Release Date: Jun 30, 2020
Heat Level: Sensual
Publisher: Kensington Books
Crushing It is a debut rom-com from Lorelei Parker. The story is about Sierra Reid, a self proclaimed nerd and game designer. Sierra wants to pitch her latest idea to her company at a big conference in Germany, but she’s got a bad case of nerves. So on the advice of her friend she goes to a diary slam at a local bar, where she unexpectedly runs into her college crush, Tristan Spencer. Even though she’s embarrassed by their encounter, Tristan is flattered and he asks to spend time with her. Sierra agrees, but feels conflicted because she’s also spending time with Alfie, another blast from her past. Now she doesn’t know who she wants more, and she still needs to figure out her game plan. What’s a girl to do?
I love getting to read debut books, because I love to support new creatives in the romance subgenre. The blurb of this book drew me in, since I could relate to the story of a nerdy girl wanting another chance with her college crush. I also loved that Seirra was a game designer which is a very male dominated career.
I wanted to like this book since it seemed primed to tick off so many of my favorite boxes, and it was highly advertised as a good summer read. However, it was a struggle to finish the book because I had issues with the characters and the plot. Parker’s writing was well done, and I see a lot of potential in her work.
The premise of the story was interesting. I think it was just a bit too predictable for me, especially since the love triangle followed a lot of similar beats to classic rom-com movies like Pretty in Pink and Never Been Kissed. This made the reading of the story both familiar and comforting, while at the same time being entirely too predictable. Alfie was a great romance hero and the perfect antithesis to Tristan’s spoiled and entitled pretty boy. Many people will enjoy that the quiet boy gets the girls like Duckie should have all those years ago.
However, I didn’t want the girl to get anyone. I didn’t like being in Sierra’s head and found her character to be a very strange contradiction. We’re told she’s a nerd that wants to live in the shadows, but she’s also the queen of hookups which seems like two sides of the spectrum. She also spends way too much time entertaining the idea of Tristan and holding Alfie at an arms’ length. I couldn’t figure out why such a good guy like Alfie was so interested in her.
This book also reads like other rom-coms from authors like Jasmine Guillory or Emily Henry, which I have started to term “romance-lite”. This, to me, means that the story focuses a lot of page time on other elements of the story besides the central love plot. The generally accepted definition of a romance is that the love story is the central plot, and this is the type of book I want to pick up. In this book we’re wasting a lot of page time on Sierra’s job and her interactions with Tristan. It’s not till three quarters into the story that true romance blooms between her and Alfie.
I didn’t find anything in the book to have a genuine laugh at, most of the comedic beats were relying on embarrassing or uncomfortable situations. This kind of humor works in TV or movies but is truly difficult to pull off on page. I think you’d be better served by truly funny contemporary authors like Tessa Bailey or Talia Hibbert who don’t rely on embarrassment to get the laugh. I’d love to tell you to support this new author, and if anything I’ve mentioned in this review isn’t a deal breaker for you then give it a shot. Otherwise, save your pennies and seek out better examples from the authors I’ve mentioned above.