Conventionally Yours (True Colors, #1), Annabeth Albert

Conventionally Yours is a sweet and super cute opposites attract novel about two fantasy gamers falling in love. This slow burn romance takes place when our two gaming guys, who feature on a YouTube channel, find themselves on a road trip across America together, on their way to a big gaming convention where they both are after the big cash prize, and a chance to go on a pro gaming tour. The boys have always seen each other as enemies, with their personalities clashing as much as their gaming styles. If they can even make it to the convention without killing each other, they will have to defeat the other to take the big prize, but as the lines between enemies, friends and more starts to blur, the thought of knocking each other out of the competition starts to not seem as fun as it used to.

“I did not want to spend days on end in a car with someone who made no secret of not liking me, even though he got along with almost everyone else. Something about the two of us was like mixing Diet Coke and Mentos—guaranteed instant eruption”

There were a lot of tropes in this one, and it ticked off a few of my favourites in romance novels. First and foremost, I would definitely classify this one as a slow burn, with the novel taking a long time both in pacing and page numbers. In some ways this was good at it made their transition from enemies to lovers feel more realistic, with their perceptions of each other changing slowly. I did feel however that it could have been tightened up overall with a bit less time devoted to the details of the fictional game they were playing. I enjoyed the nerd vibes but could have done with less actual descriptions of the game matches they had against people, as there were quite a lot!

I love a good opposites attract trope and Conventionally Yours delivers in that regard. Conrad on the surface seems like the ultimate popular guy with friends galore, a carefree attitude and classic good looks, but under the surface is falling apart, abandoned by his family, and essentially homeless. Similarly Alden on the surface is polite, smart and the picture of perfection, but under the surface is struggling with being ‘atypical’ and feeling disconnected from ‘normal’ people. Both of our leading men envy the other but harbour a grudging attraction that is a great recipe for romance to build.

“I can’t say that I know what you’ve gone through. But I do know what it’s like to believe you’re broken when really all you are is…you.”

I liked both these characters and were rooting for them not only to begin to like each other, but also learn from each other. They each had a mountain of issues, and struggles, though I enjoyed that they were different problems, almost opposite sides of the same coin, they foiled each other in a way that made for an interesting read. For example while Conrads family all but disowned him when he the discovered his sexuality, Aldens were so supportive yet over-invested which lead to different challenges in each of the boys lives covering hurt, pressure, guilt, longing, and many more emotions. These differing experiences kept things interesting.

“I realized I wanted to be the thing that gave him comfort for real. Wanted to be a safe place for him.”

The setting of the road trip is also a pretty fun one, and gives good reason and structure for these enemies to actually spend enough time together and get into situations that will actually force their perceptions of each other to be reframed. We have the classic car break down, the oh no there is only one bed, and many more classics that you can expect from a romcom like this. All elements I pretty much always like that make these novels winners for me.

“I finally believed that I could be enough for him. Exactly as he was to me.”

We also have some good rep here, even for a LGBTQIA+ novel, including multiple same sex couples, same sex parents, non-binary. We see these people represented in an array of personality and physical types, showing that diversity exists in all kinds of sexual orientations and genders, and we don’t just have the one dimensional representation.

Conventionally Yours isn’t breaking any records but is a sweet, enjoyable read that will put a smile on your face while still representing broad range of issues and people. It’s a bit of fun and for those looking to escape with some nerds who fall in love, this is a good one to add to your to read list.

I read this for my Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt “a book set somewhere you’d like to visit in 2021”. You can check out my progress here.

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