Hardass City by Kiernan Kelly
Dare Vengeance is tall, gorgeous, rugged, and dangerous. Unfortunately, he’s also not real – he’s only a character Brad plays in a virtual reality game called “Hardass City.” He has no idea that the creators of the game stole the idea from another player until he meets Jeff, who plays Spike Hammer in the game.
When Jeff — who looks a lot like his smoking hot character — enlists Brad’s help in finding the proof Jeff needs to reclaim his property, Brad finds out that when the stakes are high, it’s not a game anymore.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When I realized Hardass City was a video game the characters in the story play, I wanted to read this immediately. Being a big video game fan, I love finding stories that incorporate those aspects with hot sex and gorgeous geeky men; perfect combination. To enjoy the story you have to suspend your disbelief a bit, but if you can do that then the entertainment factor is pretty high and worthwhile.
The story is told in dual settings. The first is Hardass City, the virtual reality video game with hunters, monsters, and all the usual fun accoutrements. Here Dare Vengeance and Spike Hammer are the best players in the game. The second setting is reality where Dare’s player Brad and Spike’s player Jeff meet up to save their beloved game. There is some dirty dealing going on with the execs of Hardass City and Brad and Jeff are going to get to the bottom of it.
The premise is fun and entertaining, though a real stretch for reality. The reasons for the changes in the video game and later actions by the CEOs are unrealistic. So you have to be willing to put that aside and enjoy the story for what it is. The final resolution as well makes some considerable leaps, ignoring previously offered information and just wraps everything up nicely despite the numerous unsolved problems. I admit I rolled my eyes a few times since I just couldn’t buy into any of the corporate espionage and CEO actions, but the story is a lot of fun to read so it’s worth ignoring the bumps. After that the back and forth between reality and the virtual reality is amusing and engrossing.
Kelly’s easy style of writing compliments the setting as the virtual reality world offered is very familiar and recognizable for gaming fans. It has all the classic elements that catch your eye and the competition that keeps players devoted. Jeff and Brad are also well crafted geeks that are determined to save the game they adore at almost all costs. They are sometimes indistinguishable from each other and this is only saved when Brad stutters so that is a nice added touch. Their stealthy movements in reality to save the game mirror their movements within the game, well without the blood and violence of course.
There are some moments of real humor, an area the author does very well, so this is one that fans will likely enjoy. It’s a nice twist on the games series (which tends to focus more on bdsm games) so throwing in a video game where the heroes get to save the day makes for a nice change. There are a few editing errors but nothing that should annoy readers. For the most part this is a fun, entertaining story with a good setting and makes geeks proud.
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