yet to experience an age when I wasn’t questioning and rethinking who I am and what kind of person I want to be. It’s different though at 50 than it is at 30 or 15, and Yardley does a great job of reflecting that. Maggie and Aiden are comfortable with some fundamental parts of themselves, but they still face choices about how to live their lives. Should Maggie lean in to being an anti-social hermit? Should Aiden constantly cut off pieces of his soul to make his family happy?

I thought this was delightful and I’m always in favor of a characters getting the love and acceptance they deserve without conforming to social expectations.

CW: parent deaths off page, queerphobia (challenged), toxic family relationships, hostile public outing, injury.

I received this as an advance reader copy from Montlake and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.

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I am going to be SO annoying about this book, I love it too damn much.

We follow Maggie and Aiden, who live in the same small town but meet when Maggie joins his online gaming guild. The book starts with a slight misunderstanding between the two of them as Maggie assumes that Aiden must be a college student in his early twenties, like her own son, and Aiden deduces that Maggie must be a cool but grumpy older lady since she continues to insist that she could be the mother of all the guild members. I loved the scene where they figure out that they are only two years apart in age and their misunderstandings were honestly understandable, though very funny as the reader.

This is a sloow burn. Our main characters don’t meet in person until about a third into the book, and while Maggie initially does not want a relationship, Aiden needs to come to a couple of realizations before they can really kick off a romance. For me, this pace really worked, considering their backstories and that their ages (48 & 50).

Even if the relationship takes its time to develop we still can clearly see that these two belong with each other. There is something incredibly gentle and reassuring about them, something that allows both of them to be themselves around the other.

There is a point where Aiden realizes something about himself (or more like Maggie gently guides him to it by giving him the right vocabulary and not judgment whatsoever) that hit all the right points. The affirming compassion on Maggie’s part, Aiden feeling immediate relief … I adore this scene.

Other highlights: the women gamer aspect; Maggie nearly jumping over the table in defence of Aiden; the mother-son relationship between Maggie and her son.

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I absolutely love Cathy Yardley but this book now has me obsessed! This story is more than a romance! It’s two people finding their place in the world after years of heartache and set backs!

I love that both characters were older. Both had faced heartache not just from the people they loved but their families, their friends and trusting the world around them was hard. As these two became friends and started to heal their foundation and love became inevitable!

I loved seeing Aiden defend himself and stand up for who he is and Maggie gah she is one fierce woman! Maggie definitely for me stole the show! The way she defends her kiddo and doesn’t back down from what she deserves was just absolutely beautiful!

This was a very fun and enjoyable read! Loved every word!

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Amazing! 10/10⭐️!
I have loved every book I have read so far by Cathy Yardley - but Role Playing was my absolute favorite! I was drawn in from the beginning and connected with Bogwitch (Maggie) immediately. The character development, video game references and plot were all so cohesive and refreshing. Incorporating a perfect level of reality to the story with still being an escape - this was one of the best romances I’ve read in a long time. 🎮

Thank you to NetGalley and Montlake for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

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There was nothing particularly wrong with this book, I just couldn’t get into it sadly. The cover is gorgeous and that’s what drew me to the book initially, I didn’t expect the MCs to be older based on the cover & vibe, not that I mind that but the writing style just wasn’t for me

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Thanks to NetGalley and Montlake for the ARC. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book.
Great story! How refreshing to have adult MCs who know how to have a meaningful conversation. Parts of this were really funny too, especially when they meet for the first time and realize how wrong they were about each other. (no spoilers) The way Aiden's awareness of his sexuality was revealed was lovely, and the way Maggie has his back was awesome. Finally, a book without a "third act breakup." And my favorite line of all: "If you can't handle me in sweatpants, you don't deserve me in stilettos." Highly recommend.

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After becoming an empty nester, extreme introvert Maggie works from home, dreads the grocery store where she could run into anyone she knows, and just in general avoids any social situation like the plague. Her son Kit has inherited her antisocial gene and is having trouble fitting in at college. They make a deal to become more social, so Maggie joins a local online gaming group. She and the group leader click and begin a friendship through texting and online conversation. When Otter (Aiden) breaks his foot, she offers to help him out by bringing soup and helping him shop. But when she finally meets him IRL she's shocked to discover he's her own age and not a 20-year-old college student. He's equally as shocked that she's not his mother's age. The more time they spend together, the closer friends they become, but they've both had bad relationships and are determined not to take it further. But when Maggie realizes her true feelings for Aiden, she's afraid of running their friendship.
I loved this slow-burn friends to lovers romance. Aiden is such a big cuddly teddy bear with a wonderful sunny personality, and feisty Asian Maggie isn't afraid to speak her mind or fight for a friend. These two were so obviously perfect together and I'm glad a little of her feistiness rubbed of on him so he could stand up to his horrible family! The gaming part was fun and unique, especially with this later in life couple.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I have just adored this book so much that I have read this book like 4 times and written this review just as many times because I just don’t know what to say. I loved the characters. I loved the storyline. Yeah I should’ve rewritten this review but JUST READ THIS BOOK. It’s pure joy in every page.

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I am in love with not only the cover of this fantastic love story, but as you can tell, hahaha, I love the story, the characters, EVERYTHING! Thanks, NetGalley and Montlake for the opportunity to read Role Playing. I went blind thinking both characters were in their 20s, but I was wrong, they're gen x. This is amazing! I don't get to read characters like these. The story is sweet, and there's of course slow-burn BUT I didn't care at all, Both MCs are well-developed; Maggie has gone through so much, but she still comes out as the strong, resilient woman she is. While Aiden and his look for finding who he is. The story is marvelous., thank you!

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✨I would battle a raging fever in a historical romance novel for Maggie I love her so much 😤✨

This one was a little slow to start because the main characters don’t meet in person until around 38% and there were a lot of conversations (with each other and their teammates) in their gaming guild that I didn’t really care about. I didn’t mind their conversations but whenever the younger college bros typed I swear my gag reflex kicked in lol.

HOWEVER, once these two met up I was kicking and screaming. He thought she was going to be 80!! and she thought he was 20!! and it was GLORIOUS. They were like messaging is fun but this definitely not going anywhere because a. neither was interested in dating and b. the suspected age differences.

Aiden was a burly lumberjack cinnamon roll and Maggie was a true bogwitch of the best variety. This was truly the main couple against the world romance. They both are there for each other when they need a shoulder to cry on or someone to be quiet with.

It also had my favorite trope of a main character literally going feral defending the honor of the other!!! Bonus points for the defended being totally smitten and turned on and GRATEFUL. Ugh I eat it up every time. Maggie is literally the baddest bogbitch ever. She was like hold my earrings 😩 and he had to stop her from lunging over the table 😌 and then he gave “easy killer” vibes 😤

I also loved how honest and open their communication was. I think Maggie was 48 and Aiden was 50 so it was really fun and (unfortunately) rare to see characters of that age range depicted as the MCs in romance! The conversation around Aiden’s sexuality was just so lovely. After Maggie and him discuss, he’s finally able to have terms for how he expresses his sexuality—he’s bisexual and demisexual. Understanding the terms demi and bi helped Aiden finally have a vocabulary for who he is and I thought that was wonderful!!

**Just to note, there are major content warnings for queerphobia, nonconsensual outing, and disownment by family members. As well as aging parents and those complications (my parents are going through this with their parents and it hit pretty close to home). The hero was a former hospice worker and sometimes details brief memories. Also a toxic ex husband and other toxic past relationships that include getting cheated on.

The above warnings mentioned were pretty rough and the hero particularly goes through a lot of hate regarding his sexuality. Frankly, I hated (at one moment or another or ALL) nearly every character not named Maggie or Aiden. It was hard seeing both characters that I loved so much get so jerked around and shit on. **Spoiler** thank god they eventually moved out of that toxic ass town.

Overall, I ended up really loving this one. It was a total cover buy** and the coziness of Maggie and Aiden together did not disappoint. I was rooting for those two so hard and I’m so happy with the choices they ended up making and how they reacted to some really hard situations. There wasn’t a third act breakup and maturity won kids.

⭐️⭐️⭐️.75/5 🌶️🌶️.5*/5

*With the title Role Playing I did think this would be steamier and it was a bit of a Chekhov’s double entendre? The language was pretty light and vague during the penetration scene. They dry humped for their first time which was pretty hot. It was only the two scenes with a real buzzkill happening after the last scene. And to my dismay the only roleplaying really was in the video games lmao.

**eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are honest and my own.

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DNF. I got several chapters in and found myself not enjoying it. It’s not terrible - in fact I think many would like it but I was bored. Maybe it’s because I’m at least a decade younger than the female main character and I am married.

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I didn't know how desperate I was for the particular mixed rep where you very clearly know they're mixed but they do not once quantify how Asian that makes them. they just ARE. they are mixed but they are NOT fractionally as Asian.

Thank you Cathy Yardley for ROLE PLAYING.

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This book spoke to me on so many levels, but it especially appealed to my inner game geek. I only hope I am still as into games as I currently am, when I get to Maggie's age, although I suspect I will be, as they are a part of me.

And all the ingame chat, and talk of raiding guilds, boss runs, loot, and roles such as tanks and healers is all such familiar language to me and reminded me of my own time raiding while playing a massive MMORPG for a few years that I was addicted to.

Thus I could completely understand and empathise with Maggie wanting to not necessarily be an obvious female gamer, and I loved how she dealt with the youngsters in the guild.

And Aiden is just lovely, he grew on me big time, he is struggling with his family and it turns out a whole lot more too. Both are adamant they have no interest at all in dating generally and given they grew to be friends initially online, without having any idea who the other really is, the eventual meeting was gold!

Neither Aiden or Maggie are overly social beings, much to the confusion to just about everyone in their small town, and many humorous attempts to "make them more normal" were things that the two leads could have done without.

I loved seeing how they connected both online and in real life and was hooked on finding out just what would happen. I couldn't get enough of this book, and I'm surprised I've never encountered this authors wonderful writing before. Something I will clearly need to change in the future, if these are the sorts of books she writes.

Utterly fabulous, loved every second of it.

Thank you to Montlake and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

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