Review: Constitution Check by Katherine McIntyre (2022)

Dungeons and Dating, Book #4

Reviews of previous books in Dungeons and Dating: Book #1, Book #2, Book #3

Heat Factor: Sex in an alley. Sex in a public bathroom stall. Eventually they even make it to a bed.

Character Chemistry: My trauma recognizes your trauma.

Plot: We said we’re keeping this casual and so we will but do we really want to?

Overall: There’s a very specific dynamic here where the characters are very up in their heads. If that’s a thing you like, then you’ll probably like this.

Kelly and Tabby both believe they can’t have a relationship. Kelly because she’s a serial monogamist whose last girlfriend was abusive—so Kelly really doesn’t want to jump into something new, out of fear that she’ll find herself in another similar situation. Tabby was bullied by her older brother for basically her entire childhood and adolescence; as a result, she buried parts of herself that were a source of scorn, and is convinced that no one will love her if they see all of her. Both Kelly and Tabby hide their insecurities under a veneer of swagger. And for both of them, through the course of the book, the swagger is challenged—Kelly because her abusive girlfriend has died and she’s processing a really complicated mix of grief and relief and Tabby because she tears her ACL and can no longer play roller derby (and therefore feels like she’s losing a community and part of her identity).

The dynamic in this book is basically: Kelly and Tabby are attracted to each other. They have casual sex. The casual sex becomes a regular thing. They agree that this will remain casual, and that once feelings get involved, it’s over. They hang out in ways that become increasingly supportive and domestic. And they both agonize repeatedly over their burgeoning feelings. I would say this book is ⅓ sex, ⅓ cute geeky domestic stuff (including gaming), and ⅓ internal agony due to low self-esteem.

I’ll be honest, the third (fifth) (twelfth) time that Tabby thought that of course Kelly wouldn’t like her if she let her geeky side out because no one else ever had, I was feeling a little irritated. But I can be honest in the fact that you don’t just have the insecure thought once and then move on. Rather, you have it over and over again every time something happens that triggers that insecurity. So while I found bits of the story mildly irritating, I can see how they were true to the characters and the kind of story that McIntyre is telling here.

If you’re interested in inclusive books that are heavy on geek culture, found family, and introspection—and also don’t mind when characters are working through some stuff—then this one is pretty good.

Buy Now: Amazon

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