Camp Rewind by Meghan O’Brien is a fabulous book that tackles serious issues while still being deliciously sexy. It’s so good that it even made it on my Top 10 Lesbian Books of 2016.
Alice Wu doesn’t particularly want to go to an adult summer camp, but she’ll try if it will get her therapist off her back. A year after her husband left, Alice is still in regular sessions to try and find a way to live with her social anxiety, and maybe Camp Rewind won’t be all bad. As much as she’d love to be able to muster the courage to have a fling, making a friend would be a win if she can manage to talk to any of the other campers. Lila seems nice and hasn’t given up on her, even though Alice has a hard time responding at first.
Rosa Salazar needs a break, and Camp Rewind is the perfect place to hide from her life and pretend to be “Lila” for a few days. The death threats and rape threats have largely died down since she was doxxed and a private sex tape went viral as retribution for daring to release a feminist critique of a popular video game, but it would be nice to spend a little time offline without living in fear of her inbox. Rosa is immediately taken by Alice, and their friendship quickly shifts to something more. Given the personal struggles that brought them there, can their camp romance come back with them to the real world?
Alice and Rosa were very well written and their arcs were outstanding. As someone who has experienced anxiety (although not to the same degree as Alice), I found myself relating quite a lot to her. I appreciated seeing how she was handling it with therapy and that we find out at the end of the book how much farther she’s come in her recovery. I couldn’t identify with Rosa quite as much because I’ve thankfully never had the swarming angry eye of that part of the internet turn its attention towards me, but I’ve read enough about it and even know someone who was targeted, so that felt relevant and rang true. Each woman has to grow and change a lot so that they can trust each other and the possibility of a relationship, and that was handled really well and leaves them in a believable place at the end of the book.
The Writing Style
Although Camp Rewind is just as sexy as you’d expect a Meghan O’Brien book to be, I actually think it is more of a contemporary romance than an erotic romance. The sex is fabulously written with lots of enthusiastic consent and a little more voyeurism than you’ll see in your typical lesfic, but I actually found the kissing scenes to be the hottest of all. The sexual tension between Alice and Rosa, especially leading up to them sleeping together, is delicious, even when they’re just making out on a picnic table.
Like I’ve mentioned above, Camp Rewind addresses some tough stuff and that’s what impressed me the most about it. I don’t expect to see mental illness or toxic masculinity tackled in a romance novel, and I wanted to cheer and high five Meghan O’Brien because we NEED more books like this. Watching the deluge of bullshit that happened around Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, and Brianna Wu was gut wrenching and I remember feeling helpless and afraid of the roiling hatred that was causing it. Reading Camp Rewind was empowering for me as a woman, a gamer and as a person who experiences anxiety.
Everything about this book worked for me. The characters, the sexytimes, the relevant themes. I didn’t think Meghan O’Brien would ever write a book I love more than The Night Off, and I’m delighted that she proved me wrong with Camp Rewind.
Not actually a con, but this might be difficult for someone to read if they’ve experienced online harassment.
I wholeheartedly recommend Camp Rewind. It’s sexy, it’s important, and it has a lot of heart to it. It’s one of my favourite books and I hope you love it as much as I did.
Excerpt from Camp Rewind by Meghan O’Brien
Rosa leapt out from behind the tree, scurrying back to the relative safety of the path. “Want to check out the lake? We can leave if anyone else has beaten us there.”
Alice trailed behind. “Are we allowed to go down to the water at night?”
“Nobody said we couldn’t.”Feeling somewhat bolder now that they’d established a two-sided conversation, Rosa planted her hands on her hips so she could watch Alice’s approach. “And we’re adults, right? What’s the point of being a grown-up if not to do whatever we want?”
“I’ve always been more of a follow-the-rules, exercise-caution kind of grown-up.”
“I’m most likely here to corrupt you, then.”Rosa pretended to curtsey, silly from the joint they’d shared. “Sent by the universe is my guess.”
Alice giggled, then promptly stumbled over a tree branch in her path. Rosa moved forward quickly, reaching out to catch Alice’s wrist before she could fall. Her hand automatically slid down to entangle with Alice’s, like they’d done this hundreds of times before. Rosa held her breath, worried that she’d just blown it, that she’d scared Alice away.
But Alice didn’t run. Instead, she tightened her fingers on Rosa’s and, chest rising and falling rapidly, whispered, “You lead.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781626397934
- Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Meghan O’Brien Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Camp Rewind by Meghan O’Brien. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.