Conventionally Yours Review

Title: Conventionally Yours
Author: Annabeth Albert
Published:
June 2020
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Readership: New Adult
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Rating: ★★★.5

 

I received a copy of Conventionally Yours from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When two “big name fans” go head-to-head at a convention, love isn’t the only thing at stake.

Charming, charismatic, and effortlessly popular, Conrad Stewart seems to have it all…but in reality, he’s scrambling to keep his life from tumbling out of control.

Brilliant, guarded, and endlessly driven, Alden Roth may as well be the poster boy for perfection…but even he can’t help but feel a little broken inside.

When these mortal enemies are stuck together on a cross-country road trip to the biggest fan convention of their lives, their infamous rivalry takes a backseat as an unexpected connection is forged. Yet each has a reason why they have to win the upcoming Odyssey gaming tournament and neither is willing to let emotion get in the way—even if it means giving up their one chance at something truly magical.

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Annabeth Albert’s work and will pretty much read anything she releases, so I was excited to pick up Conventionally Yours, her most recent book, which is a New Adult contemporary book. It features some of my favourite tropes – road trips and enemies to lovers and also celebrates geek culture, which is great.

Conrad and Alden are both members of a gaming group for the popular card game Odyssey. Along with their group-members, they’re also part of an on-going vlog series about the game, and are relatively well-known within the gaming community, especially for their rivalry. The opportunity to attend the biggest Odyssey conference comes up and the two ‘enemies’ find themselves on a road trip to the event. The chance to compete in a tournament is important to both, for very different reasons, and despite their initial animosity towards one another, this trip might just be the opportunity they need to learn more about one another and find that they’ve got more in common than they think.

Admittedly, this is not my favourite of Albert’s works, but it was still a very enjoyable read. While I’m not much of a gamer (in any format) I do appreciate the culture that builds up around those games and fandoms. People often become like family and I think that’s a huge underlying thread throughout this book. I think much of what I loved about this book was the way it celebrates geeky culture and how it can be a huge support to people who might otherwise not have much to hold on to. Fandom is a big part of many people’s lives and this book highlights that importance.

I liked the contrast between Conrad and Alden – one is living (minute) paycheck to paycheck and needs the tournament win to survive, and the other is bucking the life choices his mothers have made for him. One is fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants and the other is straight laced and this is part of the conflict between them. They both struggle to see the truth beneath the others’ exterior, but once they’re forced to spend time together (forced proximity is a GREAT trope) they have to develop a bit more empathy for the other person.

Albert’s books are not (in my experience) super-fast reads, but the pacing in this one felt extra slow, which is probably my biggest issue with the book. I felt that, at times, we could have moved through scenes a bit quicker and kept up the momentum, but upon reflection, this is really about the characters and their slow journey to realising their mutual attraction to one another, so just keep that in mind if reading.

While Conventionally Yours may not have been my favourite of Albert’s works, it is definitely still a book that I enjoyed. It had enough great characters, great character and relationship growth and enjoyable fandom-love to keep me entertained.

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