Review & Excerpt: One More Round by Lauren Helms

Posted May 23rd 2018 by The Faerie Queen in Blog Tours, Excerpts, Giveaways, Reviews / 0 Comments

Review & Excerpt: One More Round by Lauren Helms

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One More Round

Review & Excerpt: One More Round by Lauren HelmsAuthor: Lauren Helms
Series: Gamer Boy #2
Also in this series: Level Me Up (Gamer Boy, #1)
Release date: May 24th 2018
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Barclay Publicity

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Star rating:
Heat rating: three-flames

Simon has doubts, and Gia has secrets—will they be able to let go of the past that hurt them both or will history repeat itself?

Gia is living the dream with an amazing career and wonderful friends. Her life is on the right track, until a tall, broody blast-from-the-past breezes back into her life, sending her into a tailspin. She never forgot about Simon—her first love—or the way she cut him from her life all those years ago. Now, she doesn’t know what to do.

Simon never forgot the girl next door, or how she broke his heart when she left without even a goodbye. Thankfully, life as a professional gamer keeps his mind off his broken heart. That is, until he suddenly finds himself back in her path. Now he’s pushing her boundaries and testing her limits.

Simon and Gia have to find a way to coexist. They started as friends, and maybe it’s time to go back to the beginning. Only, this time around, being ‘just friends’ doesn’t seem to be enough. Simon has doubts, and Gia has secrets. Will they be able to let go of the past that hurt them both or will history repeat itself?

** This book can be read and understood as a standalone, but does contain minor spoilers for Level Me Up, book one in the series. **

Trigger warnings: Panic attacks, bipolar disorder
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The Faerie Queen’s review

You may remember I listened to the first book in the Gamer Boy series, Level Me Up, last year. I called it a sweet romance, though on the tamer side for New Adult romances. I also said it nicely laid the groundwork for more books in the series, and I was right! As I hoped at the time, this second book focuses on Morgan’s friend Gia and Dex’s teammate Simon, who just so happen to know each other already. Gia has a secret, which only Simon happens to know, and it’s coming for her.

The first quarter of the book was a bit awkward. There was some recapping of the previous book in terms of some of the plot, but not a lot about the characters themselves, so it took me a while to remember who everyone was and what the dynamics were. The blurb of this book says reading the first book isn’t necessary, but I think it would help. I’m sure Simon, for a start, was physically described in the first book, but he’s only really described in terms of clothing and “manliness” in this one, so I honestly have no idea how to picture him in my head (and I refuse to use the cover model as a guide because he looks far too old for 25).

But almost exactly at the 25% mark on my Kindle, things started getting interesting. The iciness between Gia and Simon started to really melt there, and the heat between them took over. One More Round definitely upped the heat levels from Level Me Up, and the chemistry between these two was actually stronger than the bubblegum romance between Morgan and Dex. That being said, while there were some more interesting sexy scenes in this book, it was never all that graphic. Lauren is one to watch for those of you who like your romances on the cleaner side!

A big worry for me pretty early on was the inclusion of mental health issues. Gia has general anxiety with the occasional panic attacks. This was all good, and actually welcome. I loved how Simon could so easily spot the signs of a panic attack and made an effort to help Gia calm down, even when he was upset. He put her first, and it was heartwarming. But that’s not the big mental health thing. Someone else in Gia’s past has bipolar disorder, and this person is effectively a villain for a big part of the book, which is really sad. I mean, I know that this does happen, and I understand that mental illnesses are fun for the people suffering or the people around them. I also know how cruel people can be, both with and without mental illnesses. Luckily, there is some resolution to this issue, some sign of things improving in the end, which allowed me to relax on this front while reading.

The writing in this one was a bit stilted, especially with frequently shifting verb tenses. I listened to the audio of the first, so I can’t directly compare the two, but it’s entirely possible that this is just the author’s style and the narration simply smoothed things over for me a bit. Alternatively, I did read an ARC, so maybe this will be ironed out before publication? We’ll see. But yeah, I think this is a case of a promising author who is still working on her craft.

Once I got over the first 25%, I was really engaged in this romance. It wasn’t too angsty, with friendship and humour and plenty of sexiness to balance out the heavy bits. I look forward to the next book – obviously about Link and Ruby, duh – and seeing Lauren Helms grow as an author!

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Excerpt

“I think it’s Morgan’s turn. Let’s get started without her. Go ahead and list Pee-Wee Herman and Bart Simpson as two of the guys she’s gonna marry.” Ruby says excitedly.

“And why are we playing this again? Are we going to make those paper fortune tellers next?” Morgan asks as she plops down beside me on the couch.

“Oh, I love those,” I add.

“We are playing this because watching movies and playing video games are all we ever do these days. I thought some margaritas and MASH would be fun.” Ruby defends.

“Fair enough. But might I point out, that you are the only one really playing video games in your downtime? It doesn’t count for Bern since that’s what she does for a living. So…,” Morgan trails off as she goes back to reading her texts.

She’s right though. Video games have been thrown into our lives ever since Dex came along. He is a professional video gamer, so our little group – Morgan, Ruby, and I – has kind of been taken into Dex’s group. Well, more like his team. He’s on a team with several other players, Bernie being one of them so, video games are now a very prevalent fixture in our lives.

I don’t mind. I used to love playing video games when I was younger. But, I stopped playing them the day my family uprooted our lives and moved to a new state. I pretty much left my life, and those in it, back in Wisconsin. A shiver shoots down my spine at the thought of that mess.

Along with Dex, my best friend from my old life, Simon, came crashing back into my new life. I hadn’t thought about Simon in years. Mostly because I taught myself years ago not to. It hurt too much. But now, he’s here. He’s always around. Things are awkward. I mean, like he-hates-me awkward. I can feel it. I can see it in his face. I’d say I could see it in his eyes, but he’d have to make eye contact with me first.

Redirecting my thoughts, I realize that I’m being watched intently by Ruby. She’s on to me. These days, I feel like she is always watching me, waiting for the perfect moment to ask me about Simon. I have this gut feeling that she, and probably Link, have been plotting and planning on how they are going to figure out what the hell is going on with Simon and me.

I’ve done a swell job of keeping the real history of Simon and Gia at bay. I’ve told them the basics. He was my friend, we had to move abruptly for family reasons, and we lost touch. The girls questioned how that would have caused the iciness Simon saves for just me, and I let on that we may have been more than just friends and I had let the communication between us drop.

It’s the truth. More or less.

Fortunately, they’ve been so consumed with why after months of coldness between us, they haven’t asked why we had to move. I consider that another bullet dodged. For the moment. Simon is the only one who knows why. He knows everything, and I’ve just got to hope that he will keep it to himself because if he doesn’t people are gonna find out I’m really not the cool, easy-going, caring Gia everyone thinks I am.

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About Lauren Helms

Author Lauren Helms has been an avid reader from a young age. After starting a book review site, that launched her fully into the book world, she decided to take the plunge and write her first novel. Since she was working for a video game strategy guide publisher at the time, she decided to mix what she knew best, video games and romance. Jumping all in, she joined NaNoWrimo and a month later had a 50K word first draft. Lauren lives in Indianapolis, IN with her video game playing husband, two little girl book nerds, and a little boy who will hopefully be a gamer boy too some day!

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