At Any Price
by Brenna Aubrey
Published by Silver Griffon Associates
Book 1 in Gaming the System Series
Achievement Unlocked: Geek Virgin
When Mia Strong, proud geek-girl and popular gaming blogger, auctions off her virginity online, she knows she'll make waves. But what she will not be making is a love connection. Her rules are set in stone: One night. No further contact.
It's a desperate step, but it's the only way she can go to medical school and pay her mother's mounting hospital bills.
Difficulty Level: Millionaire CEO
Adam Drake, the enigmatic auction winner, is a software prodigy who made his first million at seventeen. Now, in his mid-twenties, he's sexy, driven and--as CEO of his own gaming company--he's used to making the rules. Before Mia knows what's happening, he's found the loophole in the rules of her auction. Every stipulation she's made to protect her heart gets tossed by the wayside.
She can't tell if he's playing her...or if he's playing for keeps.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy Romance Frustrating
*TRIGGER WARNING: Conversations/Memories of a sexual assault
At Any Price by Brenna Aubrey is the first book in her Gaming the System series. This first book centers around Mia Strong, a popular gaming blogger, who is in need of some money. She gets the idea of auctioning off her virginity - with strict rules. One night only. No contact afterwards. She just wants to get rid of that pesky virginity, and skip her way to med school. It seems so simple, until she meets the winner of her auction: Adam Drake, millionaire CEO, and creator of one of the world's most popular games - including her favorite online RPG. There is instant attraction between them. Adam didn't get to where he is in life on looks, and he quickly finds a loophole in Mia's contract. But can work away around Mia's walls and win the ultimate prize - her heart?
At Any Price left me feeling lukewarm. Not because of the writing style, or an overwhelming dislike of any characters. Not because the romance was meh. Brenna's writing style is good. The plot was interesting enough that it kept me intrigued. There was chemistry between Mia and Adam, and Brenna can write sexual tension, and actual sex, wonderfully. Seriously. Chef's Kiss. No "aching buds" here, but she actually uses the word clitoris, so huge props. I think what frustrated me, was exactly what I was supposed to be frustrated by, which was the characters, while well written for the most part, have some serious communication issues. Many times I was left annoyed, because if either of them would open up, we would all get our happy ending (and probably 100 pages sooner). I was also a touch bummed out that the book is incredibly predictable. I called everything within the first few chapters, so there was not a whole lot of mystery for me
The characters were likeable. I certainly wasn't swooning over either of them, which is painful for me to say, because I do love a "geek". Hell, I married one. :) They were both frustrating at many times throughout the book. I do like that neither of them are perfect. Mia is intelligent and determined, but she has a lot of walls put up to protect herself from getting hurt. Her past with men is a very difficult one, so its understandable. By the end, she seems willing to open herself up to the possibility of more, but it ended in such a way, that she could easily go into her shell again. And I have a love/hate relationship with Adam. I love the reasons why he did what he did, but I think a little honesty would have went a long way ... especially when he realized he wasn't going to be able to just walk away.
At Any Price is a good romance if you like oddball love matches, with lots of hot sexual tension, and great sex written in. And drama. Let's not forget the drama.
Adam getting Mia when in that situation with Jon
Adam and Mia playing lovey dovey when Lindsay came up to them in the restaurant
Adam and Mia watching LOTR
Adam coming to the ranch to see Mia
Mia finally giving in to her feelings
Adam: "Oh, our encounters will be all that and more."
Mia: "It's one night, Mr. Drake. That 'encounters' should have a parentheses around the s."
His look could only be interpreted as smug.
Adam: "Encounters ... no parentheses necessary."
Mia: "Cancer is a bitch that needs to get the crap smacked out of it. I intend to stand on the front lines with a big-ass bat."
Mia: "Oh God."
Adam: "I'm good but I'm not that good."
Adam: "I can wait, Emilia. You're worth waiting for."
Adam: "Bingo. Found it."
And all I could do was laugh. He'd tracked down the elusive g-spot.
Adam: "They should give out merit badges for that."
I gasped when the finger moved again.
Mia: "I'll give you a fucking gold medal if you want, just don't stop."
DJ: "Why'd you bring a girl? You never bring girls."
Adam: "I'm sorry? Did you forget your cootie spray?"
Jon: "What are you, her fuckin' boyfriend? She doesn't like men, you know."
Adam: "She likes men just fine. Maybe she doesn't like you because you're an asshole."
Adam: "I came up with the story concept and the game architecture. I didn't design the women's clothes."
Mia: "But you had final approval. Why not throw the poor things in something that will cover their bare midriffs? How would that armor even help them, anyway?"
Adam: "I bow to the overwhelming research provided by my marketing people and the gave devs who push the issue constantly. Were it up to me, those poor elf maidens would be covered from head to toe."
Adam: "Look at the mess you've made, naughty girl."
My lips found his and we kissed, long and languorously.
Mia: "I might need to be punished later."
Adam: "Yes, you might."
Mia: "You'll hate yourself if you do this."
Adam: 'I'll hate myself more if I don't."
Adam: "Tell me what you want. Exactly what you want."
Mia: "I want your cock. I want it inside of me."
Adam: "And then what?"
Mia: "I want you to slide it in and out until I come."
Adam: "Ask me nicely."
Mia: "Fuck me."
Adam: "Nicely, Emilia."
Mia: "Fuck me, please."
Adam: "I don't think I'll ever get enough of you."
Adam: "I told you - I never intended for it to go so far. But -"
Mia: "But what?"
Adam: "But I lost control. I couldn't help it. I'm not proud of that fact. But whatever this is between us got a lot bigger than me very quickly. I couldn't stop thinking about you from one time to the next and I kept telling myself that I'd cut things off the next time and the next time never came because every time i was with you I discovered I wanted you more. And not just in my bed, Emilia, though that part was driving me crazy."
I stopped pacing, my arms folding in front of my chest. I listened to him but could not look at him.
Mia: "I wanted more and I've never wanted that from any other woman ever. I wanted to spend all night watching movies with you or taunting you with irrelevant hints about the game or arguing over which versions of the first Star Wars trilogy is better or having you taunt me about how my taste in music is exactly like your mothers. Every minute I spent with you made me want a hundred minutes more."
I extricated my gaze from his. My eyes stung and emotions threatened to bubble up from my chest. I couldn't catch my breath. He moved to stand in front of me and, slowly, carefully, he placed his hands on my shoulders.
Adam: "I'm going to say something right now that I know if going to scare the shit out of you because it scares the shit out of me. But I have to say it."
Mia: "Please, don't."
He closed his eyes, clearly disappointed. When he spoke, his voice was shaky.
Adam: "I love you, Emilia. I love you so goddamned much that I can't breathe when I don't know where you are or how you are doing. This last month has been torture. I wonder if its possible to have room in my heart for anything but these feelings."
Mia: "Fuck you, Adam Drake. I never asked for you to come into my life and arrange things. I never needed you to save me!"
Adam: "No. Probably you didn't. But I sure needed you to save me."
Mom: "Growing up is a scary thing. I think I know why he came up here and I think I know what decision you are scared of making. And the only thing I can tell you is that the decision is yours and yours alone to make. But consider me. I've been alone for a long time by choice and I'd rather you found someone who makes you happy. Mia, if you love him, don't choose to be alone."
Check out the rest of the Gaming the System Series below