Review: Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell05:08
Authors: Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Genre/Themes: Contemporary mm romance / gamers / military
Release Date: 15 Feb 2016
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My rating: 5 Stars
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.
I have already read a couple of books both by Santino Hassell and Megan Erickson and quite enjoyed them. When I heard they have written something together I was excited to read it and when I got an early copy for review and dove straight into it.
I admit I am not much of gamer and I hadn't heard of Twitch before reading this book but all the gaming and online communication flew smoothly through the story and I found it surprising easy to relate to. I have my own past experience with online dating/connecting with new people. I actually met my husband in an online photography forum though since we lived in the same city we moved to offline contact pretty quickly.
Now, about Kai and Garrett - in one word, I absolutely loved their story. It's told from dual POV and loved being privy to their thoughts and emotions with such directness and clarity.
Garrett and Kai seem rather different and the thing that connects them and brings them together initially was gaming. Garrett is gay guy in the Army, deep in the closet, having dirty sex with people who preternd they don't know him after that. Kai is a popular gamers, openly gay, yet very much shut off from the real world, living almost fully in the virtual space.
I liked how the authors explored their connection, the way Kai and Garrett opened to one another, despite things happening long-distance. They both had legitimate concerns about stalking, catfishing, and all the risks involved in taking an online relationship into real life. And added to this were their own personal issues - Kai's panic attacks when he leaves his home, Garrett hiding his sexuality, stressing about getting a good job after leaving the army.
Their relationship was based on chemistry and love and support and understanding of each other but it all came gradually and things were not always easy. I think one of the main strengths of the story which makes it an unforgettable read for me is the balance the authors achieved between funny and fluffy and loving and adorable on the one hand and the raw and gritty reality of low/middle class young people - the dangers of being unemployed, all the frustrations of sorting your life financial and professionally, all this couple with the dangers and attractions of online relationships.
This is not a fairytale online romance, it's real and it's both beautiful and heart-breaking at times. There are no easy solutions in life and there a lot of things one has to fight for but having someone by your side who supports you and understands you and ultimately loves you is the greatest gift.
Finding each other did not magically solve the issues Kai and Garrett had. Love does not cure your panic attacks, it doesn't help you get your dream job but it is a great stimulus for continue forward when things get rough.
Neither Kai, nor Garrett had previous experience in being in a relationship, caring for someone else, having someone else in their lives they had include in their plans, someone they love enough to search for compromise, for the best solution for everyone. They learned together how to be a couple, how to fit into the world of grown-ups and right the place in it that made them happy.
I loved this collaboration between Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell and I'm already looking for the next book in this series and I'm sure it will be just as awesome! In the meantime, don't hesitate to read this story, I only have the highest praise for it.
PS: My blog is part of the release day blitz for Strong Singal and you can enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a Kindle Fire - HERE