Blog Tour (Book Review): Gaming the System by Laura K. Curtis


Title: Gaming the System
Author: Laura K. Curtis
Genre: Contemporary Romance

As the punk-goth manager of Las Vegas’s premiere adult toy store, Kai Tyler changes her hair color, nail color, and eye color the way some people change socks. In fact, she’s even changed her name. She owes no one, depends on no one, and stopped believing in happily ever after before she reached the age of ten. All she really wants out of life is a few good gadgets and the occasional day of pampering once in a while.

Luke Clarke loves his family, but he has no desire to fulfill his parents’ dream by getting married and going into politics. So when he’s invited to his sister’s week-long wedding gala, he asks Kai along as a decoy. Having a date will squelch his mother’s matchmaking attempts and Kai’s outrageous appearance might—just might—convince his family once and for all that he’ll never have a career in politics.

But as stress, desire, and close quarters eat away at the masks both Luke and Kai wear, their easy arrangement begins to transform into something neither expected. Will they cling to the stable roles of the past, or bet on an uncertain future together?


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In the second book of the Goody’s Goodies series, Luke is trying to annoy his parents by having Kai, an unapologetic Goth girl, fake being his girlfriend for a week.  They think it’ll only be pretend, but it never really is, is it? And then, romance happens.

The Good, The Bad and Everything in Between

-First time reading Ms. Curtis: I’ve haven’t read the earlier book in the series, so perhaps I missed the setup of the relationship of the Goody’s Goodies employees, but by the end I did appreciate the friendships between Kai, Joe, Benny and Celia. The little glimpse of Evie (the heroine from the first book) made me want to check that one out.

-Kai and Luke get right to it: Kai and Luke start off rather quickly, with Luke offering the deal to Kai to be his fake girlfriend, and I would have liked to see more of a setup to that first. It felt very quick. That said, once they settled into the resort for their week long affair, I started to warm up to their relationship. I also liked that there was a realistic aspect to their lovemaking, especially once you get to know Kai and find out all she’s been through. Basically, they’re not shy about using toys and for good reason. I wasn’t always a fan of the things that Luke does, although he does come through in the end. Of the two characters, I felt like I knew Luke pretty well, while Kai was a bit more reserved – frankly, her past really intrigued me and I really would have enjoyed seeing more of that. I feel like we only skimmed the surface and I didn’t connect with her as much as I would have liked.

-The big obstacle wasn’t bad, but …: It also felt as if it was a bit rushed and not particularly deep. It was done in the blink of an eye and suddenly it was all about Luke feeling badly about it all. The subplot with his sister was over and done quickly, though I’m hoping that’s because it’ll come up in another book.  I think there’s potential in this series, if Ms. Curtis really lets go and delves into these characters and their histories more.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I liked it. Luke and Kai have a relationship as unusual as her hair, and I enjoyed seeing their relationship unfold. If you’re into pretend-to-real romances, you may enjoy this.

– Ivy

*An ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.



Laura K. Curtis does everything backwards. As a child, she was extremely serious, so now that she’s chronologically an adult, she feels perfectly justified in acting the fool. She started teaching at age fifteen, then decided to go back to school herself at thirty.

Laura has taught middle school social studies, high school literature, and college-level rhetoric, all with relative success. She’s also a full-on Mac geek who spent years as a consultant and running an academic computing lab. The only thing she completely failed at in the field of education was attempting to teach obedience to her pack of Irish Terriers. Currently, she lives in Westchester, NY, with her husband and two insane Irish Terriers who have taught her how easily love can coincide with the desire to kill.


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