When I first read At Any Price, I was instantly hooked. From the very beginning, I knew Gaming the System would be a series that would be close to my heart. And close to my heart it has become indeed. Brenna Aubrey sure does not disappoint with At Any Turn, the second installment in this amazing series.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
So You Want to Be a Hero?
Millionaire CEO Adam Drake, overcame a tortured past to build his own gaming empire. He’s in complete control of his life. With his new found love for brilliant geek girl blogger, Mia Strong, the last piece of his life is in place. He's at the top of his game.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle.
Until suddenly, she withdraws from him, leaving him in the dark. Something tells him she needs help. But she's too stubborn or scared to ask for it, and the more he tries to take control, the further he pushes her away. He can’t solve this problem by writing a check or a few lines of code.
He’ll have to dig deep and put himself at risk…or risk losing her forever.
This New Adult contemporary romance is intended for readers over the age of 18 due to adult language, sexual content and adult situations.
Okay, so before I get carried away with my nonsensical rambling, let’s get this review started.
The first thing that I loved about At Any Turn is that although it is told in Adam’s POV, it isn’t in any way a POV retelling. God knows how many series go down that path (and not all of them work, IMHO). In At Any Turn, we definitely discover a lot more about who Adam Drake really is. Behind that hot alpha male persona is a control freak plagued with insecurities that threaten to cripple him slowly before he even figures out what’s happening.
Adam Drake is too smart for his own good. To him, life is one giant game of D&D and he’s the one true DM. Every move he makes is calculated, every eventuality accounted for. When things go awry, he becomes desperate to get that runaway train back on the right track. And that becomes Adam’s ultimate downfall. In At Any Price, it’s no secret how controlling Adam is. I mean, he’s been the mastermind of EVERYTHING right from the very start. FallenOne, the auction (and winning the auction)… But it turns out, that was just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more to Adam Drake than meets the eye, and some of the things he hides behind his mask are not pretty to look at.
We’ve seen how Adam fought for Emilia in At Any Price but I enjoyed reading about what happens after the happily ever after. It turns out that not every HEA stays that way. I’m a big fan of the Emilia-Adam pairing and I cannot easily accept that it won’t be them in the end. When Emilia starts to push Adam away for very vague and unforeseen reasons, as a reader, I can’t help but feel Adam’s desperation to cling to Emilia. He’s clinging to the idea of them and I can’t blame him for doing so. My heart broke for Adam over and over again.
Given the way they started their relationship, it’s understandable that they’d have some trust issues. But everything just sort of blows up in both of their faces. Add in their insecurities about why they should or shouldn’t be together and it all becomes a disaster of epic proportions. For most of the book, it was painful to see how they dole out buckets of hurt on each other. And it was frustrating as hell because I couldn’t figure out what caused such a rift between them in the first place.
I don’t want to say this but damn, I sort of hated Emilia here in At Any Turn. Her passive-aggressive behavior just put me on edge every single time. Why can't she just make up her mind? It’s either she wants Adam or she doesn’t. For the love of all that is holy, put the poor man out of his misery!
The thing is, what I admire most about Brenna Aubrey’s writing (as reinforced by At Any Turn) is that she writes her characters in a very realistic fashion. They’re not the product of some delusionary ideal of what a protagonist should be like (i.e., perfect without a fault). Emilia (as we see her in the first book) and now Adam, both have character flaws that truly add to the complexity of the novel as a whole. These multidimensional characters spice things up in such a riveting way. As readers, we learn to love these characters because of these flaws. They become much more human and tangible to us readers and I LOVE THAT.
Although I did not expect the author to steer the story into THAT direction (nope, I am NOT going to spill anything, you have to read the book!), I honestly thought it worked well. I think it was a good move on her part to write the book as she did. The problem with most trilogies is that the middle book always ALWAYS becomes a filler book. There’s more character developing and world building but not much else goes on. For me, Brenna Aubrey goes beyond that with At Any Turn. The way I see it, she was able to establish the world and the characters well with At Any Price. And now with At Any Turn, she digs deeper and delves further into the hearts and souls of her characters, bringing all their shadows to light to bring each character’s individual image into focus. And now that the world building and character development phases are complete, she sets the last book up for an explosive and truly compelling end.
After reading these two books, I’m just dying to finally see how this story will end for Emilia and Adam. As the first two books prove, nothing is always as it seems and a happy ending does not always equate to a happily ever after. So, for now, I wait excruciatingly for At Any Moment, the third and final book in Brenna Aubrey’s Gaming the System series.