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Release Reviews: Insight: Santino Hassell

Insight (The Community #1)
Santino Hassell
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Released March 13, 2017
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Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate. 

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.


Graphics from author's Facebook page

Nate Black's life has been miserable in his small Texas hometown with his family are freaks with psychic abilities that tend to spend their time drunk or end up missing or dead. Nate is a poorly controlled empath and has trouble filtering out other people's feelings and impressions, so he isolates himself. He is used to being a pariah and bullied, so he is paranoid. But when he is paralyzed by a vision, he learns his estranged twin is dead of apparent suicide and he decides he needs to follow the trail to New York.

He is picked up on the road by Trent, a man he ran into a couple of times and he got a positive vibe from. Trent is a grad student with a good sense of humor and outgoing personality. But he is also a bit sarcastic and skeptical. The offer of a ride ends up with them on a road trip to New York. They fall into a rhythm  of burgeoning camaraderie and underlying attraction and sexual tension.

But neither of them are prepared for what they will find in New York and how their lives will change. The investigation into his brother's death leads to a community. Maybe Nate is not as weird or unique as he thought, but with his new group comes layers of mysteries, secrets, doubts, lies, threats, danger, cover ups, and unexplained events. There are many new people with questionable motives. It is hard to know who to trust and what to believe. It is easy to get caught up in conspiracy theories, but hard to get actual, real answers. In a world where it is easy for someone to influence or lead another, it is hard to tell if they are doing it for good or nefarious reasons, and to determine who is friend or foe.

It will all come down to a chaotic chain of events where truths and loyalties are revealed. But who will escape unscathed and what will be the repercussions?

Throughout this is the burgeoning love story of Nate and Trent. And Nate trying to determine if he could be influencing Trent in any way or if Trent truly cares for him. Their bond and relationship felt real, but the romance is second to the solving the mysteries of the Community. I liked that Trent was more of an anchor for Nate who never really had anyone to lean on.

The cast of quirky, intense characters with various talents is interesting. I especially found Holden, Chase, and Elijah to be stand outs. The premise for the story is unique and compelling. I liked Trent, as he was the straight man and balance to Nate's chaos. Nate grew on me as he started coming out of his shell and becoming more invested in the world around him. The whole story was told in Nate's point of view so the tone was influenced by how he was feeling.

I will admit that I figured out some of the twists, but there were still a couple of surprises. I liked both the paranormal and romantic suspense components as well as the layered history of the characters and the community. I would have liked a bit more of the actual romance or love story. Although they had really good chemistry with a bit extra feeling due to Nate's abilities. There were a couple of rough transitions that had me re-reading them, and a couple of things I questioned or seemed inconsistent. And at times there was a lot of information and new people to process that slowed the pacing down for me especially near the middle. But the beginning pulled me in, and the last part progressed at a much faster pace.

Overall, this was an interesting start to this trilogy and the ending left me satisfied, but also intrigued enough to want to read book two, Oversight. The tease at the end already has me more curious about what will be coming next for all of these characters.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Oversight (book 2)

Sightlines (book 3)
Santino Hassell
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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.


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