Review: Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Review: Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino HassellHard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
on February 13, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance
Series: Cyberlove #3
Published by Self Published
Source: Author

Copy for review provided by Author in exchange for an honest review.


four-stars

My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There's a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life.

But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I've known online for years. And he'd known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends.

Now we're back online, and he's acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don't plan to let him forget.

Hard Wired is the third story in the Cyberlove series, all about finding love through internet connections. The concept of the series is timely and you don’t have to be a hard core gamer to enjoy the stories. This one delves into the lives of two people who know each other only by their on-line personas but then meet in real life and discover that there’s more to someone than meets the eye.

Jesse ‘Garvy’ is excited to attend FallenCon as his mentor and friend Kai Bannon’s representative, not the least of which being that he’ll finally get to meet ‘Cherry’, his co-moderator on Kai’s Twitch channel. But before they meet, it’s lust at first sight when he catches a glimpse of ‘Cerise’, a dark and emo (and sexy!) fan-artist, an alter-ego of Ian Larson. Their mutual attraction leads to a steamy one-night stand, one Jesse hopes will be repeated. But when it turns out that Ian’s other alter-ego is Cherry, Jesse is left feeling betrayed and angry that Ian didn’t tell him the truth before they slept together.

Ian knows he screwed up. He wanted to tell Jesse who he really was, but worried that the revelation of his identity as Cherry would blow any chance of being with a man he’d fantasized about for so long. Now they’ve gone back to their respective States and he doesn’t know how to fix things, to work with Jesse on Kai’s channel as co-mods when they can’t even speak to each other. But Jesse doesn’t hold a grudge for long, and his attempts to re-establish a connection with Ian mean the lines of communication are open. Ian is in the process of applying for a scholarship to a school close to where Jesse lives, giving them the opportunity to see each other in person again. After their rocky start, can they find some common ground to build a real relationship on?

This is a very enjoyable read that takes a look at the highly popular video game industry and how it’s evolved into a whole other business of conferences, cosplay, social media channels like Twitch, YouTube and Tumblr and the personalities therein. Like a giant popularity contest, ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ and social media pages translate into advertising dollars, so can mean a real income for the people involved. And then the fan side of things takes it to a whole new level. From an outsider’s point of view like mine, it’s a fascinating world and I enjoyed reading about it, as much as the romance between Ian and Jesse.

Ian’s a complex character, having come from an abusive foster child background. His identities as Cerise and Cherry are protective mechanisms, both part of his true character. It’s Jesse who can see how Ian is a sum of these parts and he wants Ian to be able to be with him in person no matter the guise he’s wearing, causing some of the conflict between them. Jesse is a much more easy going guy than Ian, and unlike Ian, his character online is the same as he is in real life. It’s not to say he doesn’t have problems, as his relationship with his hippie parents causes him some personal drama too. Ian and Jesse’s relationship isn’t a one-sided one and they both have advice and strength to offer the other.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Cyberlove story without the sexy times! Ian and Jesse have that insta-lust connection that leads to a very steamy first encounter and even though it takes a while for them to get back together again due to living in different places, it doesn’t stop them from some long distance shenanigans. The emotional connection between them is strong and though they have their ups and downs, the happy ending they achieve is very satisfying. There are some interesting secondary characters in this one, which I hope is an indication that there are more stories to come in the series! Hard Wired is an emotionally intense and sexy romance that will definitely have you checking out gaming social media channels if you aren’t already a fan.




four-stars

About Megan Erickson

Megan Erickson grew up in a family that averages 5’5” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.

She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.

About Santino Hassell

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days grumbling on social media and nights writing queer romance.

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction 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.