"He was more than a pretty face, this Kevin Bivanti. Maybe he was worth crying over in a bathroom. “Because of fate. We have to have both. Fate and hard work. And the willingness to leap."
This was even more wonderful in the reread. So I'm bumping up my initial rating from 4.5 to 5 stars while also putting this gem on my "favorite" shelf.
If this book was a wedding dress, it would have been designed by Vera Wang.
First read: January 28th, 2016
1st reread: March 10th, 2017
"Why are ninety percent of our conversations propping each other up?"
"We both need a lot of propping? I don't know. Why are we like this?"
I had high hopes for the third Cyberlove book after Strong Signal and especially Fast Connection, the phenomenal second book in this series. And while I still loved the writing and the general premise of this series (falling in love online), I'm afraid that this book just missed the mark for me. Which pains me to admit, because I'm a big fan of the Cyberlove series.
I usually don't mind angst in my books; in fact I love me some angst, it makes the HEA so much more earned and deserved. What I don't like though is melodrama. Especially unnecessary melodrama. I couldn't, for the life of me, connect to Ian's issue with his different (online) personalities. I mean, don't we all have different personalities, considering who we're interacting with and given the circumstances? I know that *I* am certainly acting and behaving differently when I'm talking to my parents than when I'm talking to my fellow M/M pervs online.
And I know that this was supposed to be a mutual hurt/comfort story, but for me, the comfort part in Ian's and Jesse's relationship was totally one-sided. I feel like 95% of every conversation/discussion/fight revolved around Ian and his online persona Cerise. There was only little to no support from Ian at all that led to Jesse finally standing up to his parents, and Jesse was THIS close to being a total doormat personality. I don't know why he kept bothering with Ian after their first encounter. Ian,...
The ending was also rushed, and given Ian's emotional trauma (I think he's been abused by his foster father, but that aspect has never really been fully explained nor dealt with) and social anxiety, it felt also incredibly forced and unbelievable.
A nice addition to this book is the Cerise's fanart page on Tumblr; I totally dig additional website pages and fan services like that.
So anyway, I'll just consider this book as a minor slip-up in this otherwise excellent series, and I will still be looking forward to the next installment.
What is it with Santino Hassell and parental figures? I know that not everyone is destined for growing up in a Brady Bunch household, but all these fucked-up family dynamics and despicable mother and father figures? In EVERY book? Kinda over it TBH.
"I twisted to look at him, squinting."So you knew a Rawlings Handie would get me out of my feelings about no one liking me?"
"So you're like a bisexual Dr. Phil."
Luke shook his head. "You're an idiot."
-> Great bonus short story is great. The doctor approves.
"She shook her head. "He seems like he's the opposite of simple."
I snorted. He's completely complicated. And lost. And frustrating. But we do something for each other." I intertwined my fingers. "We fit. We need each other."
The first book in this series, Strong Signal, was already close to perfection for me. But this? THIS WAS GODDAMNED EVERYTHING. I really don't think you can write a better story about imperfect characters with realistic problems and reasonable motivations and actions.
This book reminded again why the "fuck buddies-to-lovers" trope is such a favorite of mine. I just LOVE the concept of "lust first, feelings later". When what was supposed to be just a casual hookup with no strings attached becomes a regular arrangement, then feelings (oh, those damn feelings) are beginning to sneak their way in, slowly but unavoidably. With jealousy, possessiveness and all. Ugh, so good.
Usually, once the MCs got together in my books, I lose interest. Very quickly, very thoroughly. Sure, it's nice to see how they manage their everyday life (family, friends, work) now that they're in a new relationship, but I already know that life is hard and complicated and I don't want to read about it. It unnerves me.
But that wasn't the case here. Not at all. I loved the first part of the story (the "getting together" part) just as much as the second part (the "handling RL together" part). The sex scenes in the first half were nothing but smoking HAWT (not really a big shocker if you're familiar with these authors' other works), and the (multiple) family dramas in the second half were realistic and believable. And thankfully not too angsty.
I can't really say anything more or add anything else that hasn't been said already in other reviews. This was a solid 5 star-book for me, it goes onto my "favorites" shelf and I can't recommend it highly enough.
"Named a Best Romance of the Year by The Washington Post"? Well, consider me NOT surprised. Absolutely rightful and deserved.
Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell, I salute you.
"Images of Dominic dressed up flashed through my mind. Eyeliner wearing, cape-slinging vampire. Sexy, suspender-clad firefighter. Shirtless, dirty construction worker. I was a one-man Buzzfeed article on slutty costumes."
I know the feeling, Luke. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who dress up in slutty Halloween costumes and people like me, who are just sitting here masturbating to them. :-/
Puh-lease, if that was an accurate description of how the ordinary Grindr users look like and what the outcome of a Grindr hookup would be, then all gay bars would be empty and no gay man would be leaving his house ever again.
"What did scare me was the possibility of Kai not wanting me in person. Of him realizing how stoic I could be. How I tended to hold things close to the vest. How overprotective and paranoid I got sometimes. When he realized that I'd fallen in love with him via the Internet while across the world."
Well, wasn't this just bloody lovely.
When I started this book for the first time a couple of months ago, I kinda lost interest and put it down (it wasn't you, book, it was me). But today, I know the reason why:
The universe was trying to tell me to wait for the audiobook.
Because it was AMAZING. Big A, Big MAZING.
This was my first audiobook with dual narrators, and Guy Locke and Eric London where just perfect for their respective roles. They absolutely nailed it. I think I'm spoiled rotten for all future audiobooks to come.
Sometimes in my reviews I provide a plot recap, but I think at this point, almost everyone and their mothers have read this book already: Twitch streamer twink with social anxiety builds an online friendship (later relationship) with a muscled soldier hunk who's stationed overseas in Afghanistan. Great premise, very imaginative and unique, 10 out of 10.
One thing that I just absolutely LOVED in this book was the fact that Kai and Garrett didn’t just jump right into "filthy webcam sessions" (blurb's words, not mine), but they took their sweet time to get to know each other. To comfort each other. To TALK to each other. OVER THE COURSE OF SEVERAL MONTHS! Two gay guys who actually talk first before jumping into bed, now imagine that. But don't you fret my dears, there are still enough shameless dirty scenes later on where they are getting their absolute freak on. With a lot of hot dirty talk, I might add.
I only subtract half a star because I liked the first half of the book better than the second one. Once the guys meet in RL, the story dragged a little for me.
But it was a great story nonetheless, one that felt real and somehow still magical at the same time.
„Or was it because…in the billions of people on this shitty planet that I’d never be able to meet in person, the Internet had handed me one person who seemed to be absolutely perfect for me?“
"Kai: What did you fantasize about?
Garrett: Watching you. In person. Steady escalation from there.
Kai: Escalation in increments? ;)
Garrett: First I watch. Then I jerk off with you. Then we jerk each other. Then I kiss you.
Kai: That seems like a de-escalation
Garrett: Not the way I kiss."
Giving this another try after I’ve lost interest and DNFd a couple of months ago. Here's hoping this will work better for me now.