Book Review: Beer and Groping in Las Vegas by Angela Quarles
Review by Prof. Jenn

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Well this book has quite the interesting premise: a sexy romp, with nerd culture references? Just hearing that got me right on board. The problem with this book is: it’s not really either.

There are so many potentially great things about Beer and Groping that fall short: One, the premise of a sci-fi convention as the setting for an erotic romance. Sounds like fun, yeah? Except…it’s actually the day before the con, neither of our protagonists are there for it, and the con-action we get is so brief that “cameo” isn’t even the right word. Two, the main characters: She is a software developer, he is the owner of a microbrewery. Now that sounds interesting to me. The beer is even in the title. But beyond a quick taste of one of his beers, and a side comment that she’s a computer nerd, we don’t really get either as part of their characters. In fact, the character voices of both Mirjam and Riley are so similar that it’s difficult to discern who’s speaking, even when we’re in the POV of one or the other.

Three, (well, maybe we should count it as three and four?) the sex and the nerd culture. The sex is, well, it’s fine, marginally hot, and it’s actually quite refreshing to hear the characters talk about their feelings in a realistic way. Though again, Riley and Mirjam both sound so much the same. I found myself a bit ‘meh’ about the sex in general, especially because the mysterious Yente who set up the date sold it as the best sex ever with the person of each’s dreams. It could have been more exciting. Here’s the thing: we’re rushed past character development (and plot) to get into bed, so I guess I wanted that to be worth the fast-forward. If not, then I would have liked to have had the opportunity to get into the story more.

Finally, the nerd culture aspect: again, there are some lovely doors that, if they had just opened a tad more, would have been wonderful. Some examples: the George Takei cameo, Mirjam’s inner comment about wearing a red shirt to a blind date, Riley’s boxers, the backdrop of the hotel in general, and especially the mysterious pink-haired figure. All of these things felt both forced into, and rushed past the story. If we’re going to set the story in a Con, let’s actually do that. Especially the initial set-up of the date (for both Mirjam and Riley)–I didn’t buy that either of them would be that easy with how obviously Big-like psychic the whole set-up was. I needed both of them to be a little more… I dunno, scared? Nervous? Would either one need to be convinced a little more, at least until they meet and realize they know each other? And about the pink-haired figure–let’s spend more time with this, it’s a wonderful idea.

Bottom line: Great premise, falls short. Marginally sexy, a quick read. I lukewarmly recommend it.
~Prof. Jenn