DON’T HATE THE PLAYER by Alexis Nedd
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Emilia’s gaming is the one thing she’s actually good at. Well, actually she’s good at a lot of things, but gaming is the one thing that she’s good at that she actually likes. And that’s kind of why she keeps it a secret. Her field hockey coach mom pushes her in school sports and micromanages her college choices. Her best friend ropes Emilia into serving as VP in her student government campaign. But Emilia’s role as the best DPS player on her anonymous team–that knowledge is just for her.
Until a boy from her past shows up on a rival team at a gaming convention.
Emilia only met Jake a couple times as kids, bonding over gaming, but apparently he remembers her. And if she’s being honest, she remembers him, too. But he goes to her high school, and that’s a huge problem. Jake agrees to keep their friendship on the DL, but the attraction they felt as preteens still lingers. When their secret friendship starts getting tangled in politics and the high stakes gaming competition, will Emilia be willing to let Jake’s friendship go? Or will she finally find the courage to be true to her heart?
Although I think this contemporary YA rom-com will be most appealing to gamers, it has all the elements to make romance lovers swoon and comedy lovers laugh out loud. It sideswipes both the friends to lovers and enemies (or gaming rivals) to lovers tropes while keeping its roots as a character-driven, YA coming-of-age story of a girl who needs to be true to herself when everyone else is pulling her in different directions. A fun, light read for YA rom com fans!