I hope everyone is doing well during this tumultuous time. It’s been tough trying to stay productive and positive, but I want you to know you can accomplish what you set out for on your own time. As for me, I decided I can either stare at the computer sipping coffee and chewing on cookies & cream Pocky, or I can read something worth reviewing.
To that endeavor, I took to Twitter to see what my smut-writing friends are currently talking about. Alexa Sommers had recently released a new series and it was already getting a lot of great reviews. So, I purchased a copy of “Level Up: Level One” and got comfy to read it. Needless to say, two hours later, I went ahead and purchased Levels Two, Three, Four, and pre-ordered Five. As this is a novella series not meant to be read as a stand-alone story, I’ll be writing this review on the series as a whole.
“Careful what you offer,” said Janie. “The DM is a sadistic bastard.”
“An SB DM?” asked Suzie. “Sorry Stacie, those are the right initials but in the wrong order.”
Let me say right off the bat that I loved the “Level Up” series for a number of reasons. Alexa is very clearly comfortable embracing her inner geek and melding it with playful sexuality in this hot tale. There’s so much to enjoy from a cast of characters with diverse personalities, comedic moments with eye-roll-inducing pop culture references, and no shortage of sexy encounters. And, as a Dungeon Master, I found it very easy to relate to the lead character. That might make me a bit biased, but I assure you it’s not a requirement for enjoying this series. Even if you’re not familiar with references, Alexa does pretty well to keep the reader informed of its source.
“Level Up” tells the story of a group of friends who have been meeting up for game night every week for a long time, and find themselves in a rut. Through a series of circumstances, Dillon Strands finds himself getting involved with a rather eccentric woman from his class with pink and green hair, Suzie Andrews. What follows is a series of events that string into a change in Dillon’s life that he never expected, nor thought possible. It may have begun innocently enough, but he learns of a hidden potential he possesses, yet was unaware he had until he meets his new Pathfinder group.
Dillon smiled. “I do believe the succubus is attempting to cast charm. My will is strong but I have no desire to resist.”
“Level One: Headshot” kicks things off by giving readers a proper introduction to the characters involved as well as establish a strong start to the main plot. The reader is given an idea of a mediocrity that many of us may come to expect, and then with one single, risky move throws it entirely for a loop. Dillon becomes increasingly popular with the members of his Pathfinder group, and eventually, to others outside that group as well. His schedule goes from humdrum to having a different sexual adventure on a near-daily basis.
“Well, regardless, thank you. No matter the terms society may place upon you, to me you are just a beautiful lady, worth knowing.”
“Awe, I bet you say that to all the girls that introduce themselves by sliding onto your cock,” she laughed.
It’s worth saying that one of its most defining features is that it is perfectly complex, in my opinion. What I mean by this is how it contains a healthy serving of smut, but doesn’t rely too much on erotic content. Many stories I read focus on erotic scenes as the bulk of the plot and leave little left to human interaction and experience that gives meaning to the intimacy. Alexa Sommers has managed to wonderfully illustrate the human connection we look for in those we care about, and that makes each character feel that much more real to the reader. Alexa prefers to write stories that take their time getting to the action so we may savor it all the more.
There’s romance, there are connections to a variety of people, there are events that make it feel more within our world, there’s conflict, opportunity, a life and a personality found in everyone. From the lead roles to the supporting ones, heck, even tertiary characters have a life you can learn more about. But most importantly, it’s a story about trauma and the difficult path towards healing. How we adjust, how to move on, and the people in our lives we open up to. My favorite stories are those that can still stand alone as great stories, even if every sex scene is removed.
Despite the eye-rolling and cringe-worthy comedy that makes “Level Up” a pleasant, light-hearted romance erotica, I whole-heartedly recommend you get the full collection and share some love with Alexa Sommers. If you’d like to get a copy, I’ll leave a link to “Level One”, as well as Alexa Sommer’s author page on Amazon where you can find the full collection. As of writing this, the full collection is available for print and Kindle, and I do believe it is currently being made as an audio story as we speak. Check her Twitter for more details, which will also be found below!