Joint Review – At Any Price by Brenna Aubrey

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00071]Publisher: Self
Publish Date: December 9th
How we got this book: eARC from author

Achievement Unlocked: Geek Virgin

When Mia Strong, proud geek-girl and popular gaming blogger, auctions off her virginity online, she knows she’ll make waves. But what she will not be making is a love connection. Her rules are set in stone: One night. No further contact.

It’s a desperate step, but it’s the only way she can go to medical school and pay her mother’s mounting hospital bills.

Difficulty Level: Millionaire CEO

Adam Drake, the enigmatic auction winner, is a software prodigy who made his first million at seventeen. Now, in his mid-twenties, he’s sexy, driven and–as CEO of his own gaming company–he’s used to making the rules. Before Mia knows what’s happening, he’s found the loophole in the rules of her auction. Every stipulation she’s made to protect her heart gets tossed by the wayside.

She can’t tell if he’s playing her…or if he’s playing for keeps.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

Thoughts on the Hero

MinnChica: Poor Adam, keeping secrets and being all broody about it. For the majority of the book, I had a love/hate relationship with Adam. He was this total enigma about what his true desires were, what his real motivations were behind the auction. He was hot and cold, devoted than distant. I found Adam’s big secret to be an easy clue, and could understand a lot of the motivations behind his actions, but from Mia’s point of view, he was mostly a dick. 🙂 As much as I enjoyed Adam though, I did want more from him. More honesty toward Mia, more opening up about his real motivations before he broke her heart, and more sexy times!

Marlene: I found Adam to be less than lovable for most of the book. While we’re supposed to empathize with him because of the way he raised himself out of his terrible childhood, he was an asshat to Mia throughout the book. He goes into the auction having all the cards, knowing all her secrets. She’s in the dark about him, and he keeps all his secrets. He never intends to stick to the agreement he signs. Whether it’s legal or not, whether it’s a good idea or not, he goes into the whole thing with the intent to break his word. He says he always gets what he wants, and he does. He may believe he has Mia’s best interests at heart, but what gives him the right to take over her life? Adam’s need to control Mia’s life reminded me way too much of Christian Grey.

Has: I also have torn feelings about Adam and I agree that he was a bit of a control freak, although I never felt he ventured into the alphahole territory. But I liked that Mia did stand up to him even though he was pretty dominant and secretive about his motives. I also guessed his secret and the twist early on in the story, which made the premise of the story go in a different tangent that I did not expect. But I could understand why he remained silent because I think he was clueless on how to deal with Mia who brought up so many feelings. Especially about control and lack of it – I think this is going to produce an interesting dynamic between the two of them in the future. I also wished we learned more about him because we only get some of his insights and this is via Mia’s perspective.

 Thoughts on the Heroine

MinnChica: Like Adam, I had a real love/hate relationship with Mia as well. Her character came across as very fickle. One moment she was completely dedicated to her cause in the Virgin Manifesto, and then next she was hesitant. More times than I can count I wanted her to grow a backbone and stick up for herself more, demand more from Adam. Especially once it was clear they both had some intense feelings involved. I wanted her to fight for what she truly desired, not just to keeping their “arrangement.”

Marlene: At the beginning of the book, Mia seems very driven. It’s not just that she has clearly defined goals, but she has a clearly laid-out plan for making her dreams a reality, in spite of the large number of roadblocks that life has put in her way. She is totally determined, to the point of creating her “Virgin Manifesto”. While it’s natural that she would have a few second thoughts about selling her virginity, or even selling sex for money, she starts out the book in control of as much of her life as is possible. Her mother’s cancer being obviously something she can’t control. But during the book she becomes a stereotypical lovesick girl and cedes all control of her life to the object of her affection, Adam. She decides that the dreams she had weren’t her dreams after all, but doesn’t seem to find new ones. The story becomes all about being rescued from her poverty by the handsome billionaire.

Has: The first half of the book I felt her character was more focused and definitely with you both that in the second half she loses that force that made her interesting in the beginning. But I disagree that she loses herself totally with Adam. I think it was easy for her to be swept away with his lifestyle and I think towards the end she realises that he was being a controlling jerk and she did stand up to him. I also think she’s afraid of being made vulnerable and that was something she couldn’t control. Both characters have issues with control which is why I think its interesting aspect about their characters. I also have the sense that her ambitions in the beginning wasn’t something she was truly desired which was why she was so reluctant to drive forward with her goals. I think deep down she knows this and I have a feeling this will be something she realises in the future although I could be wrong!

But I have to say I really liked the geeky element to Mia’s character and this was one of the strongest factors in this book. I really enjoyed the references and her insights into gaming and geek culture and it felt refreshing to other characters in similar books with this premise.

 Favorite Scene

MinnChica: Hmmm, this is a tough one. I think for me I would have to go with their day on Adam’s yacht. It was a day spent with the two of them growing closer, opening up to each other, and just enjoying one another’s company on a beautiful day. It went to show just how much they had in common as friends, how much they enjoyed each others company, without the complications of a sex.

Marlene: It is hard to find a scene that doesn’t get messed up with either a fight or the complications of Adam’s big lie. The day on Adam’s yacht is the one that lasts the longest before things go to hell in the proverbial handcart.

Has: I won’t go into spoilers but I liked the scene in the end when the big conflict and aftermath happened. When Mia realises the truth of her feelings and accepted them especially in context with Adam I felt the romance really stepped up a gear for me.

 Dislike about book

MinnChica: While I really liked the set up of the book, I was kinda disappointed that the sexy times were put off for so long. Every time Adam blew Mia off I was disappointed as much as Mia, because I wanted them to get it on! 🙂 And as individuals, I had some issues with both Mia and Adam. I wanted more from their characters, and thought that at times they were both extremely fickle. I get frustrated when characters are so indecisive, especially when they aren’t like that in other aspects of their lives.

Marlene: I also liked the setup of the story, but the characters turned out not to be strong enough to carry it for me. One of the things that didn’t work for me was that the story is told from Mia’s first person perspective, so we live it from inside her head, and her head is a pretty messed up place most of the time. Also, she’s fairly naive about Adam’s motivations, so we don’t get to know what’s going on in his head. I wish we did. He seems to be a more complex character than Mia. I’d love to have known what he was thinking.

Has: I agree about the only perspective being Mia as the weak element in this book. I think if we had some Adam POV’s it would have balanced the story more and not made it so frustrating which I think kind of dragged on a little. But I kind of liked the long wait because it did help with the tension and strengthened the emotional factors in the romance. However I wished Adam opened more about himself and told his secret sooner.

 Any other misc. thoughts along with grade

MinnChica: All in all I thought At Any Price was a cute read. I really loved getting to read about a geeky heroine, and have to admit that all of Mia’s game time playing made me want to renew my World of Warcraft account!! I wish we could see more geeky heroines in romance! While I had some problems with the book, it was a wonderfully written and fun read, and think NA fans will absolutely enjoy this one. Although there was a HEA at the end of this book, apparently the next will also feature Mia and Adam as well.
I give At Any Price a C

Marlene: Quite a few of Girl Geek’s thoughts about gaming reminded me of Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian and her Tropes vs. Women series about the portrayals of women in video games. Anytime that Mia did a shout-out about how much fun it is to play video games and how whacked the characterization of females in games and female gamers is, I wanted to stand up and cheer. I also started a new co-op game of Diablo III because she reminded me just how much fun a good hack-and-slash can be with the right party. (I am a girl geek and I’m proud!)

But about the story…The set up was fantastic, but the execution dragged on. The dynamic between Adam and Mia reminded me way too much of Christian Grey and Ana Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey. We have the dominant, successful-at-a-very-early-age and rich man from a very messed up childhood, hiding a ton of secrets from a younger, inexperienced and impoverished woman who he wants to control. And their story doesn’t end with one book. Even though At Any Price comes to a resolution, it may only be a Happy For Now, as Mia and Adam are still the central characters in book 2.
I give At Any Price a C-

Has: I enjoyed At Any Price more and I did like the romance but I agree that it did drag with the premise which stagnated the plot in the middle. However while there were flaws, I was sucked into the story even though the plot went into a different direction than I expected. The romance also promises to produce an interesting dynamic and I am definitely interested in picking up the next book. I am a sucker for a geeky heroine or hero!
I give At Any Price a C+

2 thoughts on “Joint Review – At Any Price by Brenna Aubrey”

  1. Wow is it required nowadays of billionaires to be controlling asshats? Although a geek heroine sounds great, I am totally not interested in this.

  2. @xaurianx:

    Heh I’ve read beta heroes who are billionaires, but I think most who are have to be alphas. But the heroine was great and in my opinion Adam wasn’t an alphahole compared to other heroes.

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