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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.
"This New Adult contemporary romance is intended for readers over the age of 18 due to adult language, sexual content and adult situations."

391 pages, ebook

First published December 9, 2013

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About the author

Brenna Aubrey

41 books2,063 followers
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Smart is Sexy
Brenna Aubrey is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of contemporary romance stories. Her debut novel, At Any Price, is currently free on all platforms. Her books are on over a million e-readers worldwide. They've also been translated into German, French, Italian, Dutch and adapted into an interactive app game!

She has always sought comfort in good books and the long, involved stories she weaves in her head. Brenna is a city girl with a nature-lover’s heart. She therefore finds herself out in green open spaces any chance she can get. She currently resides on the west coast of the US with her husband and children (both human and furry).

Reading Order
High Risk
High Reward

At Any Price ~ (Adam & Mia part 1)
At Any Turn ~ (Adam & Mia part 2)
At Any Moment ~ (Adam & Mia part 3)
For the Win ~ (Jordan & April)
For the One ~ (William & Jenna)
Worth Any Cost ~ (Adam & Mia part 4)
It Was Always You ~ (Jeremy & Michaela)
For The Taking ~ (Lucas & Katya)
For The Holidays ~ (ensemble)

More titles forthcoming...

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Profile Image for Candace.
1,176 reviews4,330 followers
July 24, 2016
This is another book that had been sitting on my Audible shelf for quite some time now. I'm determined to work my way through my audiobooks before I buy any more. Finally, I'm starting to make a dent in my stack.

'At Any Price' was a good, but not great, read for me. It tells the story of Mia, a young video game blogger/aspiring medical student. Mia decides to auction off her virginity in order to pay for school and to help her mother, who has been financially crippled by her expensive cancer treatments.

The winner of the auction is Adam Drake, a young business mogul that made his fortune developing video games. From the start, it is clear that Adam isn't just interested in what he paid for. As he drags out his time with Mia, certain connections between the two become more obvious.

Not surprisingly, both Mia and Adam are tortured souls with a whole lot of emotional baggage. There was plenty of melodrama in this story to spread across two or three books, in truth. At about seventy-five percent of the way in, it seemed to dive into over-the-top drama. Up until that point, things were going pretty well.

Eventually, the story recovered and delivered a nice, happily ever after. All in all, it was a good story. It made me smile and it left me feeling contented in the end. It isn't one that will leave any type of lasting impression, but it was nice.
July 19, 2017
Adding safety warnings at the end of the review.

This book is like a permanent free book. You don’t need to have a kindle you only need to have an amazon account.
The first time I heard of this book was years ago through Anne Rice’s facebook page. She posted a link to Brianna’s blog . Miss Aubrey explained how this book was auctioned and got the interest of some publishing houses but she rejected the conctract that would pay her a good fortune and instead decide to self-publish. She even posted a couple of excel sheets sharing her earnings, although it didn’t look official, it looked like any excel sheet that could have been edited or something, but anyway it was like in terms of money, self-publishing was the right way to do it. What got my interest is that the story was about a girl who auctioned her virginity. That is like a very cool concept and I’m a sucker for virgin stories, they are my favorite trope so the moment the book got discounted I got my copy and…
completely forgot about it! Seriously I have a lot of discounted and free books on both my kindle and my kobo and still keep buying more and more.I just recently read it because I wanted to erase some books of my kindle, but after reading I know I want to keep this book!It’s very good. Not like I’ll add to my list of favorites, but at the very least I think I might want to re-read my favorite parts. And there’s a lot to like in this book.

I also want to point out that although this book is new adult isn’t about college life, it could have been marketed as romantic suspense or adult fiction and still work. The reason I read new adult is because I love those first experiences, the first job, the campus life, the first relationship, the struggles with teachers and classmates, and there’s barely any of that here, it’s more adult than new adult and during the first half of the book the characters display maturity.

So this girl, Mia Strong wants to auction her virginity because she thinks that virginity it’s not a big deal, like she thinks it’d be more equal if she receives something for it so she auctions her virginity on line. That in itself is cool and edgy, because isn’t like a form of prostitution? But if the girl is willing and she’s not hurting anyone isn’t that her problem and no one else’s business? I personally was all for it, who cares? It’s her body and her mother is sick with cancer so if she can put her virginity to a good cause why not?
The enter the hero, adam drake and sexual chemistry oozes from the pages, I love how he was introduced, like a jackass and a mysterious millionaire, like he will try to protect heroine of doing it, which will be difficult because HE WON THE AUCTION, he’ll pay her good money for losing her v card but he’ll do his best to not surrender to the temptation and take her virginity as it’s in the contract because he’s a protective jerk.

The steamy moments are well written as the couple slowly getacquaintanced with each other bodies without getting the real deal. my problem is that when the moment to really close the deal comes author holds on us, like she was all explicit in the make outs but not so explicit in the real deal and that was disappointing because it was the moment I was waiting for and it was over quickly. She also wanted to make this big twist out of revealing the true identity of…. Well it doesn’t work, it was obvious since the beginning who this person was and even if you didn’t give a thought to this secret identity it’s not really a surprising, I thought that Mia was really dumb for not noticing it before and being shocked. I also didn’t like that she’s supposedly this independent woman, but in the last chapters she gets this crying fits over things that shouldn’t be a big deal. I can take one crying fit but not three almost in a row in the last third of the book. She didn’t live up to her last name. Another thing I didn ‘t like as someone who is very close to single moms is the portrayal of mia’s anger. The whole thing of kids making fun of mia because her dad didn’t visit is a tad bit unbelievable even if she grew up in a provintial, small town. It’s very difficult nowadays to distinguish single moms from divorced moms, or divided families. Unless mia grew up before the sixties most kids won’t notice the few who noticed won’t care and most won’t make fun of a family with a missing father because it’s very likely that some of them will be in the same position and that they aren’t even a minority .Those are minor complains, I don’t think any of those things really puts you out of the story and it didn’t ruin my reading experience, I enjoyed this book a lot.
I recommend this book to fans of fifty shades of grey or even FSOG haters, like the elements of the romance is there, the virgin heroine, the millionaire, the drunk calling scene, but the relationship is less abusive because Mia stands her ground and is stubborn, and the hero is a dominant sexy jerk but there’s less of a power imbalance between the couple.

I'll read more of this author because I want to read her virgin hero novel.

Brief mention of
Very light on OW drama
Sequels seem to have the trope I hate the most However, I still don't have the full information because I saw mixed opinions about this but I won't read books 2 and 3 either way. This book is a standalone with a happy ending, it's not necessary to read the other books if you have problems with this trope because the ending is conclusive and leaves the couple in a very happy place.

Profile Image for Maria✦❋Steamy Reads Blog❋✦.
662 reviews2,456 followers
October 20, 2016

So... this was a case of "I liked it but didn't love it"...

➦I enjoyed the gaming aspect of the book. The heroine is a female gamer in a MMORPG and has a very popular gaming blog about the game she plays. She struggled big time financially; we are talking barely enough money to eat. She has a dream of going to medical school and so she comes up with this idea of selling her virginity at an online auction........

➦Come in wealthy CEO of a gaming company... (I'm not giving any spoilers, it's in the blurb) He wins her auction. Can you make any connection yet?

✘The book is very predictable. I mean I saw it coming from a mile away. And despite it being a somewhat enjoyable and at time sexy read it fell short for me due to the fact that I already knew what it was all building up to.

✘There was a lot of back and forth between these two which left me exhausted by the end. And we only get HFN ending because... surprise surprise... there are a bunch of books after this one which I am not going to read!

❤It's a sweet story. The whole having friends online is understandable, it's kind of the age we live in. The internet makes it easy to make connections. I once met someone in real life who I spent hours playing a game online with... by ACCIDENT in a DIFFERENT COUNTRY. Small world! (No, it wasn't my husband)

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Profile Image for • Lisa •.
555 reviews1,531 followers
November 13, 2013


I was kindly approached by the author to read and review her up and coming novel 'At any price', reading the blurb I was quite excited about diving into this gaming romance. So with some time on my hands and an expectation of an original storyline I jumped right in, here are my book thoughts ..

What's it all about?
Mia Strong, medical student and expert gaming blogger is the queen of staying in control of her life. So when her decision to auction her virginity via her blog takes a life of its own she finds herself meeting one gorgeous and outrageously rich CEO who is more than willing to step up to the task. One night, no strings attached, no further contact all so she can help her family climb out of financial difficulties. But when you combine Mia with her determination to improve her future and Adam Blake a CEO who is used to getting his way in every circumstance, drama, attraction and secrets follow at every turn. 'At any price' is a gaming romance, New Adult novel that showcases a relationship that might just end up as a forever kind of love.


What did I like?
I appreciated that the author has created a story with an original premise. The idea of a geeky gaming blogger auctioning off her virginity sounded as comical as it is shocking and yes the author delivered a storyline that was both clever, sexy and at times touching. The story had several components to it that I thought were dealt with well ... Family illness, abuse, sexuality, friendship, love. The writing was well edited and seemingly well thought out. As much as I failed to connect fully with the couple as individuals, I loved them as a couple the scenes where they were together were my favourite and I thought the author created a believable chemistry. The author definitely knows how to deliver steamy to her audience who knew gaming geeks could get so hot in between the sheets. I read this book in one sitting and I'll be looking out for more from this author.

Why not five?
I think my biggest issue was my failure to connect to the characters, I understood the authors storyline and I thought she did a great job of connecting the dots, but I was missing falling in love with the hero and heroine. The story also had blurred topics, was it a quirky tale of the geeky gaming world? or was it a tale of the alpha CEO falling for the naive virgin? The answer is, it was both and I'm not sure that it worked trying to bring those themes together, there were also Other topics that were thrown into the storyline that although the author wrote well I thought were unnecessary. As the saying goes 'less is sometimes more'. Overall I found myself turning pages to see what would become of this story so undoubtably this author held my attention but there were those little constant niggles that held me back from a higher rating.


Final thoughts?
This is a well thought out, quirky romance story with a gaming theme throughout, but don't worry if like me you are not familiar with this world you wont need to be a complete computer geek to follow the storyline. Filled with romance, drama, secrets and a sexy CEO 'At any price' may just be your next favourite read, go grab it readers. Enjoy ... Kisses.

*ARC generously provided directly by the author, Brenna Aubrey in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Patrycja.
639 reviews3,795 followers
December 13, 2013

Title: At Any Price
Series: Gaming The System #1
Release Date: December 9th, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Cliffhanger: No

At any Price was incredibly sexy, intense and full of action story that certainly succeeded in keeping me on my toes. I was enjoying myself the entire time I was reading it and never, not even for a second I thought about doing something else. This quirky novel hooked me and turned out to be surprising, pleasurable story, that definitely is four star worthy.

At any Price is about Mia Strong, a geek fascinated with gaming. She’s a blogger and a poor student, that struggles with money. One day she makes a desperate step, that will change her life forever. She writes a post called ‘Virgin Manifesto’ where she start an auction for her… virginity.

“I already told you I’d rather not know him. I just want to get it over with as quickly as possible. It’s not a romantic act for me – just a bit of skin. I have no emotional attachment to it. It’s high time I lost it. This way, I can move on with my life with a nice fat bank account.”

Quickly, her hymen is sold for almost one million dollars. The wealthy, handsome and extremely sexy billionaire CEO, Adam Drake is the man that will deflower her. The same man that not only wants a one night of passion with her, but a lot of more.

I immensely adored how Aubrey created her story. From the complex, interesting characters to the phenomenal writing style, At any Price captured my attention, and easily made me fall in love with this sensual and unique story. With passionate romance, great characters and plot that was full of twist and turns, I was very much enjoying myself. It was never predictable and hot as hell.

Overall, I really had a blast while reading Brenna Aubrey’s book. It was every geek girl’s wet dream. And I will definitely look forward to more, despite the fact I’d prefer if it had been standalone novel rather than a series.

Profile Image for SueBee★bring me an alpha!★.
2,417 reviews14.2k followers
Want to read
March 7, 2017
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Book 1 & 2 FREE on Amazon US today (3/6/2017)

Series complete.
FREE: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...

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.

FREEBIES are often good for MORE than one day. I have gathered all my FREEBIES on a special shelf: Kindle-freebies (currently over 600 books)
Profile Image for Brenna Aubrey.
Author 41 books2,063 followers
July 16, 2018
Sign up for the author newsletter for news on new releases, bonus scenes, etc.

Read the prequel to AT ANY PRICE. Mia's story, GIRL GEEK.

This love had cost me more than three quarters of a million dollars. It had cost me my heart. And there was no buying it back--at any price. It belonged to him. Forever.

Adam and Mia's story is a complete trilogy. The follow-up novels are available now:

At Any Turn (Gaming the System Book 2)

At Any Moment (Gaming the System Book 3)

Excerpt from At Any Price ~ Adam and Mia's first kiss:

I locked gazes with him, suddenly intensely aware of how close we were standing. I could smell him—a subtle scent, masculine, clean, like the ocean and the hint of peppermint candy on his breath. I could almost feel the heat and power oozing off of him in waves. I swallowed in a suddenly dry throat.

“I don’t know.”

“I want to give you one more thing to think about.”

“And what is that?”

He leaned closer, his head approaching mine. I didn’t have the time to step back nor, I think, the willpower to do it even if it had occurred to me. His mouth met mine in a firm, sure kiss.

It wasn’t overpowering. That was the first thing that surprised me. It was a subtle give and take—gentle, at first, a warm pressure of his lips on mine. Then he took a step closer and slid a hand around my waist, the other going to my back.

He retreated, just slightly, just enough to allow me to pursue him. His mouth moved against mine, teasing, pressing it open. Now his body pressed against mine, his head angled down to reach me, for I was at least five inches shorter than him.

I opened my mouth to him then and his tongue slid in easily. Nothing tentative in this kiss. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was telling me I had the control, declaring the decision mine and then swooping in and taking no prisoners.

His hands stayed put. I was glad of that though I wanted his touch everywhere—my aching breasts, the throbbing between my legs. Goose bumps prickled up and down my arms. His tongue explored my mouth with surety, easy possession. And—to my utter humiliation—I let loose a small whimper at the back of my throat.

The arm around my waist tightened when he heard it, responding immediately, almost instinctively. He pulled his tongue back, as if inviting me to follow him with my tongue. And tentatively, I did.

I’d been kissed before—back in high school when I was normal and I actually dated. But it had been years, now, and I’d never, ever been kissed like this. My tongue entered his mouth and he made a noise at the back of his throat, not quite a growl, kind of more like a huff. It emboldened me. Empowered me. I thrust my tongue, lacing my hands around the back of his neck. Our heads moved together for long minutes and I felt like I hadn’t breathed in a lifetime.

Everything was spinning around me and I—I was spinning too, delirious with want. Like a woman drowning in the middle of stormy sea, in desperate need of a life raft. That sea was Adam Drake and he was pulling me adrift, stranding me in some strange and forgotten land.

When finally he ended it, he pulled away so slowly that I could hardly tell our lips had parted until cool air passed between us. It was then that I saw that he was as affected as I was—flushed cheeks, his breath coming fast, his eyes dark and drunk with desire.

* Read an excerpt of their first meeting

What is your #GamerName? Post it in the comments

Teaser #4: The Storm


Teaser #3: Love is...


Teaser #2: Mia's Dilemma


Teaser #1: Meet the Hero...


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Profile Image for Michelle Pickett.
Author 10 books901 followers
December 4, 2013
Some weeks ago I reviewed a book about a young woman who auctioned off her virginity. It was a very good book and I gave it a high review. I’m not going to name it here, but you can look back at my past reviews to find it if you’re interested. So, when I picked up “At Any Price” which is about a 22 year-old woman who auctions off her virginity, I thought I was going to get a story similar to the first book I read…you know how trends start. One person writes a vampire book and then everyone writes a vampire book. So I thought I was getting a knock-off of the first “selling my v-card” book I read.


Yes, both young women auction off their v-card. But that’s where the similarities end. “At Any Price” is its own story and, wow, was it a good one. I was hooked. I loved the characters, I loved the storyline, and I loved the book.

My only complaint is that in parts of the story things were a little predictable. I won’t go into what I found predictable; you know I don’t tell what the story is about in my reviews. But the predictability wasn’t enough to take away from the enjoyment of the book.

Okay, the characters. I loved Mia. She’s strong-willed and driven. But she has hang-ups and is far from perfect. She relatable, real. Even though there were times I wanted to hit her upside the head, I loved her. She wants to be in control of everything in life, but learns we rarely control life. Her past haunts her and her present presses down on her—her decision to auction her virginity isn’t made lightly and she struggles with her reasoning. I liked that part of her character.

Adam. Hmm, yeah, he was the kind of character you fall in love with. The book boyfriend. Like Mia, he’s real, relatable and totally hawt. But, like most, he has hang-ups. I loved his character, but there were a lot of times I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and shake some sense into the boy and other times I wanted to grab him and kiss him senseless. Yeah, he was that hot. But the thing about Adam that really got my gears rolling was that he was a good guy. He isn’t a bad boy that turns into perfect boyfriend material. He’s just a good guy trying to make sense of life. He has demons chasing him—don’t we all? But I liked that he was a good guy and that Ms. Aubrey didn’t write him as the typical “bad boy.”

The story was original. The plot was well thought out and everything tied up well at the end. I was satisfied when I read the last page of the book so I was surprised to find that it’s a trilogy. I thought “At Any Price” ended at a good place in Mia and Adam’s story, leading me to think it was a standalone. But although I was satisfied with the ending, and don’t really feel there is a need for additional books, I will definitely sign up to read the sequels.

Bottom line: It’s hot, sexy, and an incredible story about giving up control to grab on to love.
5 Stars…definitely worth the time to read…be warned: once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down until you reach the last page. So clear your schedule!
Profile Image for nicklein.
401 reviews78 followers
March 21, 2017

Those are the words that I would associate with this read.

It was meh and okay enough but the premise actually had the potential to be great if only the author focused on character development big time. The main characters were too dull and flat and infuriating like hell.

Also they lack certain realness in them.

Plus, their actions and words clashed. Doing one thing and then saying another later. But the most twisted thing was when their words seem to contradict what they just said literally seconds ago.

Me is confused af.

“I did that to Lindsay to purposefully hurt you.”

Jerk. Who does that?! And then few pages later, he was confessing his undying love for her. Talk about whiplash.

The secrets were what I consider very anticlimactic. I kept waiting for a nice, jawdropping bomb to drop. None came.

Shit, I did some skimming too. Not proud of it but I can't help myself. If I didn't skim I might have dnfed this. And I powered through partly because of Heath and partly because I hate dnfing.


I like this line though.

“Every minute I spent with you made me want a hundred minutes more.”

Well, you know me, I'm a big fan of swoony words. It still didn't change the fact that this book disappointed me.
February 10, 2021

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DNF @ 47%

While reading this book, I kept thinking of that controversy when that famous gamer girl sold her bathwater and people (mostly dudes, let's be honest) started posting videos of themselves drinking and even smoking it. EVERYONE was talking about it (as people do). But AT ANY PRICE kind of takes that whole fetishization of the girl gamer one step further with a popular female gaming influencer deciding to auction off her virginity to her audience of simps.

Naturally, the winner is a billionaire and hot. Which is where this book takes a decidedly FIFTY SHADES OF GREY tone with an unsexy contract and a lot of talking about "doing it" without actually doing it. Even halfway through the book, the couple still hadn't had penetrative sex. I get that a lot of authors feel the need to draw this out for tension, but it felt unrealistic and kind of weird. And I know, "realistic" in a romance novel? I know it's fiction, but I do like some realism.

So let's talk about what the author did right. She tried to understand gaming culture, to the point that she either did serious research or is a casual gamer herself. I feel like she really tried to make the heroine seem like an influencer and the hero seem like the CEO of a gaming company. And the game that the MC is playing does have Runescape/WoW vibes that gave me all the nostalgias. I also feel like the writing was halfway decent. I just didn't like all the mixed messages about the heroine and what she was trying to do. Her manifesto in the beginning smacks of "white feminism" and even though I wouldn't call it racist, it definitely feels tone deaf and misinformed. I liked the attempt at making this a more empowered version of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY... it just didn't succeed.

There's nothing objectively wrong with this book. I just feel like it gives off too many mixed signals and I don't really like how it tries to demonstrate feminism through objectification and the purity myth.

2 stars
Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
965 reviews1,249 followers
December 17, 2013
"Everything was spinning around me and I-I was spinning too, delirious with want. Like a woman drowning in the middle of a stormy sea, in desperate need of a life raft. That sea was Adam Drake and he was pulling me adrift, stranding me in some strange and forgotten land."

I am really digging on what seems to be a new trend in romance...geeks. Nerds. Intelligent strong women. The days of helpless girls waiting for their Prince Charming to rescue them is so last year. *winks* I like sassy girls. Girls who are intelligent, stand up for themselves and have strength of character. That's why I really enjoyed Mia Strong (her name says it all) While her independence and strength was a positive, it was also at the same time a flaw as well. Yes, she was a take charge girl, but it came from an abuse experience from her past that scarred her and caused her to close herself off from men, dating, and the possibility of love. She also has issues with her father abandoning her and her mother, or as she likes to call him, the Biological Sperm Donor. These two things have caused her to reach the ripe old age of twenty-two still a virgin and with virtually no experience with men. She decides to take charge of her life and auction off her virginity to the highest bidder.

This will kill two birds with one stone: Help pay for medical school and help her mother save her home that she's in danger of losing due to her long illness with cancer.

Enter Adam Drake, highest bidder.

He is one sexy guy with some secret reasons for bidding on Mia. I guessed this pretty early on and was right but the unveiling of his motivations still held my interest. Right from the start you can tell he's a guy who likes control and getting his way. And right now, what he wants is Mia. When they meet, sparks fly and he is abrupt and blunt about his determination to have her. Despite her puzzling instant attraction to Adam, his forcefulness is a little disconcerting and she decides she wants to cut off all involvement with him. But Adam manages to get by her misgivings and they set on a path to ridding her of her virginity. They agree that after the deed is done, they will have no further contact with each other. But if he has anything to say about it, things will not go as planned.

They both are very similar in that they are pretty closed off to love, stubborn, and have communication problems. A lot of their issues are due to their inability to be open and honest with each other. I really enjoyed their connection though. They had a lot in common through their love of gaming and computers. They had many geek-tastic debates about games, computers, and Star Wars.

They both develop deeper feelings for each other pretty quickly but are unable to admit to them or try to make an attempt at a genuine relationship. As the story progresses, you see them gradually open up and their affection and their chemistry together is heartwarming. Their are both vulnerable yet strong individuals so their coming together is not an easy task. They were just sweet together.

He took my face between his hands, holding it still. He raised his head so he could look me in the eyes. "I can't promise that things will be perfect, Emilia. But I can promise you that I will never give this up. Because I don't think I knew how to live before you came into my life."

His eyes pinned mine down, dared me to look away. "Every minute I spent with you made me want a hundred minutes more."

I loved that this is a series that does NOT end in a cliffhanger. Rather, it's a happy ending that's left open to the need to resolve some of their issues. Not only that, but the next book will be in Adam's POV and it will NOT be the same story as book 1 told by him. It's the continuation of their story. I'm not too crazy about reading the same story twice despite my love of the male POV. It tends to be a bit repetitive in my opinion. Overall, it was a great emotional read that was sexy, had intriguing, memorable characters, and a story that is fresh and well written. I easily have this a 4 star rating with no hesitation over the need to half-star it. It's a good solidly enjoyable read.

Geek gamer/blogger Virgin + Millionaire CEO of his own gaming company and software prodigy=
Fresh, quirky story with memorable characters ♥︎♥︎♥︎
Profile Image for Willow Madison.
Author 10 books257 followers
June 29, 2015
Thank Gawd that's over! If this wasn't for a reading challenge, I would've DNF'd this one. I got through it, barely, by skimming from 69% on. Why do I remember the 69% so precisely? That'd be when we finally get some real action between the MCs, that's why!

I normally wouldn't post spoilers, but frankly feel that there are no real spoilers with this book. It's a tale of a 22 yr old virgin selling the privilege to her 'piece of skin' as she refers to it. There are no shocks or surprises in the book, although I think it was the intention that there be some twists. It was all just too predictable and bah-uh-oring for me!!! I was able to guess the plot 'twists' from the very beginning.

I'm giving 2 ** because it's not poorly written and I happen to think highly of World of Warcraft (both MCs are into online gaming). The reference to gaming was the only saving grace IMHO. The rest felt juvenile and not in a good juvie-humor-kinda way ;)
Profile Image for Wil Loves Books!.
1,166 reviews478 followers
May 21, 2017
4.5 stars!!!

This is another book/series I've owned for years but had never read. Simply put, I loved it. It was a little predictable but it kept me hooked the entire time. Loved both the hero and heroine. Will definitely jumped right into book 2. The audio book is also fantastic. Super recommend!!!
Profile Image for NAT.orious reads ☾.
871 reviews360 followers
October 14, 2019
1.5 bored ★✬✩✩✩
This book is for you if… somebody should ever hold a gun to your head and force you to read it.

I'm very happy I could finally click on the "I am finished" button. This sure af was a boring plot. The blurb sounded tempting and I thought I was in for a wild ride. Ha. Ha. HA. Well, I wasn't.

⇝Promise of a strong feminist heroine was not fulfilled
The blurb and the beginning of the book promised a somewhat feminist heroine (which sure af is a rare thing in Romance novels). And it wasn't delivered.

⇝Where dat romance at?
I did not feel it at all. Both main characters were absolutely not relatable to me, neither where the other characters in the book. Mia was dull, naive and submissive (and not in the good way *smirk*) and Adam was an angry little kid with mommy issues. Nooo. Nope Nope. I don't get where the attraction should be coming from here.

⇝Boring - more boring - this plot
The plot was so boring. Seriously, I don't even know how I made it to the end of the book. Guess I am disciplined after all. A bit. My long commutes may have contributed here.

⇝Plot twists were more expected than my first period.
Also, I had major suspicions about stuff, and I was right with all of them. There was no bigger plot turn because I guessed them all beforehand.

➺What’s happening.
Mia is not a fan of the widely accepted notion that the virginity of a woman relates to her purity. Because she wants to break that stigma, she auctions off her virginity to the highest bidder (See, this could have been g-r-e-a-t). The deal is simple: one night, no contact after. As she meets the guy who bought her "purity", she has big doubts about whether going through is such a good idea. Adam, game empire millionaire, is a stubborn and bossy man who acts like a neanderthal every time things don't go his way. So obviously, he ignores all of Mia's wishes and keeps demanding another night, and another, and another... There is no rape whatsoever on his part, but I don't feel like he grasped that consent is also a thing when not about to push your naked genitals onto somebody.

I will not put further time and energy into this review. Today is a holiday in Germany and the weather is gorgeous. My running shoes are calling and I must go. Cheerio.

Writing Quality + ease of reading = 2*

pace = 1* (If the author would have gone much slower, the plot would have unravelled backwards.)

plot development = 0* (As I said: fairly predictable.)

characters = 1*

enjoyability = 2*

insightfulness = 1* (Learned yet again: Romance and consent are not friends)
Profile Image for Rachael*Caribbean*girl*bibliophile.
1,671 reviews357 followers
March 3, 2020
Spoilers ahead 1.5*

Well this is what regret looks like, thankfully I only wasted my time not my money!

I don't think I've ever read a "sold in auction" romance and when I started this one i didn't know what it was about so colour me surprised
So the h needs money to help with her mom's medical bills and to pay for herself to go to college. She's a gamer and blogger and so with her best friend's assistance she sets up an auction to sell her virginity.
Now the set up wasn't bad, I liked that they did research, background checks, bloodwork and had papers drawn up but from the moment the male lead was introduced I got itchy. Reading on I realized I really should've quit while I was ahead.
Anyway so they narrow it down to 2 prospects with the H being chosen
They meet, they're attracted, a bit of hemming and hawing but they eventually agree to a one night thing with no contact after

1) The h is an aspiring med student, she plans to be an oncologist yet she doesn't know where St. Lucia is.....I mean c'mon man!!! For real....she came across as a ditzy, naive, idiot and annoyed me from the moment she met him

2) We get the impression that the h/H have only just met,BUT see he lied. She's been chatting with a guy in the game, someone she thought she'd had a crush on and it tu rns out that he was the H. Ok cool, so he entered the auction because he didn't like what she was about to do but if my timeline is correct they'd been chatting for a year but he'd been celibate for 8 months.....my math tells me he'd been having sex after having "met" the h while she is a virgin! That pissed me off

3) A woman he once had sex with, she actually took his virginity I think, comes to dinner and she's all over him amd he's oblivious. When the h asks he doesn't see anything wrong with the woman's behavior now the mcs weren't together but it's another nail in his coffin for me

4) So they go off to have sex and are interrupted by his phone, nobody's dying but it's business so they stop. They're making out and she has to bargain to get him to switch his phone off.....I get it he's a busy bee but where the hell is the chemistry??? Since when is someone so passionate after the fmc but he's got time to be interrupted by phone calls that were not life or death???

5) The H was a liar and vaguely manipulative, he annoyed me endlessly

6) This author puts quite a bit of emphasis on the "gay" bestfriend who doesn't act gay but also has another gay friend who set up the bank info for her......we get it ok there are gay people in this book

7) After enduring boring pages after pages, endless internal monologue, a weak and senseless h, a slimy and sleazy H and lacklustre sexy times(a grave insult) this thing ends abruptly!!!! Not only that it continues on into more than 1 other book!!!! Am how about no!

There're quite a bit more with his deceit about her mom, letting her think something was going on with the ex and her blubbering and forgiving all like an idiot but it's just not worth it.

This didn't work for ME at all, I think it was well worth the price
Profile Image for Lindsay.
2,202 reviews505 followers
April 14, 2014

This was a fun book to get me through a power outage. I was looking for something light to read since there was nothing else to do, and I couldn’t lose hours of time on GR, so I decided to give this a shot.

From page one, I was hooked. The Manifesto written by Mia was funny and insightful to the historical significance to a woman’s virginity. And her solution was quite…unusual. I can’t say I would use her solution, but it definitely set up one crazy (funny) romance.

But our Mia wasn’t all bubblegum and video games. She also had traumatic events in her past as well as family and school drama. But she had some great friends that stood by her. I would love to know more about her friend Persephone and I would like to see Heath find someone.

I really did enjoy every second of Mia and Adam’s story. I’ll admit that I saw the little twist(s) with Adam coming early on, but I can’t complain because the fallout was spectacular. My one complaint actually comes after the book ends. At the end, there is an afterword from the author and down at the bottom is a note that says “Mia and Adam’s story continues in Books 2 & 3 of the Gaming the System series.” Now…this dismayed me greatly. I was more than satisfied with the current ending. I don’t feel that there’s a need to tell more of their story. But I’ll reserve complete judgment until I read the blurbs of the other books. If Mia and Adam are just secondary characters in someone else’s story, I’m good with that. But I really don’t think they need 2 more books for their HEA. As far as I’m concerned, they already got it.

*I received an advanced copy from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Profile Image for Writer.
260 reviews15 followers
December 16, 2013


The sheer beauty of this book knows no bounds, it is for me, one of the best novels written, yet by a newbie! It is a roller coaster precious emotions that while reading carry you along, you feel the energy and electricity sizzles between Adam and Mia.

This story is achingly beautiful that it followed me around, the memory of Adam and Mia stayed with me, it haunts me long after I've put the book down. Ms.Aubrey has the makings of a master story teller, she knows her characters very well and she describes Mia's inner turmoil that will gnaw at your heart, yet admire her for her inner strength, her wit and courage. Adam's change from hardened, cynical, workaholic into a man who finally realizes he loves and needs Mia, shows her how far he's willing to go to prove to her she's all he needs in his life. Every encounter of Adam and Mia is exquisite I find myself holding my breath at times, hot and intoxicating so tangible that I feel the heat rising up from my neck to my face.

This is so beautifully written, the characters are complex, the story is sensual as it is unique, the words are poignantly sentimental, hauntingly beautiful. So beautiful it leaves a lingering impression in your memory.

One memorable passage:

"I took the brief time away from him to contemplate us in silence, Every time I was in his presence, that rushing force of nature tore at me, made me want to release my convictions and be blown away by him, whisked away into the unknown by gale force winds from the grounding bedrock to which I clung."
Profile Image for Katerina.
791 reviews266 followers
July 29, 2017
I absolutely hated this book.

The premise is that homegirl/gamer girl/wannabe doc wants to auction off her virginity 'cause she's in need of some cash pronto, and the buyer (our hero/tech prodigy/secretly games with her with his alter-ego identity) doesn't collect and keeps delaying.

The plot was very much, they get close, he pulls away physically and emotionally, she threatens to end it and confronts him, they make up, repeat. At last she chases him, and it ends very abruptly. Zero chemistry translated onto the page. A large part of this book had no substance but felt like repetition.

From start to finish, Adam lied, played games, repetitively guilt tripped Mia and was completely closed off. He can't seem to take what he dishes out; he was a workaholic, had a saviour complex, was boring, had a close quarter relationship with an ex, yet somehow seemed to nitpick all of Mia's shortcomings. Personally with him, I kept seeing flaw, flaw, flaw, so there weren't very many redeeming qualities apart from he isn't your typical f*ckboy, and secretly (but very manipulatively) helps her out.

Even so, problem was, he's known/talked to her for over a year - gaming wise through virtual profiles. Then, after he felt close to her, he collected private information finding out who she was for the one entire year i.e. facial profile/ personal info/ history etc. But yet has only been celibate for 8 months. Shoot me sideways, but it takes a particular man for me to change my consensus and I like knowing that from the moment of "meeting" there's no one else. Practically I realise he didn't know her, but at the same time he did (text conversations + he knew how she looked). And she's a virgin so, if she wasn't getting any since she "met" him, I didn't want him to be. I'm fussy like that.

From start to finish, Mia came across very thick for a woman studying to be a doctor. Love, if you honestly don't know St. Lucia exists, you have no business studying medicine. Her intelligence astounded me, because she had none.

The sex scenes made me grimace. They felt very contrived.

She also had massive relationship reservations because of daddy issues. And in the words of Tony Stark: That's what happens. Dad's leave. No need to be a pussy about it.

Also there's other things that annoyed me. The author would say simple things like: “Heath’d had a gay banker friend set up an account in the Cayman Islands for me.”

I don't know, it's just inane to mention he's a "gay" banker friend. The sexual orientation is irrelevant when referring to someone. The defining characteristic of being gay, to me, felt senseless.

So I wasn't pleased.

Profile Image for Trashy Katie.
205 reviews1 follower
May 18, 2016
The large amounts of slut shaming and scorn heaped on sex work in this book turned it into a hate read for me. I was interested in this book because the heroine was owning her sexuality and realized the absurdity people place on virginity. Sadly the heroine was guilted and shamed at every turn for her attitude. Even by herself. The hero's dishonestly and high handedness were also major turn-offs.
Profile Image for Mandi.
2,306 reviews724 followers
December 6, 2013
This review has some spoilers.

I had to laugh at myself a bit as I read this book. The blurb threw me off a little. Very rich man bids for innocent heroine’s virginity so she can go to medical school and help her mother who has cancer. Selling your virginity for that? Very noble. (and yes, slight eye roll). But I had heard some good twitter buzz about this one so I decided to try it.

I immediately liked Mia. She posts this virgin manifesto on her popular gaming blog that comes about because:

The auction idea had spawned from that necessity, despite the “high ideals” of the Virginity Manifesto. I honestly had posted it to open the conversation on reclaiming the age-old tradition of profiting from a woman’s purity. And yes, I’d wanted to make a statement about the value of my virginity being used for my own gain. I firmly believed in those ideals but my number one motivation was money, security.

I actually could have done without the ill mother and school bills. But on we go. Her best friend Heath narrows down the bidding to one particular man. His name is Adam Drake. He is a self made rich guy, having started a software company at a young age. He actually makes the computer games that Mia loves so much so Heath thinks they will have much in common. They meet in a conference room to discuss the contract and the money and how things will proceed the night of the big debauchery. It was all very cold and a little suspenseful and I really started to get into it. Adam was mysterious and powerful and I wanted to know why he was going to spend almost a million dollars on a virgin. I couldn’t wait to see what this million dollar cock could do!

So he flies her to Amsterdam so this transfer of money for sex is legal and the big night arrives. I was excited, ignoring laundry and pets and various other household chores. And then….then…..NOTHING HAPPENS. His phone rings and he has to work and then the next day they fly home. Wait, what? So then Adam plans another night for a week later and guess what? Yeah – he puts it off again. I was denied by ‘hot billionaire – stranger- virgin’ sex. Instead they get to know each other. We learn Mia was sexually abused in the past and Adam also has reasons in his past for not wanting to take advantage of Mia. Damn it. Also – Mia seemed very nonchalant about not completing this ‘transaction’ meaning she didn’t get paid. I expected her to be more worried about the money.

We don’t get sex for a very long time, and then when it actually happens, honestly it was not climatic. It just kind of happens and then Adam has to go to work. His working creates conflict, and other stuff creates conflict and he wants a relationship but Mia is scared of commitment.

Look, this isn’t a bad book by any means. I know I just complained a lot but for the most part I was pretty into it. Well, at least the first half. I like Mia. I liked Adam at first but I lost interest in him towards the end. I liked that he is a nicer billionaire, and more down to earth. But I wanted to really get to know him better and that was a little lost on me.

Maybe if I didn’t have so much anticipation for the hot deflowering of Mia, I would have been more satisfied. So maybe if you read it now and know it doesn’t come right away, you can relax and enjoy it more.

This book ends with a HEA but the next book also features this couple.

Rating: C-ish
Profile Image for Kat Montemayor.
Author 9 books225 followers
November 30, 2015
There were two reasons why I picked this book up. The premise sounded interesting and it was free. What kept me reading was the quick-paced plot and the easy-flowing writing style.

4.5/5 stars. It was like Fifty Shades of Grey meets Pretty Woman, with some Ready Player One thrown in.

Mia, a twenty-two-year old geeky gamer decides to auction off her V-card to the highest bidder. She does so online on her blog. She gives several pro-feminist reasons for doing so in her Virgin Manifesto. Men throughout history have fought and valued an unruptured hymen, so why shouldn't she profit from hers? The real reasons are financial and personal. Her mother has melanoma and is at risk of losing the ranch. She is afraid her mother might forego her melanoma treatments to try to save her bed and breakfast.

I figured out Adam's online identity quickly. Although he came across as a crude creep at their first meeting, it's obvious that he does truly care about Mia. In the agreement, they were to have one night together to do the deed, and no contact afterward. But one night turns into several weeks. Mia and Adam are both developing feelings for each other but their respective and substantial emotional baggage prevents them from discussing it. This is what drove me crazy about Mia.

This book is number one in a series and I am definitely hooked. I plan on reading the other two books in early 2016.
Profile Image for Jessica Brandon.
202 reviews12 followers
December 6, 2013
At Any Price
Brenna Aubrey

This ARC was given by Silver Griffon Associates via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I can honestly say I was not thrilled to hear this book was about gaming, but it spiked my interest enough to give it a shot! NEVER judge a book by its cover! My husband is an avid gamer, so I am very familiar with the gaming world and thought to myself how could this make for a good romance novel? Not only is it a great romance novel, but it is sexy as Hell.
Adam and Emilia (Mia) have great chemistry together.

Emilia Strong is not the poor, weak victim that you want to slap sense into during the entire novel. She was rejected by her own father before she was even born,but grew up in a loving home with her mother. Mia is a brilliant college student awaiting graduation and the chance to retake her MCAT to begin her premed dream. She failed the last time because her mom was fighting cancer. Now that her mom is better, she faces losing their home and business. Mia decides to type up a manifesto on her gaming blog and auctions off her virginity to the highest bidder. Mia sees this as her mom's only chance to save the house.

Adam Drake wins the auction and has his own reasons for wanting to be the winner of Mia's auction. Little does he know how empty his very successful life has become and is constantly trying to find ways to extend their one night contract.

"Every minute I spent with you made me want a hundred minutes more."-Adam

He and Mia are happy with their "no dating" policy in order to achieve their dreams. However, they find they both share way more things in common and won't give up control. This is a very well written novel that does NOT leave you hanging for dear life on the side of a mountain. However, there is a book #2 and #3 coming out soon. I will be waiting anxiously to find out about more of Adam and Mia. Hopefully the next one will be in Adam's POV.
Profile Image for Selly - Leggere Romanticamente.
1,167 reviews258 followers
May 15, 2018
Sul blog trovate la mia recensione della serie Manipolare il Sistema Vol. 1 / 2 / 3 di Brenna Aubrey qui --> http://www.leggereromanticamente.com/...

Il primo volume della serie inizia esattamente quando la protagonista femminile, una seguita blogger di videogiochi, annuncia di voler mettere all'asta la propria verginità al miglior offerente.
Interessante punto di vista femminista quello del suo manifesto, ma, come rivelato dalla trama, dietro a questa decisione estrema si celano ragioni ben più serie.
Mia è una studentessa di ventidue anni senza alcuna esperienza e per nulla interessata ad una relazione, è decisa ad andare fino in fondo con la sua asta e spera di chiudere la vicenda nel minor tempo possibile.
Adam Drake, il vincitore dell'asta, selezionato e verificato dal migliore amico gay di Mia, è un nerd come lei, ma uno di quei nerd super sexy e ricchi sfondati.
Io ho un debole per questo tipo di personaggi, Adam è un protagonista che mi ha conquistata subito, ma ha anche un paio di difetti che non posso nascondervi: è un lavoratore stacanovista e pure maniaco del controllo! Preparatevi quindi a vedere la rabbia di Mia in diverse occasioni, sebbene a me Adam sia piaciuto tanto lo stesso: l'ho trovato così dolce, tenero e premuroso!
Il primo incontro tra i due protagonisti promette bene, frecciatine e attrazione sono nell'aria e il tutto lascia immaginare con facilità che le cose andranno in tutt'altro modo di come Mia aveva sperato inizialmente. La tensione sessuale è una costante per gran parte del romanzo e un crescendo pagina dopo pagina, insieme ai sentimenti ed alle emozioni dei due protagonisti.
A Ogni Costo è scritto interamente dal punto di vista di Mia, si vive così tutta la sua frustrazione in prima persona, quel tipo di frustrazione che ti invoglia a proseguire con la lettura fino al momento fatidico!
Questo primo romanzo è sicuramente il più soft dei tre, quello dedicato all'inizio della relazione di Mia e Adam ed alla nascita dei loro intensi sentimenti, è presente qualche rivelazione facilmente intuibile, ma a me è piaciuto lo stesso davvero tanto!
Non avevo mai letto nulla di Brenna Aubrey, ma il suo stile è veramente scorrevole ed accattivante, è riuscita con facilità a farmi affezionare ai suoi due protagonisti e a rapirmi completamente dalla prima all'ultima pagina, ed intendo dell'intera trilogia visto che l'ho letta tutta d'un fiato! Mi sono piaciuti molto i dialoghi tra i protagonisti e i vari riferimenti nerd, probabilmente perché lo sono un po' anche io! ;)
Per me è una lettura assolutamente consigliata!
Profile Image for Carol.
320 reviews564 followers
February 6, 2017
Reread: February 6, 2017
Reread Rating: 4/5 stars

OHMYGOD! I love rereading my favorite books because I get to experience the love for the characters and the plot. And this one was just great. I did notice the flaws that other readers have pointed out. For example, the predictability of the plot, but I didn't care about that because the story is so strong that I can look past that. Also, I love how Brenna Aubrey just makes us fall in love with both Mia and Adam. This reminded me why I love this series so much. I also want to get into playing Dragon Age because of this book. I am excited/scared of rereading the other two books because I know they are going to break me! But I am willing to go through the heartbreak because like I said I love Mia and Adam. Please read this if you are into New Adult because it is just wonderful.


Initially Read: January 10, 2015
Initial Rating: 4/5 stars

I really liked this book it was the perfect read for me at this point since I haven't read a New Adult novel in quite sometime it seems. It was well written, the drama was on point, and it wasn't overbearing with sex scenes. I did have some issues with the book though. Our main character Emilia was bad ass and geeky but was really stubborn and hard headed, which tended to get annoying in some parts of the story. Adam, Emilia's love interest, was pure perfection, yes he is flawed as well but overall I felt like he had a better head on his shoulders than Emilia. Like any other NA book, these two characters have some pretty heavy baggage. Emilia has been scared for life between two separate instances in her life that make her choose to live the single life for the rest of her life and not get attached romantically. Adam, in the other hand, came from a very destroyed home environment, his dad died early on in Adam's life which cause his mom to turn to alcohol and become an alcoholic. These two characters have troubled past but the story is more of putting your past behind you and moving forward with what you have now. Like I said, I really enjoyed this book that I bought the next two in the Gaming the System series. Definitely a must read for NA readers!
Profile Image for Misty.
796 reviews1,231 followers
December 29, 2018
Brenna stole all my sleeps. FOR DAYS.
I couldn't help but love these characters, and love watching them come together.

(I don't mean that last bit dirty, but...you know. That too. ;P )
4.5 Full review to come.
Profile Image for Coco.V.
50k reviews4 followers
Want to read
September 16, 2021
🎁 Books 1 & 2 in the Series are FREE on Amazon & on Apple iBooks today (9/16/2021)!🎁
Profile Image for Mrs Giggles.
138 reviews28 followers
January 21, 2014
Brenna Aubrey's At Any Price is, in many ways, the author's battle scar as well as pride and joy. You may have heard of her rejection of a traditional publishing contract because of the evil influence of authors that had gone indie (rumor has it, Courtney Milan was the dirtiest influence) - they help her realize how you can make more money going the indie route.

As a result, the grognards of the Absolute Write Water Cooler forum raised their heads out of their war bunker, pushing aside the "NO INDIES ALLOWED: WE SHOOT ON SIGHT" signs and barb wire fences, to accuse the author of lying and generally being all fifty thousand shades of shifty for turning up her nose at such a contract. The ensuing drama was quite entertaining, as crazy is always so delicious when one is watching from the sidelines with popcorn in hand.

Then, the author posted on her blog the profits from the early sales of this book, and it's a lot of money. The Absolute Write grognards retreated back to their war bunker to continue rehashing publishing rules and tips from 1999, while pretending that the whole thing never happened, just like Kindle, Smashwords, and other vile developments never happened. The indie scene high-five'd one another and cheered. Validation! See? Traditional publishing is the scum of the earth, the indie scene is where all the cool people are, and if you aren't one of the indie supporters out there, you are too school for cool, GTFO.

So, so entertaining.

That's not the reason why I bought this book, though. I bought it because the heroine is a gamer, the hero makes MMORPGs, and the synopsis is just adorable in its use of gaming jargon to describe a plot that is, while commonly found in historical romances, rarely present in contemporary new adult stories. I like games. I'm a big Dragon Age and Mass Effect stan, and I have fun role-playing in Guild Wars and, to a lesser extent, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. I just can't get into the first person shooter format, as my aim is horrendous, but I love watching the cutscenes on YouTube. And, don't hate me, I thought the new Dante from DmC: Devil May Cry isn't that bad. Old Dante is always cooler, but as a stand alone character, he's not bad. Could use more clever lines, though.

Anyway. I'm always keen on finding romance stories that manage to combine the good and bad quirks of the gaming world.

Emilia "Mia" Strong is offering her virginity to the highest bidder. She runs a popular gaming blog, and being that she is a female gamer that isn't writing for Kotaku, she is somewhat of a novelty in the scene. However, Mia in real life is a different story. Her mother has cancer, and the family ranch-cum-B&B was mortgaged to pay for the medical treatment. Mia knows that the money is running out. Also, her grades is slipping, and she would be in danger of flunking if she doesn't get her act together. To solve the money issue, she decides to offer her maidenhead online to a bloke with the dough. I don't know what would happen if a lesbian ends up being the highest bidder, but we all know there are no lesbians in romance novels, only gay best friends, so there's that.

The highest bidder is Adam Drake, a self-made billionaire who struck gold with his MMORPG game at the age of 17. I know he is fictitious because he has a flat stomach and he dresses up like he's ready to walk down a red carpet. He also has no weird habits, body odor, hygiene issues, or ten hard drives full of pornographic Japanese cartoons, so yes, he's definitely not from this world. He soon takes Mia to Amsterdam, where it's okay to pay for sex, and from then on, it's love. Or is it?

There are several good books in here, but they are all chopped up before they really come to life. There is a really good story here, about a female gamer deliberately selling her maidenhead as some kind of subversion on the unrealistic and even unreasonable value many cultures have placed on a woman's virginity, but that is quickly squashed as Mia admits that this stance of hers is a front for the fact that she just wants to sell herself for money. The justification - her mother is sick, and you don't want to see the poor mother die, do you? - is there, so we are not allowed to think bad things about her, so there.

Still, it could have been an interesting tale, then, of a traditional historical plot transported to modern days. It is just as well as the author throws away the initial interesting premise, as there are many elements here that would make the whole thing seem like an exercise of hypocrisy. Mia gives some predictable, even formulaic, babble about bikini chainmails and damsels in distress to show that she is some kind of feminist gamer, but just look at this story. She is rescued from her money problems by hooking up with a billionaire. This isn't exactly a spotlight on the empowered woman.

But then the author morphs the story into a standard new adult fare. Despite the fact that Adam has... softer... reasons to bid on Mia, he treats her like crap for no reason in their initial face-to-face meeting. Maybe it's because every other new adult hero has to think of all women as whores, and it's the heroine's job to prove to him that she is the exception of the "Whores, Whores Everywhere!" rule? I don't know. They just argue. Mia doesn't have much of a ground to stand on - she is, technically, a whore in this instance, so she has no right to feel offended.

Then again, Mia is so full of it. She tells Adam that there will be no chit-chat, no blowjobs, just get in there and get out. However, she is soon trying to pry every single detail of his personal life from him. Even more bewilderingly, all those issues about her falling grades and mother's financial problems take a backseat once Mia is obsessed with Adam. Once they reach Amsterdam, the story becomes a very, very familiar new adult fare, one where everyone has issues, the amount of baggage a character has is passed off as the entirety of his or her personality, and falling in love means acting melodramatically in the battle to see who has the biggest woe-is-me story in the land.

And then, I realize that this story will be continued for two more books. I don't think there is much here to warrant prolonging the formulaic fare for two more books, but what do I know. That's what everyone is doing these days, so that is what the author will do as well. And yes, the second book is told from the hero's point of view. If it's the same story narrated from Adam's point of view, then we have officially entered cliché territory here.

The end result of this mess is the story feeling way too contrived for its own good. The unusual setting ends up being an obvious gimmick to get the hero and heroine hooked up. The gaming culture is just superficially mentioned, and I never get the impression that Mia is genuinely into games. The story starts out being humorous and wry, but quickly switches gears to angst-laden melodrama marathon. I get mood whiplash. It doesn't help that the baggage is standard young adult cliché and there isn't anything in the author's treatment of the now overused "abuse, addiction, and other fashionable issues of beautiful emo people" formula that make me sit up and go, "Okay, so that's not tired and boring."

The author has a nice sense of humor, which makes the story's melodramatic dip into formulaic young adult trilogy territory all the more disappointing. The quips and one-liners work, while the more "emotional" moments make me chuckle at the wrong moments, especially the heroine starts catching her breath and gasping like someone has forced her to choke on a goldfish every time she realizes how yet damaged the hero is.

At any rate, the cover and the drama caused by this title are all far more interesting than the story itself. It's just another standard "I'm abused! You're harassed! We're all so tormented! But we're hot and we're sexy, all the better to pout at the world!" first book of a trilogy, one of the many in the market at the moment. It wins some cookie points from me, however, for having less pointless misogyny and more actual coherent and readable narrative.

This may sound like backhanded compliment, but it's not. In a market where many Sylvia Day and Jamie McGuire wannabes put up the stories they wrote in one week, most of them written in a language that bears only slight resemblance to the English language as well as containing gasoline-soaked "WHORES! ALL WOMEN ARE WHORES... except for our heroine, of course" screes, At Any Price is actually one of the more readable and occasionally genuinely funny stories. That is why it is all the more disappointing to find that this story is trying so hard to be just another generic new adult trauma porn entry.
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889 reviews35 followers
July 25, 2020
Heat Level: High (graphic sex scenes)


Warning: This does not follow the typical formula of romance series where each books follows a different couple. It is the same couple for 3 books then it looks like it covers 2 other couples then comes back to these two for book 6. This book does have a conclusion though so you could just read this one. If you feel you must. Also, spoilers.

This book was a 50 Shades of Grey knockoff which was a Twilight fanfiction and I just read Twilight and was bored, sooo... no. I'm feeling wordy, as I usually do when a book annoys me, so feel free to continue if you want, but I think my rating speaks for itself.

Let's start with the characters:

Our hero was Adam Drake, gamer billionaire. It was as if this author took Christian from 50 Shades and made him a gamer, but at the same time tried to make him seem boyish and sweet. The result was a bizarre combination of "nerdy" (you know, that typical nerd who is incredibly rich, handsome, and full of hard muscles) and douchebag. I was not a fan. His "dominating" personality would crop up at out of what felt like nowhere and was jarring. He would say things like "Don't forget that I'm in control here" in the middle of conversations. It was so weird. Just like they were red flags for Christian, they were also red flags for Adam. He was a manipulator and a liar. He only told her the truth when he was called out. He was so overly controlling and his back story for being so was barely touched upon. I feel like we were supposed to nod our heads and feel sorry for him, but it just didn't happen. He even used sex to attempt to control the heroine. It was gross. Just like Christian, he also had an older woman who deflowered him who was still in his life and felt like she had some kind of claim over him. Blech.

The heroine was Mia Strong, a gamer who blogs about it and is also studying to become a doctor. She is a "strong" female (get it?) who doesn't need anyone to save her and looks down on any female who does. I went back and forth from finding her character a bore to actively wanting to smack her. This is not a dual POV so we were stuck with her the whole time. I know she's supposed to be messed up because of a missing father and sexual assault she received from a boyfriend in high school. The sexual assault was mentioned and later not handled well in my opinion I feel like if it wasn't going to be handled well, there was no point in having it in the story. She was also overly dramatic where she picked fights just for the story to have some conflict, but there was no real basis for the drama.

Side Characters:
Heath (the gay BFF), two other girls who's names I can't remember because they are that unnecessary to the story, and Mia's mother are all characters who come in and out of the story when it's relevant to the plot. Oh and Lindsay, the older woman who deflowered Adam and now throws herself all over him inappropriately and he "doesn't notice." Ugh. None of them have any depth or really any purpose. They are so flat and are only there to draw up the legal papers (Heath), talk about how "yummy" Adam is (the two girls), and be a catalyst for why Mia wants to sell off her virginity in the first place (Mom). Oh and Lindsay was there to cause drama. It was so fucking boring.

I think none of this would have mattered if there was a decent plot and good writing. There was some press around this author because she supposedly turned down an offer with a publishing house to self-publish. There are a lot of ratings on this book for being self-published and at the time of my reading the average was 3.91. So there are people who enjoyed this, but I was not one of them obviously. The plot was a bore. The twists were so predictable that I knew what would happen in the first 5-10% of the story. The only new thing about it was that it had a gaming backdrop. As someone who plays video games casually I was able to understand the references made in it (I HATED the dialogue that was in-game chat. It was so clunky and while I don't play multi-player games like this, I'm pretty sure it just has a name of the character then the dialogue. Not "FallenOne says to you:" "You say to FallenOne:" I could be wrong, but I would hate it if a game did that.). It's actually the reason I held onto this one during my big purge of Kindle books. Other than that, the writing was not very good. It wasn't the worst. I was able to finish the book. The story had a way of jumping around that made it impossible to connect with anyone or feel the tension building between the two main characters. I think she was attempting a story of push and pull that would build up the sexual tension with a big climax at the end that would have us wondering "will they or won't they?" even though anyone who's ever read a romance novel knows they will. Unfortunately, it was a lot of unnecessary fights between the two of them and a struggle for power that was not sexy or romantic. It was lots of trying to control the other. She was loudly proclaiming her independence while subsequently giving in because he got her panties wet. Every time. I can't even count how many times I rolled my eyes!

The Sex:
They were written kind of like the romantic tension: not well. It's as if the author couldn't pick between graphic sex or trying to "keep it clean." The result was sex scenes that read like directions. Or maybe this was her first attempt at writing graphic sex scenes and she thought it would be super easy. They weren't sexy at all. I think what was missing was the emotions the characters were feeling. If you're going to write some smutty scenes, you gotta commit. It was obvious she wasn't committed. Also, the way Adam behaved after taking her virginity was really bad.

Overall, I didn't connect to the characters or feel the romance, which is the worst in a book about people and relationships. I have read a lot of romance. All kinds. Contemporary and historical, smutty and clean, good and bad. What I need most is to connect to the characters. If it's formulaic and unoriginal in regards to plot, that's not that big of a deal to me (in romance) if I fall in love with the characters. If there isn't enough character development, then make up for it with an original plot. At the very least, make me laugh! Unfortunately, this book did none of these things for me.

CAWPILE Score: 2.29
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