Playing for Love

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Pub Date 11 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 17 Mar 2022
HQ, HQ Digital

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‘LOVED it… Romantic, witty, insightful and engaging.’ Sue Moorcroft, Sunday Times bestselling author of A Home in the Sun

When Sam’s not working on her fledgling business, she spends her time secretly video-gaming. Her crush is famous gamer Blaze, and she’s thrilled when she’s teamed up with him in a virtual tournament.

But what Sam doesn’t know is that Blaze is the alter ego of Luke, her shy colleague – and he has a secret crush too.

Luke has a crush on Sam.
Sam has a crush on Blaze.

How will this game of love play out?

A fun, feel-good romance for fans of You’ve Got Mail, Helen Hoang, Jasmine Guillory and Lindsey Kelk!

‘Fabulous… A perfect lazy Sunday read… Such a treat!’ Sarah Bennett, bestselling author of the Mermaids Point series

‘A sweet, witty story… Delightful.’ Farah Heron, author of Accidentally Engaged

Readers LOVE Playing for Love!

Incredibly difficult to put down… I loved the characters so much. You need to read this book!’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘An adorable, uplifting romance… Easily one of the best romances I have read in the past year.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book!!!… I would wholeheartedly recommend.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I devoured this… A light-hearted fun read.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I can't express how much I loved this book… I devoured the story and finished it in a day.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘The banter was great. The relationships between the characters were even better. And the romance was fabulous. I couldn't have picked a better book.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Absolutely brilliant! This is the book I never knew I needed to read!’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘Absolutely loved this book! Stayed up way too late to finish it.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘Funny, uplifting, true to life, relatable, and cheerful. If you need cheering up this is the perfect book for you.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Will make you feel warm inside.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘LOVED it… Romantic, witty, insightful and engaging.’ Sue Moorcroft, Sunday Times bestselling author of A Home in the Sun

When Sam’s not working on her fledgling business, she spends her time secretly...

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ISBN 9780008511548

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Average rating from 284 members

Featured Reviews

Absolutely loved this book! Stayed up way too late to finish it because I was so invested.
The writing was so detailed. I felt like I was pulled into the story me the surroundings.
Sam and Luke’s relationship in the office felt so real. Sometimes things get messy and people make mistakes but having characters who actually thought about why the other made that mistake was very refreshing. Too often are characters just so stubborn.

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I think this is the first book I’ve read that involves gaming and YouTubers, and I really enjoyed it. Jeevani managed to seamlessly move from telling the stories of Luke and Sam to Bravura and Blaze without it being remotely confusing. The little hints at who they were in real life, the game play, the real life office scenario- it was all so well written and there was lovely variety in the story. It was brilliant to see them both do well professionally at work and within the gaming competition. A warm and fuzzy romance story at heart, surrounded by interesting diversions. Definitely give it a read, you won’t be disappointed.

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I read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This was definitely a different kind of romance. I liked both of the characters and their interactions in the game and out. Maybe Luke was just a bit easier to like at times? I feel like Sam probably should've told Blaze about the crazy woman who had put her in a headlock.
It was a different concept and hard to pull off, but it turned out pretty well. The business side of things for both Sam and Luke made the characters more realistic.
3.5 stars

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really loved this book. It was a really cute rom-com set in the world of online gaming.

Samadhi, or Sam for short, is a small business owner by day, and a gamer by night. She wins a spot in an online gaming tournament with her YouTube idol, the charismatic Blaze. Unbeknownst to her, Blaze is really Luke, the cute and shy IT nerd from her office building.

The story follows Sam and Luke’s adventures in the gaming tournament and their interactions in the office.

Sam loves Blaze, Luke loves Sam. Neither of them knows their online gaming partner is the other.

I found this to be a really endearing and heartwarming story of love and family. I never thought I’d be really into reading a book about online gaming but it had me pretty enthralled. Jeevani created a really lovely slow-burn romance set in a fun and interesting world of gaming and cosplay.

Rating: 4.5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ I’d definitely recommend reading this
Spice: 0/5 not that kind of book
Loved: the interactions between Blaze and Bravura during the online tournament
Disliked: not much to dislike here, I would have rated it higher if I clicked more with the world of gaming and YouTube, but I still loved it

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Sam is a girl trying to pursue her dream company and at the same building there’s this guy named Luke with his own already successful company that has had a crush on her since he saw her but she barely pays attention to him. What Sam doesn’t know is that Luke is this famous gamer youtuber ‘Blaze’ that she’s been watching for a long time that is totally the opposite of what Luke is in real life shy, lacking confidence and everything Blaze isn’t.
She sees a contest of a new game where anyone can join and whoever gets to the final gets to go the convention and play together in real life to win the prize $$$ when she realizes ‘Blaze’ is gonna be part of it she decides to join and finally have her opportunity to meet him and by destiny they get paired up and become a team.
During the day he helps her with work and at night they’re teammates without knowing.

I’m not really into gaming and watching streams but i know a lot of people enjoy it so i tried to give this book a chance and it was really entertaining i didn’t know what i was getting myself into but it was a cute, clean, easy romance to read, someone who’s probably into this kind of stuff would enjoy this book i give it 3.75/5 ⭐️ because i would’ve liked to see more of them outside of the office workspace.

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I absolutely flew through this book! It was so much fun and a slightly different read for me as I’m not massively into gaming, unless you count animal crossing! I really liked both Sam and Luke as protagonists and really enjoyed that it was dual POV. I thought that these characters worked really well together and having the online personas was an interesting twist to add in some drama. Both Luke and Sam also had other things going on in their lives - running and starting their own businesses which I also enjoyed as the focus wasn’t completely on the gaming element.

This was a fun, sweet story with really charming characters and a wholesome romance. Definitely recommend!

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Playing For Love is a cute workplace romance that has the extra layer of both our protagonists, Samadhi 'Sam' and Luke, having secondary identities besides the ones they present to each other. Sam has spent years listening to videos of popular game player, Blaze as a source of comfort since her mother died when she was young. When a contest arises that pairs novice game players with professionals to play a new game with money that could help Sam's start-up, she jumps at the opportunity. Wouldn't you know, she's paired with Blaze. While playing together, Sam realizes that Blaze isn't the same as the image she created in her head and wonders if the crush she has been harboring has been made-up by a fictitious version, whereas very real Luke is kind, unobviously attractive, and is interested in Sam. BUT LUKE IS BLAZE. As this love square unfolds, it becomes increasingly obviously that they aren't just playing a game, but Playing For Love.
I'm not a video game player myself, but from what I hear while my boyfriend plays Warzone and watching famous Youtubers, this book seems pretty spot on. I really enjoy Sam's character and admire her for pursuing her dreams and being passionate enough to explain to her family how her business honours her mother. For Sam's family, I think there is an underlying theme of grief, especially years later, that sends a positive message to remember to honour people we have lost.

Because there is the Sam>Blaze interest, Luke>Sam interest, and eventually Sam>Luke interest, I didn't feel a strong connection to Luke and Sam being together, despite loving how genuinely kind Luke is. I just felt that Luke was always second choice to Sam and it took Blaze being rude to open her eyes and remember there actually is someone into her. I would have like more dialogue establishing an authentic connection.

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I really loved this book. Although a senior citizen I enjoy computer games although never had the opportunity to participate in one’s like these but was fascinated by the detail involved. A bit of romance thrown in certainly made it very enjoyable.

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Absolutely Brilliant!

This is the book I never knew I needed to read! Sam has been made redundant and is trying to start her own business and hunour her mother’s memory while Luke is running his own business in the day and is a YouTube legend at night. This book is full of friendship, humour and awkwardness.

I love the double persona both characters take on and the way they indulge in their alter ego. The supporting characters are genuine and funny too which makes it a lovely read. The game play isn’t so much to put off a non gamer but gives you enough of a thrill to keep you interested.

This book can definitely be devoured in a day. In fact I highly recommend making a bucket of tea and doing just that!

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This book was sweet, nerdy, and fun. Samadhi is taking a chance to bring her small business dreams, honoring her late mother, to life. She's been working out of a small business incubator and shopping her product around as much as she can. But she's hit a wall of rejections and hasn't had much luck with crowdfunding. Luke is another small business owner in the incubator - but one with a bit more experience and a double life as a professional gamer on YouTube.

Sam isn't at all interested in Luke as a potential relationship - but as they get to know each other through work she is grateful to him for his help. In person, Luke is a bit socially awkward and doesn't exude confidence - that is the exact opposite of his gaming persona. The gaming persona Sam has been following since she was a teenager.

The growth of the relationship between Sam and Luke was really sweet and very well done. Both Sam and Luke needed to grow and come out of their respective comfort zones in order to succeed in business and in their relationships. This is definitely a slow burn and a really sweet read.

I received it as an ARC from NetGalley, but these opinions are all my own.

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Lovely, cute story - I was keen to read about more diverse characters as an East Asian POC so immediately requested this book.

The main characters were likable and relatable - both felt like 'normal' people with 'normal' real-life struggles which was refreshing to read about. Not being a gamer myself, I was initially sceptical about the gaming element of the story and found it a little hard to believe that Sam could be so in love with Blaze, although this didn't ruin my enjoyment of the story.

I also really liked some of the side characters especially Niro and Pete, however felt that Bradley's story could have been explored further. I was expecting the author to develop on what his struggles were or flesh out his relationship with Luke a bit more but this did not happen. I also loved the scene between Sam and Thatha and wish we could have seen Aunty-Amma too.

Ultimately this was a fun read, and on top of that it was great to see more POC representation in fiction.

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I got so into this book! I’m not a gamer (unless you count an unhealthy addiction to the MarioKart app) but I have some basic knowledge of gaming and love a quirky, geeky romance full of anticipated drama - and this didn’t disappoint! It’s the kind of book that has you staying up until the wee hours reading when you know you have to be up early the next day. I was really struggling to put this one down as I got more and more drawn into the tangled web of Luke and Samadhi’s double lives and wanted to know how the big reveal would happen. That being said, the big reveal was somewhat less dramatic than I’d hoped, but I’m a sucker for drama in romance so maybe my hopes are too high!

I loved having both Luke’s and Sam’s perspectives and it was really heartwarming to see their relationship grow. I would have liked to have Niro’s character a bit more involved and fleshed out as she seemed very sidelined and there was perhaps a bit too much focus on the ins and outs of Sam’s business - although it’s great seeing intelligent, successful women in novels and I enjoyed the camaraderie between Sam and Flick at the panel, too!

All in all, I really enjoyed this book but was slightly disappointed by the somewhat anticlimactic reveal of Luke’s alter ego and the sedate ending.

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I loved this story. I loved both of the characters. I adored the side characters and how everything felt natural, the writing flowed, everything just clicked here.
Luke and Sam were amazing, beautiful characters.
I had fun with this light hearted romance.
The banter was great. The relationships between the characters were even better.
And the romance was fabulous.
I couldn't have picked a better book to get me out of this reading slump.

HQ Digital,
Thank You for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!
I will post my review closer to pub date.

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Thanks to Netgalley, the author & HQ Digital publishing for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I requested this book because I saw that the author is from Sri Lankan descent, like myself, and I had never seen a contemporary romance by an Sri Lankan author at all. I knew it would be interesting and I could hear my mother bringing it up over a cup of tea sometime like 'Don't you know Punchi's sister-in-law's cousin's daughter has written a book?'

I have to say that my heritage helped me to connect straight away with Sam, the main female character. I loved seeing the names 'Thatha' and Lokuamma' written in a book when I had only ever heard them spoken by my relatives. Although Sam is much younger than me and is interested in stuff I don't know much about, it was her pluckiness and family ties that really spoke to the immigrant and feminist in me.

Also, I totally understood Sam's completely illogical celebrity crush and how it messes with reality and her actual love-life (In my teens I was focussed on joining the FBI just so I could LOCK MULDER DOWN.

I adored geeky Luke as well - the meet cute is super cute, however, I thought the chemistry between the characters took a little too long to build. Friendship I could see - mad sexual energy, not so much. I know part of that is wrapped up in Sam's Blaze obsession, but I didn't see her attraction to Luke as a serious thing until close to the end.

That being said, the writing and character development is really good and I could really picture the video game scenes ... which is saying a lot because they last time I played a video game was Donkey Kong in the 80's. I liked how sexism in the gaming industry was highlighted because - yeesh! It is in every industry isn't it?

This is a really cute and funny romance that I really enjoyed.

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A heartwarming, clean romance novel with a love-square at the centre.

In the daytime, she's Samadhi, Just a normal girl with a normal life. But there's something about her that no one knows yet....

I'm a sucker for a love-square. Especially a love-square with a driven heroine who is more insecure than she looks and a dorky dude with a cool persona to hide behind, so this was the perfect book for me. Somebody should have warned me before I started reading this that I wouldn't be able to put it down.

Sam has been made redundant, and with her generous payoff she's trying her hand at entrepreneurship. The product is right but the advertising isn't. Enter Luke, a very dorky guy who likes her and knows all about this stuff. But Sam only has eyes for one person - Youtuber Blaze who she's just been paired with in a competition. AKA Luke's alter-ego. There's also a secondary story running thorough about Sam and her family, how they have dealt with their grief and the idea that you can only be successful with a paying job.

If I haven't made it clear already I loved this book. The tension was superb, the reveal wasn't melodramatic and all the characters felt like actual adults who didn't have romance at the centre of their lives but also had other problems and concerns. In the author's note the author says she isn't very into the gaming/Youtube world but she hits on some core issues/problems in the fandom, especially in its attitude towards women. There was a lot of thought behind why the characters involved with the online tournament were selected. These things would have been easy for the author to gloss over but I was glad to hear about the reasoning behind the choices.

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There is no greater love than geek love. Playing for Love is the story of Luke and Sam who share an office space but that’s not all they have in common because Luke has a secret alter ego in Blaze the a YouTube gamer who Sam has been following since she was a teenager and has an almighty crush on even though she’s never met him. So when she wins a competition to play a new game along side Blaze she can’t believe her luck and shy, bashful Luke doesn’t get a look in.
This was sooooo adorable, I loved it. Luke is so pure. The purest of the pure and I hated Sam a tiny bit for squishing his feelings under her handbag but then we wouldn’t have a plot if she had. So🤷‍♀️ 4.5 stars it’s tops.

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This was a such a cute, sweet romance. Both characters felt real and had struggles with confidence in their own ways which definitely is something i related to. I know nothing about the gamer world and thought i may find it boring but it wasn't. There was one point in the story i didn't like Luke but quickly i changed my mind. I couldn't quite give it 5 stars because the gamer plot i don't think was meant for me, but i think its unique in the romance world and great to see more representation in romance books.

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This book totally surprised me, it was so funny and charming and delightful. I have absolutely zero knowledge of the world of YouTube gaming so I wasn't sure if I might find that off-putting as its so central to the plot but it wasn't an issue at all. Everything was built around the characters, who I fell totally in love with, so their interests became my interests. And as a bonus it was fascinating to explore the ways in which we create personas for ourselves online and how those can be a place to be the version of ourselves we might be too afraid to be in real life.

The central romance is charming and cute, with both characters being a delight in different ways. A genuinely lovely romance read.

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This was a cute read. This story is about Sam and Luke. Sam and Luke work in the same office building. But, they also are gamers in their spare time. Sam develops a crush on a professional gamer Blaze. She is his gaming partner in an online gaming tournament. Through various chats she develops a crush but they only had a few chats between themselves so wish there was more character development there. Blaze happens to be Luke who works in the same office with her. So, I did like the gaming aspect of this book, I do like the mystery behind the profile theme. Not sure what you call that but I really like that theme in books. I really enjoyed this book just wish it went a little further with the character development but good solid read.

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Playing for Love
By Jeevani Charika

Video games. Love. Competition.

This was a wholesome two sided romance involving online feelings mixed with workplace friendship.
This book was a lovely way to start the year. It comes out on the 22nd of February and I highly reccomned getting your hands on a copy! I went into reading it knowing very little about the plot other than it being based around a gaming tournament and I'm glad that's all I knew. I loved watching our two main characters dance around each other, becoming workplace friends in real life and online team mates in a new game unbeknownst to each other. Playing for Love is so different to any other romance I've read, it's not steamy, but it's full of emotional exploration  for each of our main characters as they learn more about themselves while getting to know each other. Definitely worth a read!

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Massive thank you to Net Galley for allowing me to read and review this ARC.

When I read the first chapter I really wasn’t sure it was going to be my cup of tea. I’m definitely not a gamer and I know next to nothing about video games. That being said, I found this book incredibly difficult to put down.

It was incredibly well written and I loved the characters so much. I refused to stop reading for food…. Drink… sleep! I needed to see how the story ended.

I found some elements slightly predictable but it didn’t change the fact that it was a lovely story about two people who clearly deserved each other!

You need to read this book!

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I really enjoyed this book I just wish it was a little longer. I think that they should have interacted a bit more as their characters because without it, it just feels like a parasocial relationship. I understand that that is kind of the idea but I feel like a bit more interaction between them would make it more believable. I loved when they were just Luke and Sam though I do wish before the reveal that they would have hung out together besides just being at work.

I received a copy through netgalley.

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This is a 'new to me' author and based on this book, I will definitely be reading more by her. It has everything you could want, fashion, gaming, love and friendship. My inner geek was very happy indeed.

I was hooked from page 1 and grabbed every spare minute I had to read this book.

I love how the book gave the hero and heroine their own sub-stories as well, private issues they were dealing with that they could use the game to escape from, let's face it, dont we all have issues we'd love to escape from? Some people escape into books, some into crafts, Sam and Luke into gaming.

I dont often say books should be made into movies but this one (if done properly) would make an amazing movie!

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A very special book with interesting characters and a great romance plot. It also helped me see some positives to gaming! I never thought THAT would happen!

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Cute and fun read. I know nothing about gaming so found this an interesting concept too. I thought the characters could do with a little more depth but still found it made a really enjoyable read. Would have liked a little spice in a romance but a clean read for those that pfdfer otherwise.

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I loved this book!!! The characters were both so likeable and normal, and it was really interesting learning more about the semi-pro gaming world. The romance side was great, and you could see how the issues they had came about from normal situations rather than convoluted as some romance novels are. I also really appreciated that our heroine wasn’t some bubblegum blonde, but instead a normal woman like the rest of us. I would wholeheartedly recommend

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A quick, easy and enjoyable read that dealt with some really interesting issues and left me thinking a lot especially as I am a gamer. I really enjoyed it.

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An adorable, uplifting romance. The story raises some pertinent issues such as women in gaming, dealing with grief and the difficulties of running a start-up company, but all in a pretty light-hearted way. No surprises in how the plot pans out and the prose style is not Hemingway, but this is easily one of the best romances I have read in the past year.

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A romance that looks at gaming and grief and the gap between online and offline realities. I liked this a lot. The gaming scenes were well done (and better than the IRL scenes actually). The thing that I found hardest to suspend disbelief is wouldn’t the characters recognize each other’s voices? Still, a sweet low-heat geeky romance.
I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I liked this book more than I expected.
The YouTube gaming world is new and fascinating to me and I enjoyed it so much. The protagonists had depth and was likeable. Their story and problems were realistic. I especially loved the hero. He was adorable.
This is a clean romance and recommended.

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This book was so cute. If you're in a mood for a cute little romance book that'll make you feel warm inside, id recommend this book. I really enjoyed the two interactions been the MCs both in real life and online in. I thought the online games they had to play, added a fun element to the book and a bit of adventure. I'm happy I got approved to read this book :)

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I can't express how much I loved this book. I loved the aspects of females in gaming, start-up companies and handling grief. Sam is in love with a gamer pro who took her through some hard times. Meanwhile Luke has been into Sam since he first saw her. In real life he's shy and clumsy but his online presence is a whole different story.. I devoured the story and finished it in. a day. Although the spicy was at a minimum I truly enjoyed the whole book.

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When she isn’t busy building her fashion business, Samadhi ‘Sam’ Ranaweera turns to her other passion to de-stress: competitive late-night gaming (in secret, of course). She can’t believe her luck when she’s selected to play in a virtual tournament with notoriously elusive gamer Blaze.

Blaze is a little cocky and very self-assured – no surprises, given his huge online popularity – and Sam feels under pressure to impress him with her gameplay. But she has no idea that in real life, he’s just shy Luke Burneside, the awkward guy from her office.

As her crush intensifies with each game and she becomes obsessed with winning Blaze’s attention, will Sam lose her chance with the man right under her nose?

I like the characters in this book. They are relatable and actually nice. :) The rest of the family is also interesting. A light hearted fun book. Very enjoyable.

Thanks to the publisher for providing an arc.

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A great read.

Luke and Sam work in the same building. They both have their alter-egos online, not knowing who the other person actually is. When a gaming competition puts them on a team together, will they realise who has been in front of them all along?

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I'm a huge fan of Indo Anglo fiction, and I've read a couple of other books by Jeevani Charika, so was over the moon to be able to read Playing For Love.
Sam (Samadhi) is trying her hardest to make a success of her new start-up business, Shanthi Bags, with no support from her family. Because she hasn't told them. Instead, she's ploughed her savings into a small office within The Nest, and hopes her crowdfunding campaign works.
Luke's a nice bloke... Who happens to see the most beautiful woman ever, at his workplace, and hasn't a clue how to approach her. He's too shy. But, he can help her with her business, and then, maybe she's fall in love...
Unlike his alter-ego, Blaze, Youtube gaming star, Brash, confident, and always that little bit aloof. (But no one knows that Blaze is Luke.)
Who happens to be someone Sam has watched on Youtube for many years, admires. Maybe even has a fangirl crush on...
Then something happens that throws Sam and Luke together, but not in the way they ever expected.
I devoured this easy read in a couple of hours in one sitting. A light-hearted fun read, with a little family background to tug at the heartstrings, and a sweet, bumbling Luke, who you really want to succeed in his attempts to woo Sam.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ Digital for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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