Updated: Jan 18, 2021
by Lorelei Parker
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation
In life, as in gaming, there's a way around every obstacle . . .
To pitch her new role-playing game at a European conference, developer Sierra Reid needs to overcome her terror of public speaking. What better practice than competing in a local bar's diary slam, regaling an audience with old journal entries about her completely humiliating college crush on gorgeous Tristan Spencer? Until the moderator says, "Next up, Tristan Spencer . . ." Sierra is mortified, but Tristan is flattered. Caught up in memories of her decade-old obsession as they reconnect, Sierra tries to dismiss her growing qualms about him. But it's not so easy to ignore her deepening friendship with Alfie, the cute, supportive bar owner. She and Alfie were college classmates too, and little by little, Sierra is starting to wonder if she's been focusing her moves on the wrong target all along, misreading every player's motivations. Maybe the only winning strategy is to start playing by her heart . . .
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy Rom-Com Feel Good
Crushing It is definitely an all around, feel good, romantic comedy. The story was actually ... kind of original, which is a breath of fresh air in the romance genre. All the video game references were awesome. The story was great. My only two problems plot wise, was that I didn't truly get into it until 40% into the book, which is way too long in my opinion, and it was predictable. Once I did get to a point where I was invested in the story (specifically when our main protagonist started to develop feelings for Alfie), I couldn't put it down. Even though I knew what revelations we would get in the last few chapters, I wanted to know how they resolved it.
The characters in this book are very down to earth, and relatable, in my opinion. Sierra is a successful video game programmer, who has a lot of passion for her field. She is scarred from an embarrassing moment in her life, when a prank is played on her during a presentation, and now she has a crippling fear of public speaking, which gets in the way of her presenting her own game at Gamescon. In order to get over her fear, her best friend enrolls her in a contest at a local bar, that requires you to get on stage and read an embarrassing journal entry from your diary. This is where she meets our two potential love interests: her biggest crush in college, Tristan, and Alfie, who had the biggest crush on her in college. Both men complete opposites of one another. It's quick to see who is the perfect one for her. Alfie is probably on my most adorkable character list. Very easy to fall for.
Crushing It, while predictable and the set up is more drawn out than I like, was a super cute, quick read. It's a book that makes you reflect on change. How people change as they grow up, and how they don't. Makes you think about consequences to particular actions. All the while using fun video game references that will make the geek in your smile.
Crushing It comes out on June 30th, 2020.
Top 3 Favorite Moments
Alfie's journal entry of Sierra seeing him
Alfie walking Sierra home
Alfie and Sierra discovering they are each others Mario Kart rivals
Alfie visiting Sierra's yoga class
Their first kiss
Alfie running all the way to Sierra's house in the middle of the night because she wished he was there
Sierra and Alfie's dancing, and the hot sex up against the wall
Sierra telling Tristan that she is part-owner of the company
Sierra and Alfie telling each other they loved one another
Sierra getting to present her game
Where to Buy:
Reynold: "Thank you, Sierra. That was ..."
Reynold: "That was not great."
Alfie: "She was right about the concentration of potential friends. I've never been more immersed, and yet somehow, once again I've become invisible. I wonder if Ms. Maxwell reads these journals. I ought to pay her for the free therapy. I don't usually speak this many words. Why speak when people don't hear me?" I've grown used to the solitude, and honestly, I prefer my own company to bad company. I never disappoint myself."
A smile crossed Alfie's face
Alfie: "But today, I saw a girl, and I thought she saw me. She has a certain style, like she moves in another dimension, and I thought, maybe she's different enough she might see the world I inhabit. I walked toward her, though walking isn't exactly the right verb. It was like being drawn by a magnet. I was mesmerized by her spirit. I approached her to introduce myself, but she stumbled. I bent to help her up, and she glanced at me Her eyes held infinite depths of perception, and I thought she saw into my soul. I thought we'd formed a connection. I opened my mouth to say hi, but then she looked away. I picked up her notebook and handed it to her, catching her attention for another fleeting moment as she stood and hesitated. In that moment, I could have said anything. I wish I'd just said hi. But she turned to take a seat, and she didn't see me, so I didn't speak, and she didn't hear me. I resolved to try another day."
Bryce: "My mom caught me masturbating today."
My drink sprayed from my lips, and I frantically snatched up a napkin to blot up the liquid dribbling down my chin onto my dress.
Bryce: "It was my fault. I hadn't locked the door and she walked in. The look on her face will haunt me until I'm in my grace. When I'm older, this will be the day I will tell my therapist about. And I did. I told all of them."
Sierra: "I'm still sorry, and I wish I would have said hello."
His smile returned
Alfie: "You thought I was mad?"
Sierra: "Yeah. And I couldn't stand making you mad because - "
He tilted his head, looking both amused and confused.
Sierra: "Well. Because I think you might be the nicest person I've ever met."
Alfie: "Oh. The nicest, eh. Not the prettiest?"
I snorted at his reference to my journal from the week before
Sierra: "You want to be the prettiest?"
Alfie: "Just kidding."
Sierra: "There's nothing pretty about you, Alfie."
He double blinked.
Alfie: "Okay. That was honest."
Sierra: "Well, maybe your eyes."
Alfie: "My eyes? I guess I'll take it."
Sierra: "Nope. Alfie, you're not pretty at all. You're not pretty. You're gorgeous."
Alfie: " 'So what's your real name, anyway?' I could say anything, but I don't want to be a fiction to her. 'Alfie,' I say, and I wait for her to cringe. But she tilts her head, considering, and her smile grows ever so slowly, like she's testing out a new flavor and has decided she likes it.
'I like Alfie. You should keep it.'
'Why?' I ask.
'It's sweet, like you. It makes me feel like I could trust you.'"
Sierra: "So. Earlier when you mentioned you'd considered taking the name Parzival ..."
Alfie: "Yeah. Funny you should mention that."
Sierra: "Why? Is it because that's your use name when you play Mario Kart?"
His eyes widened
Alfie: "Have you seen me online?"
I gestured to the screen that showed my profile.
Sierra: "I'm Asuna."
He leaned in closed, a breath away
Alfie: "I'm using tilt control."
I burst out laughing. It was the stupidest of all the possible phrases available, and one I'd never had a reason to use.
Sierra: "Go easy on me."
Alfie: "I'm a little nervous."
Sierra: "Don't be. You wanna play?"
Alfie: "Hell, yeah.:
He shook his head, laughing.
Alfie: "Asuna. Wow. My racing rival in the flesh."
Sierra: "What were you going to say before Aida came down?"
Alfie: "Oh. I was thinking about what you said earlier tonight."
Alfie: "When you said I should have told that girl I liked her."
Alfie: "And I do."
A blush crept up the side of his cheek, and he turned to go.
Alfie: "What's wrong?"
I shook my head
Sierra: "Nothing. Just. You have beautiful eyes."
Sierra: "I always wanted blue eyes."
Alfie: "I hear that a lot. But it's not something I can control, so I'm not sure why it's that big a deal. You never hear anyone gush over how cute my elbows are."
Sierra: "You have cute elbows."
Alfie: "Have you noticed my neck?"
Sierra: "You have a very pretty neck."
Alfie: "At last, she thinks I'm pretty."
I rolled my eyes.
Sierra: "I told you. You're better than pretty."
Alfie: "You think I'm an extrovert?"
Sierra: "You like being around people."
Alfie: "I thought I would. It's why I wanted to make this contest a continuing event. I though maybe if I got some regulars, I'd start to make friends."
Sierra: "Is it working?"
Alfie: "I'm, here with you, aren't I?"
Alfie: "What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?"
Sierra: "Right now? Go to Germany to present our demo."
Alfie: "So, what's stopping you?"
Sierra: "Reynold. And my own brain."
Alfie: "I have confidence you'll make it happen."
Sierra: "What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?"
Alfie: "I guess I set myself up for that."
I nudged his foot with mine
Alfie: "If I knew I couldn't fail?"
He scooted closer
Alfie: "I'd kiss you."
I leaned closer
Sierra: "I have confidence you'll make it happen."
I placed my hand on his cheek where I'd been wanting to feel his skin, so soft. He closed his eyes, and I traced my finger down to his chin.
Sierra: "What's stopping you?"
Alfie: "I guess it still feels like I'm invisible."
I slipped my hand into his
Sierra: "I admit I got caught up in the idea of Tristan, but I only want to be right here. Next to you."
I touched his cheek
Sierra: "I see you, Alfie Jordan."
Alfie: "I have always seen you, Sierra Reid."
When I woke up around two, I flipped on my Mario Kart to find Alfie racing. I was no longer satisfied talking via the presets, so I FaceTimed him.
When he answered, I said
Sierra: "Go easy on me."
Alfie: "You're kidding. You've been crushing me."
Sierra: "I've been crushing on you. I wish you were here."
Alfie: "I want to spend time with you and get to know you, okay?"
Sierra: "You'r nothing like what I expected. And I want to know you, too, but it this a wait until marriage thing?"
Alfie: "No. Not at all."
He laughed with an adorable wince.
Alfie: "Maybe I want to see where we stand after we've survived our first fight. What happen when you're no longer charmed by the newness of me? When I do something to piss you off? I just want to trust each other first. You deserve that. I don't even know your favorite color."
Sierra: "My favorite color's blue. My favorite Zelda game is Majora's Mask. I prefer autumn to spring."
He fell back farther into his chair, eyes closed.
Alfie: "Keep going."
Sierra: "I thought you were cute the first night I saw you at the bar a couple of weeks ago, and you're the first boy I've ever known who made me feel calm instead of anxious."
Sierra: "Can I touch you now?"
He sighed, but not in exasperation, more like in anticipation.
Alfie: "Touch me where?"
I placed my finger on the side of his neck at the opening of his collar.
Sierra: "Right here. You have a beautiful neck, Alfie."
Dragging my fingernail along his skin, I teased his collarbone, and he let his head fall to the side
Alfie: "That feels nice."
Sierra: "Yes. You do."
I looked into his eyes.
Sierra: "Would you kiss me at least?"
We both leaned in and he gently pressed his lips to mine.
Zane: "Damn. That was an autopsy."
Bryce: "You can stop murdering the boy. He's already dead."
Aida: "Just ready for this demon to be out of me. Sorry, I mean, this beautiful, blessed demon. Who we love very much."
Sierra: "I'm worried I fucked everything up long ago, when I didn't even know ... when I hadn't figured out who I was or what I wanted. Who I needed."
His eyes widened
Alfie: "Who you needed?"
Sierra: "Who I need. I don't know what I was thinking that night. I can't begin to fathom why I even liked Tristan when you were right there. I was missing out on an amazing person. But I can see that now. Alfie, I am so sorry."
More than once in my life, I'd let Tristan's flashy good looks distract me from Alfie's more subtle light. Tristan was like the sun blotting out the north star that was Alfie. But the north star was constant, and the sun would always set.
Sierra: "You're so cute after I've had my way with you."
Aida: "Wook at how pwecious him is."
I looked at Marco
Sierra: "What have they done with Aida?"
She glared at me
Aida: "Shut up."
Sierra: "There she is."
Sierra: "Good job, you two. You did it."
Marco: "Aida did it."
Marco fell into a chair and yawned
Marco: "At least the hard part's over."
We all turned and stared at him, like he was crazy if he though life had just gotten easier, but his eyes closed and his breathing evened out. So we let him sleep, knowing full well it might be the last chance he got for a long time.
Sierra: "Can we skip the dancing?"
Alfie: "What? You don't like dancing?"
Sierra: "Think about it. If you and I get on a dance floor, our bodies will be pressed together. My hands will slide up around your neck. I'll sway against you, and my dress will begin to rise -"
Alfie: "And we'll end up in the hallway, copulating like moneys in heat, with no regard for anyone passing by?"
Sierra: "In the hallway? I'd have my legs wrapped around you in the center of the dance floor."
He slowed and laid his forehead against the wall, beside my ear.
Alfie: "Never in my life."
He'd done all the work, but for some reason, I was panting.
Alfie: "There once was a boy with a bar
Who picked a girl up in a car
They kissed in the park
Now guess who's a rock star?"
As soon as he'd disappeared around the corner, I climbed the steps, and a sigh transformed into a sob. Then I began to ugly cry.
Aida: "That's how I feel whenever I see Tristan, too."
I laughed through my blubbering.
Sierra: "I'm going to the contest."
She sat up.
Aida: "Okay. I'm putting Marco on alert that he'll be on his own tonight. I need to get out of this house, anyway. I'll totally be there for you."
Sierra: "But I'm going to lose."
Aida: "Say what now?"
Sierra: "I won't get any votes for what I intend to say."
Aida: "So why are you doing it?"
Sierra: "Because there's a bigger prize."
Sierra: "You didn't just tell me who you are; you showed me. You are patient and kind. You don't envy or boast, nor are you proud of self-seeking. You're not easily angered, and you keep no record of wrongs. You always trust, always hope, always persevere. You are love, Alfie.
I'm sorry I let a ten-year-old wound re-open and shake the foundation we were building. We'd barely begun to find our footing. I never told you I loved you. You never told me you loved me. But all that time, I was falling in love. Seven different ways. Because, Alfie, I see you, and I may not deserve you, but you are worth everything.
I know I'm sacrificing my spot in the contest by baring my soul instead of sharing some funny anecdote, but you know what? For the first time since I've stood up here, I'm not embarrassed or ashamed of a word I'm saying.
Alfie, I don't know if you'll ever forgive me for reacting for poorly, but know that I will regret it for the rest of my life if I broke the only relationship that will ever matter to me.
I love you Alfie Jordan.
Yes, we can talk."
Sierra: "Can you forgive me?"
Alfie: "Forgive you? Are you saying you forgive me?"
Sierra: "All I wanted to tell you is that I've been an idiot for the past week, and I'm sorry. Everything else I thought I wanted was wrong. If I lost everything else but won you back, I'd be complete."
Alfie: "Win me back? Did you think you could ever lose me?"
Sierra: "You troglodyte narcissistic sexist caveman asshole. You are so entitled to believe you could step up to that microphone and win automatically because ... why? Because you were born with passing good looks and average h eight? You think everyone else gets ahead by cheating or by taking a shortcut, and you bitterly believe that when your privilege is put in question it's because someone else is taking something from you. I thought maybe you'd changed since college, but I don't think you've had one introspective moment in your entire life that didn't lead to you believing your own self-written press. You tried to use me to get a job! And you know what's funny about that? You never bothered to find out that I founded the company you want to work at. Yes, me! I am part owner, and while I don't hire people, I can sure as fuck fire them."
Sierra: "And you're right. I didn't need to win the money. You and Zane can duke it out. I got more out of this contest than I came for. I only hope I haven't lost what matters."
As if to answer that question, Alfie laid a hand on my shoulder
Sierra: "Can we get out of here now? I have things to say to you."
Alfie: "I'd like that."
Sierra: "Vote for Zane!"
Sierra: "Oh, Alfie. I love you. You've become like my best friend in such a short time."
I laughed as his face dropped at the moniker.
Sierra: "Yes, my friend. And my lover. My soul mate. I love how you've learned to love yourself. I love how you've taught me to love myself."
He ran a thumb along my cheek, and I realized a tear had loosed itself. I didn't know when or why I'd started crying. Happiness? Maybe relief?
Alfie: "Well, this is quote convenient since i fell in love with you a long time ago."
The power of those words broke something loose in my spirit, and I sobbed.
Sierra: "How would you have been in love with me? You barely know me."
Alfie: "I know you, Sierra. I knew it wasn't real love at first. Just a fascination with a girl who intrigued me. When you came into my bar, I felt that spark again. I can't believe how lucky I am that you saw me."
Sierra: "I see you, Alfie. I will always see you."
Alfie: "Do you realize we just had our first real fight?"
Sierra: "And I'm still here. Does that mean we get to have sex now?"
His eyes widened
Alfie: "That reminds me! I have something for you."
I waggled my eyebrows.
Sierra: "Is that a euphemism?"
Alfie: "Come with me."
Sierra: "That's still sex talk."
Sierra: "This is too much, Alfie."
Alfie: "I was afraid you'd say that, but I was so worried you'd drop out of the contest because of me, and then you might be rattled when you presented to Reynold, and I couldn't stand the thought of you losing out on the trip when it was all you wanted, and you've worked so hard. You deserve to go."
Sierra: "Thank you. I love you for doing this. I love you for making my dream come true. I love you, Alfie. But you're wrong."
His eyebrows knit together
Alfie: "I am?"
Sierra: "Yes. Because all I want is you."
I hugged him, and his arms wrapped around my back. He kissed my cheek and whispered
Alfie: "Did you say you love me?"
Sierra: "Many times?"
Alfie: "Say it again."
I shoved him onto the bed.
Sierra: "I love you, Alfie."
Alfie: "You wanna go take a dog for a walk?"
I leaned back against his solid chest
Sierra: "Take it easy on me, Parzival."
His laughter tickled my neck
Alfie: "I'll get you next time."
Sierra: "You've already got me."
As it turned out, I'd never completely overlooked him. I'd only been playing the wrong game, focusing on my rivals, and neglecting to take inventory. Everything I'd ever wanted had been right here since level one. All I had to do was uncover the treasures hidden in plain sight.
Alfie: "Do you know what you call a group of gamers?"
Sierra: "A gaggle of geeks?"
Alfie: "Nope. A herd of nerds."
Alfie: "When we get home, why don't you move in with me?"
Alfie: "Let's make it official. You'd still be close to Aida and Marco, but you all need your own space. I want you with me. Every night. I want to wake up with my arms wrapped around you. I want to come home at night to find you tangled in my sheets. Move in."
Sierra: "What if we don't work out?" He leaned his forehead against mine.
Alfie: "We're going to work out."
Sierra: "What if we don't?"
Alfie: "That would be a problem whether or not you moved in, right?"
Sierra: "But it would be more complicated."
Alfie: "It's always complicated. But I don't want to spend another night alone. Move in."
I squeezed his hands
Sierra: "Lets do it."
Alfie: "I love you."