Recommended Read–Level Up by Cathy Yardley (review)

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I’m a massive geek. I regularly live tweet episodes of the various DC tv shows, and I have FEELINGS about many nerdy things. (Seriously, guys, who do I have to blow to get a Black Widow movie????) When a friend shared that she liked this week’s recommended read, I immediately clicked over to Amazon.


geek love

Geeky introvert Tessa Rodriguez will do whatever it takes to get promoted to video game engineer– including create a fandom-based video game in just three weeks. The only problem is, she can’t do it alone. Now, she needs to strong-arm, cajole, and otherwise socialize with her video game coworkers, especially her roommate, Adam, who’s always been strictly business with her. The more they work together, though, the closer they get…

from amazon


I like so many things about this story, but one of the biggest was that the gaming company parts feel authentic. I actually have a few thousand words of a story set at a gaming company sitting on my hard drive right now. I started and stopped writing it a few years ago because it is not easy to write this kind of workplace. My husband is a programmer, and I know so many of them, but I just can’t seem to write them well, despite my immersion in the culture. Yardley does it pitch perfect, including the fact that it so hard to be a woman coder. The brogrammer phenomenon is real, and that Tessa earns her spot with a baptism by fire feels legit.

Tessa is a great character. Like many geeks (hi) she’s introverted in person. So when Adam suggests that her introverted nature is part of why she isn’t getting ahead, she forces herself out of her comfort zone. She meets a great cast of secondary characters who share her passion for a tv show. Wanting to help her new friends drives the rest of the narrative.

Adam has spent the last year trying to get over his ex. The way that he finally catches on the fact that Tessa is a woman feels believable. Adam’s friends/their co-workers are also well written. They’re brogrammers, but not assholes.

The attraction is real, and builds with great tension. The pacing from friends to sex is very well-written. I’m really glad that this is the first in a series of novellas (you can get another one if you sign up for her newsletter for free!) because I really like the characters. I hope that they cross over into each other’s stories and you can see the evolution of the group as well as the invidual stories.

Geek or not, this is a great story. Pick it up today!

You can find out more about Cathy at her website, check out her booklist, or follow her on twitter.

One Response

  1. […] of the romance. Enter the Fandom Hearts series by Cathy Yardley–I’d previously read and reviewed Level Up, the first novella in the […]

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