Reviews: Fast Connection: Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2)
Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell
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Released July 11, 2016
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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*

With as much as I enjoyed Strong Signal, the first novel in Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell’s Cyberlove series, Fast Connection definitely earned a spot on my list of eagerly awaited reads. And for the last six weeks, it’s been sitting on my e-reader taunting me while I worked my way through my reviewing schedule. Now that I have had time to read it, I can say that my anticipation was justified.

Dominic Costigan is trying to navigate his way back into civilian life after nearly a decade in the Army, and as with many veterans, the transition has not been as easy as he had hoped. It doesn’t make it any easier that he’s back in his old Staten Island neighborhood surrounded by people who remember his reputation for being a chick magnet…especially because he’s since discovered that he’s interested in men too, and he has no clue how to go about picking up a man. He decides to try his luck with a hookup app and meets Luke Rawlings, a man twelve years his senior who makes it clear from the start that it’s only a one-time thing. Their chemistry, though, is too much for either to ignore. But there are reasons Luke has rules against going beyond a hookup, reasons he doesn’t mix the parts of his life, reasons that keep things from becoming complicated.

Unlike the previous book, Fast Connection is definitely not a slow burn. The pairing starts with a hookup early in the book, which, as I’ve mentioned a time or two in reviews before, is a scenario that typically makes the authors have to work harder to make me love the book. I suppose it’s possible that my reaction this time is because I’ve read so many books lately that start with quick hookups, but even if it’s a simple case of excellent writing instead—which this is, without question—I had no qualms about the trope this time. Dominic and Luke are scorching hot right from the start, and as the story progressed, the chemistry and intensity continued to keep their intimate scenes blazing and me interested in what was happening.

Much of what makes the pairing work so well is the fact that the characters are so well defined, and the authors stay true to them throughout the book. There are no reactions and behaviors that are out of character for them. Well, I have to amend that. There is one I didn’t get, but I can’t state it without it being a huge spoiler since it’s part of the big drama that leads up to the conclusion of the book. It’s not even so much something I didn’t think the characters would do, but more something that I found difficult to see as being very realistic, probably regardless of the characters. I will say, though, that it’s the only thing that made me enjoy this book slightly less than its predecessor. That being said, the situation each of the men find themselves in throughout the novel and the ways they choose to deal with it felt very realistic.

Beyond the characters, the storytelling itself was also highly polished. It’s written completely in the first-person point of view that alternates between the two characters. While this is my favorite style in romances, it’s also the one that seems to be hardest to accomplish the feat of keeping the reader from being confused about whose perspective is being used at any given time. Probably because the two characters are so well defined, the authors succeed admirably in this respect. So, like Strong Signal, it was very easy to get engrossed in the environment and story the authors were telling.

And the story they wove around the characters is very compelling. Probably my favorite part of the storyline involves the interaction between a couple of secondary characters, Luke’s son and Dominic’s sister. While each man has his own stress to deal with outside the relationship, this seemingly simple plot decision accomplishes so many things. Not only does it force Dominic and Luke to be involved in each other’s problems, which of course drives the course of the relationship forming between them, but it also allows the authors the perfect way to incorporate Kai and Garrett from Strong Signal into this storyline in a way that makes them important to the plot instead of just being part of a few throwaway scenes. Kudos to the authors for this, because even though it’s always nice to see characters I loved from a previous book, some stories fail to do their appearances justice.

Fast Connection is the second great book to come as the collaboration of Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell’s writing talents. I’m very happy to see that there looks to be a third novel to come in the series—it isn’t entirely obvious from just this book, but the authors also released a free, bonus short that takes place shortly after the conclusion of this book that hints very strongly about who will star in the next book. Even if there isn’t another book, though, I have both of these authors on my to-be-read list now to check out some of their individual efforts, as it’s quite clear the collaboration comes from two great authors.

Nope, no free copy this time. I paid for my copy of Fast Connection, and it was money well spent!

A Grindr hook up brings Dominic Costigan and Luke Rawlings together. But their chemistry and subsequent chatting in messages keep them coming back for more. 

Dominic has returned home to Staten Island after eight years in the military. He is lost, unsure of what he wants to do with his life, and stuck working in his family's corner store and living in his old basement bedroom. He's recently embraced his more bisexual tendencies and goes looking to gain some more experience with a Grindr hook up. He's funny and a bit cocky, but underneath he is vulnerable and insecure. He has feelings of unworthiness and is afraid of rejection.

Luke is a bisexual thirty-nine year old father of two teens who compartmentalizes his life. The week is for work and his kids, and the weekend is for hooking up with one night stands. He does not do repeats or attachments. He's grumpy, cynical, guarded, private, and a bit paranoid about keeping parts of his life separate.  But Dominic brings out a more playful side of him and makes him laugh.

These two have serious chemistry during their meet up, but it was never supposed to be more. But private messages lead to a gradual building connection and it adds up to more time spent together as well as an addictive need for each other. I enjoyed seeing their changing dynamics and how they both pushed each other and filled a void. But eventually their worlds will collide and there are various factors that have the potential to interfere and cause drama. 

They have personal issues, past demons, family struggles, and outside drama to deal with. And at times tempers, pride, and jealousy get in their way. When things get rough, sometimes they lose control and say things that hurt or cause the other to withdraw. They struggle, fight, get disappointed, and push each other. Their lives, ages, priorities are different. They have others they need to be concerned with. And neither of them are used to dealing with healthy relationships with another stubborn man. They exhibit strong reactions that sometimes result in fight or flight and avoidance issues.

This is about life being complicated and messy. Meshing lives and changing set patterns is not always easy. They have families to deal with and personal stressors. And there are no easy or sure fixes. 

Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell just make magic together. I loved Strong Signal and this one is another steamy, funny, intense, romantic read that sucked me in and made me fall in love with these complex, flawed men. Although I will admit that Luke was harder to warm up to and I wanted to smack sense into him a few times. The sex scenes in this one are scorching hot! I loved the private messages between them and how their humor and feelings sometime came out easier online. I enjoyed getting both points of view and understanding their inner turmoil. It was fun to get glimpses of Garrett and Kai from Strong Signal. It was another engaging, hot and heartfelt read and I hope that we see more collaborations with these two authors.
Strong Signal (Cyberlove #1)
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Released February 15, 2016
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Jay's and Kim's 4.5-star reviews

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.*

The Visit (Cyberlove #2.5) 
Free bonus short, available here

Megan Erickson
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Megan worked as a journalist covering real-life dramas before she decided she liked writing her own endings better and switched to fiction. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. When she's not tapping away on her laptop, she's probably listening to the characters in her head who won't stop talking.

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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