I discovered Annabeth Albert late last year when I read her short stories contribution to a couple of anthologies. I find that she writes romance that I enjoy. While not all of her stories are winners but I tend to mark her releases as auto-read. Sometimes I don't even check the blurb for it. The same with this one. I saw the title, the author name, and a dog on the cover, and I just knew that I needed to read it.
Well, Status Update is another Albert's book on my winner column. The moment that 25-year-old Adrian Gottlieb and his dog Pixel get stranded after his six-month of a boyfriend leaves him at snowy RV campground, and the 35-year-old geoarchaeologist professor Noah Walters along with his people-challenged dog Ulysses offer Adrian to stay for the night --- I was hooked. I couldn't help it; it had the idea of close-space intimacy and a promise of road-trip (because of course Noah also offers to drive Adrian home) which I always love.
The winning factor for me in this case was Noah. Sure, Adrian is the more outgoing between the two. He is the one who flirts first, who gets into Noah's space, who pushes Noah's boundary, and in the end challenges Noah about his way of life while offering the love, understanding, and support that Noah needs ... but Noah is the one grabbing my heart. Maybe because I saw myself in Noah a number of times.
Whenever Noah admits that he is not very comfortable around a lot of people, that he is the world 'worst comforter' (I also don't do well with extreme emotions) ... it felt like Noah and I shared some traits. Because of that, Noah's inner struggle to deal with his sexuality, his fear, his doubts ... ALL of those spoke volumes for me.
I couldn't help feeling jubilant with how Noah progressed in the book. From being scared to take that step of admitting his sexuality to his family and his workplace. To take those possibilities. I was so proud of Noah that I had tears in my eyes when he made that significant call to his sister. I loved Adrian but Noah was the soul of this book for me.
The book had several sex scenes but I wasn't bothered that much. Duly noted, I skimmed them but I thought they didn't overpower the characters and most importantly it didn't outshine the plot nor the romance. I did HATE the "baby" endearment though (my 'thing' not yours), thankfully I could just deleted those words to make my reading experience bearable.
I did think that near the end, the story became a bit preachy with the kind of stereotypical thinking from the Christian school that Noah works at -- complete with the whole 'sinner' and 'giving in to your demons' speech. I was expecting that the book can rise above that.
However, in overall, I found Status Update to be charming and sweet. A definite treat.
PS: I must complain about the lack of Pixel in the cover though!! Why just one dog! We have two dogs in the story!!
The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.