Author: Santino Hassell


Blog Tour: Mature Content Review

June 2, 2017 Blog Tours, Reviews 0 ★★★★

Blog Tour: Mature Content ReviewMature Content (Cyberlove, #4) by Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell
Published by Megtino Press on June 2nd 2017
Pages: 218
Source: A Novel Take PR
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Overexposed (In Focus, #4), Daring Fate (Silver Tip Pack #1), Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1), Sunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2), First and First (Five Boroughs, #3), Interborough (Five Boroughs, #4)
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I received this book for free from A Novel Take PR in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My life plan is to be brutally honest all the way to the bank. Don't believe me? I run a popular YouTube channel called TrashyZane, and my claim to fame is oversharing about every aspect of my personal life. Sometimes while tipsy. Not everyone loves my style, but I have a long history of icing out people who can't handle me. I have no time for judgmental foolishness.
Except, apparently, when it comes to Beau Starr. His channel is the polar opposite of mine, and so is he. Wholesome, inspirational, and clean-cut. Everything about him should turn me off, but when we hook up following a confrontation at a convention, my world flips upside down. Not only does Beau Starr turn me on, he uses the exact combination of dirty talk and roughness needed to turn me out.
But we still hate each other. I think.


I shifted closer to him, and, like an invisible rope was pulling us together, he leaned into me, until I could feel his breath and the heat from his body. I cupped his face, rubbing my thumb over the corner of his lip, then closed the distance between us to press a soft kiss to his lips. I didn’t control this kiss, and neither did he. It was an equal give and take, a push and pull of our tongues, our breaths, as our hands grasped each other’s faces, hair, skin.

Every time with Zane had been a rush to get off, but this time, I wanted to explore his mouth, to enjoy the kiss without it being foreplay. It was the main attraction to moan into Zane’s mouth, to feel his soft, huffed breaths.

When I pulled away, I was dizzy, and Zane’s eyes were glazed, his lips wet and puffy. I was terrified at what I felt in that moment, how much I wanted to fall back into the kiss, to not worry about what anyone thought, or how Beau Starr would be forever changed if word got out he’d fallen for TrashyZane.

And in this car with Los Angeles spread out before us, I didn’t want to think about anything but the messy, long-haired boy who’d managed to loosen my tongue and just about every other part of me. “I kinda like you, Zane. A lot.”

His eyelids fell to half-mast. “I like you too, Beau. A lot.”


Mature Content was yet another fabulous book in this series. Unlike the other three, this one explores two YouTubers, which brings a whole new side to an internet romance. I loved learning more about this community. This was a steamy and intense romance. It’s a little different from the previous ones just because Beau and Zane absolutely can’t stand each other in the beginning. Anyway, this was a funny and clever book that was well written. As always, this series is filled with memorable characters, both main and supporting. You get so invested in the plot, characters, and romance that you can’t help but instantly fall in love with all of it. I’m not sure if it’s my favorite of the series, but it was still really great.

Beau is a character that I fell in love with back in Hard Wired. In that one, he was the main character Jesse’s cousin who is a big YouTube star who makes encouraging videos for the LGBTQ community. He’s a lovely guy, though his video personality doesn’t always reflect who he actually is. He chooses to talk more about the positives of the community, being gay, and things along those lines. But he never really discusses the negative side of the community and in his own life. Though he seems to have it all together on the outside, he’s actually keeping a secret about his past, which is what led him to start making videos in the first place. Beau definitely had his faults at times, like sometimes it did seem like he was slut shaming Zane. But the authors handled the situation in a well written and sensible manner in my opinion. He has his personal demons, but he’s still a great person at the end of the day.

On the other hand, Zane is a hot mess to say the least. He’s blunt, and he has no problem with putting all of his personal life out there. In Hard Wired, Ian loved watching his videos because he felt like he was so real. We also saw in Hard Wired that Beau and Zane seemed to be bothered by one another’s videos for differing reasons. Anyway, Zane is definitely an interesting character who is a lot of fun. I thought his POV was always enjoyable. I loved how Zane was unapologetically himself. He made no apologies for he was to his family or anyone else who had an issue with it, which I seriously respected.

As I’ve already mentioned a few times, Beau and Zane have a hate to love relationship in Mature Content. Why do they hate each other? Well, Beau feels like Zane making videos about all the details of his personal life are way too much information, even though secretly it kind of turns him on. But Beau likes to snub him in videos so they have kind of a feud going on. Zane feels like Beau is too stuck up and just downright fake. As I said earlier, Beau does slut shame Zane, but it does get shut down. I won’t reveal too much about the details, but just keep in mind that the authors don’t just let his comments go easily. Beau and Zane have some fierce and steamy sex scenes. As you might have guessed, they have quite a bit of hate sex. That might not be everyone’s thing because the actual romance takes awhile to kick in, but it’s pretty lovely when it does.

Mature Content is the fourth book in the Cyberlove series. I’m honestly not sure which one is my favorite because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each of them and this is no exception. Megan and Santino are both fabulous writers in their own right, but even more powerful when they come together as a team. I hope that they write more books together in the future. There’s one YouTuber that we’re introduced to that I think could potentially receive his own book. That would be awesome to read about. I loved the exploration of YouTube culture and felt like they handled it well. This was a fast paced read and I’m happy that I picked it up!


Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.


Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.



Megan Erickson is a USA Today bestselling author of romance that sizzles. Her books have a touch of nerd, a dash of humor, and always have a happily ever after. A former journalist, she switched to fiction when she decided she likes writing her own endings better.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her very own nerdy husband and two kids. Although rather fun-sized, she’s been told she has a full-sized personality. When Megan isn’t writing, she’s either lounging with her two cats named after John Hughes characters or… thinking about writing.
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ARC Review: Interborough

October 24, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

ARC Review: InterboroughInterborough (Five Boroughs, #4) by Santino Hassell
Published by Riptide Publishing on October 24th 2016
Pages: 249
Source: Santino Hassell
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1), Sunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2), First and First (Five Boroughs, #3), Mature Content (Cyberlove, #4)
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I received this book for free from Santino Hassell in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.
David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.
The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.

First things first, Interborough is a continuation of Raymond and David’s story, which began in Sunset Park. As I stated in my review of that book, I think that the two make a surprising couple, but they ultimately make a whole lot of sense. Though they couldn’t be more different, they balance each other out. I was honestly a bit nervous for them to get another book, just because I love them so much and didn’t want them to have to deal with any crazy drama. I should’ve trusted Hassell more, he knows what he’s doing with these characters. Even though the relationship between them isn’t a perfect one, it’s always entertaining. I loved getting to spend more time with these memorable and fun characters. Thank you Santino for giving us more Raymond and David!

In this case, it feels weird going over all the characters again since I already explained most of the details in my review of the second book. However, some things about these characters have in fact changed. Raymond is a lot more overwhelmed with his workload and taking classes than he was before. In the first book, he was a major slacker, but he eventually got it together for David because he wanted to make something of his life. I’m not going to lie, as much as I love Raymond, I wanted to hit him multiple times while reading this. He was blind to a lot of things that he shouldn’t have been, and I didn’t totally respect his decision to stay in the closet. I understand that not everyone can be out, and Raymond is someone that’s only very recently accepted that he’s bisexual, but it was frustrating that he kept doing this even when he knew it was hurting David. Raymond is still a lovable guy and I really felt for him as we realize all the struggles he has to face with the police profiling him just because he’s Latino. All in all, of course I still enjoyed him, he just drove me nuts at times.

Surprisingly, David was the one that I felt a lot of sympathy for at times. When we first met David, it was hard to like him since he was cheating on his boyfriend, but in the second book, we learned that there was a little bit more to the story. Anyway, I ended up liking David more then, and now I have to admit that I love him. Yes, he’s a pretty privileged guy, but he’s not stuck up. David is an intelligent guy who knows what he wants out of life. I felt bad for him because he started doubting himself at certain parts of the book. I just wanted to give him a huge hug. It was definitely weird to be on David’s side when it comes to his issues with Raymond, but I totally was. I’m glad that David continued to grow as a character throughout this story. As a result, it made him all the more likable.

Obviously, the romance here is automatically a bit different considering the relationship is already established. However, they have been having a bit of a dry spell sexually since Raymond has been busy and stressed with balancing work and school. Nevertheless, the sex scenes are still hot and steamy from the beginning. I expect nothing less from this pair since they’ve had such a strong chemistry even long before they first got together. Even though they are already together, they still have quite a bit of drama that threatens the relationship tremendously. Despite all that, I wasn’t worried for a second, it’s clear that these two are meant to be together regardless of whatever might be going on.

David and Raymond have always been my favorite couple out of the three Five Boroughs relationships. They have such a strong connection and bond that’s definitely unbreakable. I’m glad that we got to be inside David and Raymond’s heads one last time.  Santino Hassell has written yet another compelling romance that’s gritty and real. David and Raymond don’t have an easy road ahead of them, but they find a way to get through it all together. I’m so glad that I read this one and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. I’m hoping for possibly Ashton and Clive’s story.



First and First Review

October 23, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

First and First ReviewFirst and First (Five Boroughs, #3) by Santino Hassell
Published by Dreamspinner Press on April 18th 2016
Pages: 244
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1), Sunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2), Interborough (Five Boroughs, #4), Mature Content (Cyberlove, #4)
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Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reigns, and “alternative lifestyles” are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he’s still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn’t know how… until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.
Oli is everything Caleb isn’t—risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year’s Eve, Caleb is smitten.
As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.

At this point in my reviews of books by Santino Hassell, I’m just starting to sound super repetitive. Anyway, First and First is another steamy and entertaining M/M book from one of my favorite authors in this genre. I was honestly worried that Caleb’s story would be boring and frankly rather vanilla, but thankfully Oli’s presence made it anything but that. This was definitely a compelling and fast paced read. With some of the other books in this series, particularly the first book, it was a little on the heavier side so I personally wasn’t able to devour it in one sitting. I didn’t have this problem with First and First in the slightest, instead I read it in only hours. It was just the book that I needed at the time.

From what we learned about Caleb in Sunset Park, he seemed rather boring and predictable. However, I was glad to see that he received his own story because he turned out to be much more entertaining than I was expecting. I wouldn’t say that Caleb is my favorite character in this series, but I definitely admit that I enjoyed him and his growth throughout the book. It was great to see him develop more and more as a person as the book progressed. Yes, he’s a rich and super privileged guy, but I appreciated that his personality as a whole showcased more than just that.

Oli is basically the exact opposite of our boy Caleb. Where Caleb is closed off and seemingly cold, Oli is open and extremely friendly. Where Caleb seems vanilla and boring when it comes to his sex life, Oli is bold and up for anything. They are actually a lot like David and Raymond, they seem completely different on paper, but they somehow make sense. Now back to Oli, he’s such a fun and exciting character. I thought that he was so much fun when we were introduced to him in Sunset Park. Though he seems like this fun guy who doesn’t care about much, we learn that there’s a lot more to him than just that, and I loved that about him.

So I mentioned already that the relationship was far from being a boring one. Oli is a sexually adventurous guy to say the least. He isn’t a fan of monogamy like Caleb is, but there’s still something about Caleb that intrigues them from their first hot encounter on New Year’s Eve. I think that Caleb and Oli made a strange but incredible couple. I was a little uneasy about the fact that Oli basically had to change who he was in order to be with Caleb. I mean, it wasn’t totally who he was, but he’d never been a fan of committing to another person, and he makes this clear to Caleb. Towards the end though, he starts to suddenly change his mind and then everything is all happy. I felt like the happy ending happened too quickly. It’s not realistic that someone would change his ways that quickly, it was all too easy to me.

Despite the very minor issues that I had, this was yet another wonderful book from a fabulous author. Seriously though, there isn’t anything that Santino Hassell writes that I won’t read. Caleb and Oli were two characters that I really enjoyed and was able to relate to on some level. Out of the two, Oli is easily my favorite, he’s so full of life and energy. He was a funny and compelling character to read about. Even though my reviews of these books are starting to sound the same, I still have to say that I strongly recommend reading this one and the whole series.



Sunset Park Review

October 22, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Sunset Park ReviewSunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2) by Santino Hassell
Published by Dreamspinner Press on December 11th 2015
Pages: 230
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1), First and First (Five Boroughs, #3), Interborough (Five Boroughs, #4), Mature Content (Cyberlove, #4)
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Raymond Rodriguez's days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.
David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.
Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

I thought Michael’s brother Raymond was totally hilarious in the last book, so I’m happy that he received his own love story. I first read from this blurb that the romance was between Raymond and David right after I finished reading the first chapter of Sutphin Boulevard, so I thought that they made the WEIRDEST couple. I couldn’t be more wrong, somehow Raymond and David just end up making sense together. Yes, there’s roadblocks in the way here, but it’s worth it in the end. Though I enjoyed the first book, I have to say that I might have liked this one just a little bit more. Nevertheless, Hassell has delivered yet again on a gritty romance filled with memorable characters. I highly recommend it for M/M fans, or new readers of the genre!

Like I said, Raymond was hilarious and entertaining in the last book and I’m glad we get his story here. It was interesting to see Raymond exploring his sexuality, now that he realizes that he’s bisexual. Throughout the story, we watch Raymond deal with his personal problems with what exactly this means and how he wants to go from here. He’s also very insecure when it comes to what other people might think about him, so that comes up again and again in the story. I thought that he was a fabulous character and I really liked him for the most part. He was a lot less frustrating than his brother, that’s for sure!

David was a character that took me a little bit longer to really love. I’m not going to lie, I judged him hard in the first book for cheating on his boyfriend just because he was “boring.” However, we end up seeing a different side to David in this book. Yes, he can be kind of stuck up at times, but Raymond ends up bringing out the best in him. What’s different from this book is that we get both POV’s, and I thought that was a smart move from Hassell. He was able to create two very unique and distinctive voices from these guys who came from completely opposite backgrounds, and make them both extremely relatable. Anyway, I liked knowing what exactly David was thinking, it made me like him so much more. At the end of the day, he’s a smart and interesting guy who is the perfect match for my boy Raymond.

I love that Raymond and David started out as being friends in the first book and at the beginning of this one, before they become roommates. The friendship seemed weird to me at first, but it ultimately ended up working in such a surprising and awesome way. I loved the natural progression of their relationship. There was a gradual and realistic build-up that truly worked. Sutphin Boulevard was totally hot, but I have to admit that Sunset Park might even be a bit hotter! Nope, there aren’t any threesomes in this one, but the heat and passion that exists in every David and Raymond sex scene was scorching hot. There were quite a few sex scenes, and I have no complaints about that at all. Aside from the physical parts, there’s still an emotional depth to the relationship that I absolutely loved. Sorry Nunzio and Michael, David and Raymond are my favorite couple in this series so far.

Santio Hassell has wrote yet another beautiful and complicated love story. Though I thought that the first book was refreshing and incredibly well written, I have to admit that I might just like Sunset Park a bit more than the previous one. I was happy that this book was a lot less dark and depressing than Sutphin Boulevard. I also felt relieved that David and Raymond seemed to get it together much sooner than Michael and Nunzio did. As I’ve already mentioned, this is a wonderful series that I recommend if you’re a fan of the M/M genre, or if you’re new to the genre and looking for an awesome series to start, try these books.



Sutphin Boulevard Review

October 21, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★½

Sutphin Boulevard ReviewSutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1) by Santino Hassell
Published by Dreamspinner Press on July 31st 2015
Pages: 264
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Sunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2), First and First (Five Boroughs, #3), Interborough (Five Boroughs, #4), Mature Content (Cyberlove, #4)
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Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens to teaching in one of the city’s most queer friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.
Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.
When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years. 

So I read the first three books in the Five Boroughs series earlier this year and really enjoyed them. For some reason, I haven’t reviewed any of them. I thought that it might be a good idea to dedicate the next three days to this awesome series, considering the fact that the fourth book is coming out on Monday. Then I’m going to share my thoughts on that book, Interborough, which I highly recommend! Without further ado, I hope you enjoy my thoughts on Michael and Nunzio’s love story.

This is probably the most difficult book in the series for me to rate. Sutphin Boulevard is extremely hot, but it’s also downright depressing at times. I had heard that Santino Hassell writes really gritty and complicated love stories going into this, it just turned out to be even more than I was initially expecting. If you don’t like a whole lot of angst and heavy real world problems, you might not enjoy this. But I do recommend it if you want to read something realistic and fascinating. Hassell doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and that’s what I most enjoyed and found difficult about his writing. If you want a unique M/M story that is far from fluffy and romantic, check this one out.

Michael was the character that I personally had a tough time with. He was pretty ignorant when it comes to Nunzio’s feelings for him, and my heart hurt for Nunzio at certain times in the story. Michael wasn’t a bad character by any means, I think the reason why I had issues with him was due to how downright real Hassell made him. He’s an imperfect person who has some really awful things happen to him, and this also leads to him discovering his addictions and deeper problems. A lot of this story deals with that awful down spiral and how he comes back from that. It was hard to read his voice during those times, but I do like that it was raw and real.

Nunzio is a character that I absolutely love. Hassell actually wrote the first chapter in the POV of Nunzio for Sinfully. It was just as amazing as I hoped that it would be. Anyway, Nunzio has been Michael’s best friend since they were young kids. The sexual tension between them has been there for a LONG time, but both of them (mostly Michael) have just ignored it completely. The reason why I like Nunzio is because he was such a wonderful friend and eventually boyfriend to Michael. He stood by him through absolutely everything that Michael went through. He was also a funny and charming character. It’s safe to say that I loved him and wanted more of his voice in this story!

The romance in this book was definitely complicated. Meaning, the romance side of Michael and Nunzio’s relationship actually isn’t the focus. It’s more about them being these close friends who end up discovering that they have chemistry. In other words, it takes them forever to realize that what’s between them is actually love. So the focus is on the friendship, but it’s also about Michael’s breakdown and how he gets better. That being said, there’s still some hot scenes. For example, the first chapter of the books is a threesome between Nunzio, Michael, and David (remember that name for my review tomorrow) and it’s easily one of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever read. It still would have been nice to see actual romance happen between them.

This was a book that was hard to read for me personally. At times, I found myself flipping through some of the pages when things got especially gritty and angsty. I just wanted something positive to happen to Nunzio and Michael. I did end up enjoying it because I feel like the story is very realistic. This author is absolutely amazing, and I now read everything that he writes. If you’ve never explored the M/M genre, I think that you should start with this series. It has excellent writing, serious romance, real plots, and fascinating characters. What more could you possibly want in a book?



Fast Connection Review

July 17, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Fast Connection ReviewFast Connection (Cyberlove #2) by Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell
on July 11th, 2016
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Overexposed (In Focus, #4), Daring Fate (Silver Tip Pack #1), Mature Content (Cyberlove, #4), Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1), Sunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2), First and First (Five Boroughs, #3), Interborough (Five Boroughs, #4), Mature Content (Cyberlove, #4)
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After a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic 'Nicky' Costigan--the skirt-chasing player. They don't know I've been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys.
When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it's for one-night only. That's fine with me, because I'm down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn't take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again.
He's got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he's as addicted to me as I am to him. He can't resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke's rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated.
*FAST CONNECTION is a standalone, full-length romance novel with no cliffhanger*

Wow, this book was seriously amazing! I’ve been waiting for it to come out since I first read Strong Signal back in February. It’s safe to say that these two amazing authors didn’t disappoint with their second book co-authoring together. Fast Connection is a beautifully written and fast paced novel that definitely managed to keep my interest throughout the entire book. Dominic and Luke are two flawed but incredible characters that you can’t help but love from the very first page. I really identified with both of them for several different reasons. I was beyond impressed with this book. Honestly, there aren’t any bad things to say about Fast Connection at all. I felt like the romance was steamy but also well developed at the same time. I highly recommend reading this book if you’re a fan of fabulously written romances between two super hot men!

So Dominic or Nicky Costigan is totally my dude. He was portrayed as a douchebag who used Garrett somewhat in Strong Signal, but we gradually learn that there’s more to his story once we learn about his struggle with his sexuality. He’s just returned from so many years spent in the military and he isn’t sure what to do next with his life. He thinks that he wants to become an EMT, but for now he’s stuck working at his dad’s deli. He used to be a major manwhore, jumping from girl to girl. Now after his time in the military, he has come to terms with the fact that he also likes guys. Despite his few brief encounters with Garrett, he’s never really been with a guy, so that’s when he turns to Grindr to find someone to hook up with. Though he seems like a douchebag in some ways, he actually has a huge heart when it comes to his sister and anything else that he truly cares about. He’s a solid guy, and I loved how passionate he became when it came to particular things.

Luke is a seriously complicated guy to say the least. He’s quite a few years older than Dominic, and also lived a more full life in a lot of ways. He has two teenage kids and he’s divorced. Like Dominic, he was also in the military, but he was unfortunately dishonorably discharged for incredibly stupid reasons. After a crazy ex gets a little too close to his kids, Luke is hesitant to start anything serious with anyone. Instead he simply meets random hookups on Grindr when his kids are gone and then quickly moves on to the next one. I was able to identify with the trust issues that Luke had, though sometimes I wanted him to open up more with Dominic just because he’s such a loving and honest guy. He’s a wonderful father who makes so many sacrifices just to make his kids lives even better than they are. One of my favorite things about him is how the authors portray his sexuality. He identifies as bisexual because he really did love his wife, they just weren’t meant to be a couple, but still stay close friends. It seems like characters who are bisexual are still relatively low, so it was nice to see it here.

The relationship between Dominic and Luke was pretty great and steamy all around. I loved the chemistry that was very present from their first encounter. Yes, it obviously got pretty sexual really fast, but I still felt like it was handled. As already mentioned, Luke has commitment issues and it takes him quite some time to get used to having Dominic around. I also felt like it was interesting how Dominic and Luke’s paths ended up crossing in ways outside of their weekend hookups. Once they finally become a couple, I really enjoyed seeing their love progress and become gradually stronger as the book went on. It was a beautiful and steamy love story that I couldn’t get enough of! I love both of them individually, and they are seriously a forced to be reckoned with as a couple.

I can’t recommend Fast Connection enough to you guys! It features two incredible characters who have flaws, but still are extremely great people. The plot wasn’t all that complicated, but it didn’t need to be. It’s just about two guys trying to figure out who they are, want they want, and what they want to do with their lives. Ultimately, who can’t relate to at least some of that? It’s a beautiful and honest thing to read about, and I love seeing that. This was a fabulous book and I’m hoping that Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell are able to right together again, because they are definitely amazing at it!



Strong Signal Review

February 26, 2016 Reviews 2

Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1) by Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell
Published by Megtino Press on February 15th 2016
Pages: 235
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Overexposed (In Focus, #4), Daring Fate (Silver Tip Pack #1), Mature Content (Cyberlove, #4), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1), Sunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2), First and First (Five Boroughs, #3), Interborough (Five Boroughs, #4), Mature Content (Cyberlove, #4)
Reading Challenges: Contemporary Romance Challenge
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I was counting down the months until the end of my deployment. My days were spent working on military vehicles, and I spent my nights playing video games that would distract me until I could leave Staff Sergeant Garrett Reid behind.
That was when I met him: Kai Bannon, a fellow gamer with a famous stream channel.
I never expected to become fixated on someone who'd initially been a rival. And I'd never expected someone who oozed charm to notice me—a guy known for his brutal honesty and scowl. I hadn't planned for our online friendship to turn into something that kept me up at night—hours of chatting evolving into filthy webcam sessions.
But it did. And now I can't stop thinking about him. In my mind, our real life meeting is perfect. We kiss, we fall into bed, and it's love at first sight.
Except, like most things in my life, it doesn't go as planned.
Strong Signal is a standalone, full-length novel with no cliffhanger

Honestly, this was my first M/M New Adult book and I was so impressed with the writing from Erickson and Hassell. This book kept me completely glued to the page from start to finish. There’s tons of positive things to say about this read, I really don’t know where exactly to start. I guess I’ll say this: if you’re looking for a mature and hot read featuring a military man and a video game geek, this is for you. I know this sounds super specific, but it’s just a great feel good book that also has some serious depth to it. Kai and Garrett are both well rounded and fascinating. You’ll love them both equally, I didn’t have a favorite.

I wasn’t sure if the whole military and video game thing was something that appealed to me. I gave it a shot anyway because I’ve heard positive things about Erickson’s M/M books and so I started here. I’m SO glad that I tried it because these two worlds colliding work in a compelling manner. Kai has serious social anxiety and has barely left his apartment the past three years. Instead he hides behind the safety of his video games and makes a living from his Twitch stream. Basically, he has a large enough following on this popular streaming site that he makes a decent amount of money. I’m not going to lie, I’m kind of ignorant when it comes to video games and I thought that the authors had made the site up because I know that gamers release YouTube videos. However, I had no idea that this community existed and it was surprisingly intriguing reading about it. Though I did love Garrett just as much as Kai, I felt a special connection to the latter because I know how crippling social anxiety can feel. I really enjoyed Kai’s personality and his character growth that gradually develops throughout Strong Signal.

On the other hand, Garrett is a man who works on military vehicles over in Afghanistan. I absolutely adore his strong personality that shines through the pages. He doesn’t feel like he belongs in the military, he just went there to avoid being stuck in his small town in Pennsylvania. This was also something that I could relate to, not wanting to live in the same place you grew up in for your whole life. Anyway, playing video games becomes a distraction for him as he tries to make it through the rest of his deployment and then never go back. While playing his favorite game, he gets killed by a popular and experienced streamer. Of course, this turns out to be Kai. More on Garrett’s character though, he’s a gruff guy who has a totally incredible heart. I really felt for him concerning his romantic life. He’d never really connected with another guy on a romantic level before. He was just being used by guys in the past and then he comes across Kai and everything changes for both of them.

So the relationship begins by Garrett emailing Kai and then the basic friendship between them quickly grows into more. I had no idea how hot this relationship could be before the two even meet each other in person. In today’s world, it’s very much believable to me that this could happen. The emails turn into instant messaging which then turns to Skype. Obviously, these sessions get rather steamy. Truth be told, Garrett’s dirty talk is a major reason why those sessions get so intense. Beyond the physical stuff, the two just get each other and want to be together in person. Eventually, Garrett comes back to the states and the first place he goes is to Kai’s apartment. Kai’s initial reaction is not a positive one, he slams the door in his face because he is definitely overwhelmed by him just showing up there. What comes out of it though is a fabulous scene between the two that you don’t want to miss! All I can say is the swoon is pretty amazing. I love them as a couple, they balance each other out. Garrett never pushes his boyfriend too far, he respects that his social anxiety is a very difficult and real thing. I could ramble on about it more, but I’ll let you judge for yourself.

This was a book that I couldn’t put down. I told myself I’d read just a few more chapters, but that quickly became more and more until I reached the end and wanted to read another romance like this from Erickson. Though I have no idea which author wrote which voice, I feel like they were both filled with personality and heart. I’m interested in reading more from Hassell now, and I’ve read some reviews saying that his writing style is more gritty and a little on the darker side while Megan has a lighter (well besides Focus on Me) style. Regardless, I ended up enjoying it. This was a well written story that has a fabulous HEA. So if you’re a fan of those, I’m sure this will be something that you will like. I can’t wait to read Costigan’s story, a character who was over in Afghanistan with Garrett and struggled with his sexuality big time. Admittedly, he’s a douchebag with a strong personality from what we can see, but I still want to see him find his own happy ending like Garrett was able to have!

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: