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 loved this book. I mean I really LOVED this book. My expectations were high for this one before it was published because of all those 5 star reviews but.. damn! This book still blew me away.
I was a bit worried I might be disappointed because of my high expectations but it was So. Much. Better. Than I ever thought it would be.
I can’t put into words how perfect this book was!
Garrett is a mechanic on deployment in Afghanistan, waiting for his tour to end. And the only time he can escape from that is when he’s online gaming. One day, while playing Fallen World Online, Garrett “meets” Kai. Who promptly kills him and then proceeds to do a happy dance over his dead body. Suffice to say that this pisses Garrett off a lot and he starts to look into Kai’s profile to find out who he is. This is how he stumbles onto Kai’s Twitch stream and then also onto a tumblr page dedicated to Kai – where he finds other (non-gaming related) videos of him.
Garrett messages him and at first they only talk, which then turns into light flirting and eventually into really dirty (HOT!) messages.
At first Kai is wary of Garrett. Kai suffers from a severe case of social anxiety and panic attacks. He has left his appartment only a handful of times in the last three years. And his only connection to the “outside” is through gaming and his friends he made while streaming. So when Garrett messages Kai, he’s scared, nervous and unsure what to do. But he replies nontheless and the two form a tentative connection.
Kai is still wary at the beginning but the more he gets to know Garrett the more comfortable he is with him and soon they’re constantly messaging each other. Garrett even plans his days around Kai’s streaming schedule so he can see as much of him as possible.
I felt instantly drawn to Kai and Garrett. Their back and forth was one of the highlights of this book for me.
I couldn’t wait for them to be online again and talk (yeah, well and other *stuff* too. ;)) I feel like I can’t say anything that hasn’t been mentioned by other reviewers before, but I’ll try.
I loved how the relationship slowly grew from the first time they talk to what it becomes at the end of the book. It was so wonderful to see these two fall in love even though they had only ever talked online and never met IRL before.
And when they finally meet.. that scene is, without a doubt, my favourite scene in a book. Ever! It was so beautifully written and I understood Kai so well because before it was just online, like he could just turn his computer off and he’d be safe again. But suddenly the person he talked to – shared things with he never told anyone else before – is right there in front of him. And he can’t handle that. It’s just too much at once.
This scene felt so real! Like I was *there* in the hallway with Garrett or on the other side of the door with Kai. The whole time I was hoping for Kai to open the door. “Pleeeease! Just a bit. Just so that Garrett knows!”
There are no words for how perfect this scene was!
The way both of them put themselves out there and make themselves vulnerable was so beautiful. It’s an unknown situation for both of them, but especially for Kai it’s frightning and new but because he can’t loose Garrett he finds the strength to overcome his own boundaries and to see that was heart-meltingly beautiful! Both characters grow so much during the book and I enjoyed seeing them change each other. They complement each other and just belong together!
I also loved how “nerdy” Strong Signal was without being stereotypical. Kai and Garrett were just two guys who happened to like RPGs. (Nerdy probably is the wrong word for it, but it’s the closest I can come up with right now.)
I still don’t know how to put into words how truly special this book is. It’s mind-blowingly amazing and cute, so REAL and beautiful, sexy, geeky and funny but also heartbreaking and it made me laugh and cry and smile, sometimes at the same time. ❤
Strong Signal left me with a “book high” and book hangover combined in one! Not sure how that’s possible, but it apparently happens. And as a friend said: It’s the sign of the perfect read! Which describes this book perfectly.
I haven’t mentioned the chemistry between Kai and Garrett yet: It is off the charts hot! The dirty messages.. *fans self* And then how they send each other vids of themselves.. *dead*
And not to forget one of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever read AND THEY WEREN’T EVEN ON THE SAME CONTINENT!
You have to know that I love all of Mr. Hassells books. They’re so raw and gritty, and I always know I’m in for a treat when a new book written by him comes out.
On the other hand I’ve only read one of Ms. Ericksons books before, which sadly wasn’t my thing. But I think I’ll give her books another try.
I don’t know how Ms. Erickson and Mr. Hassell did it. They must have put drugs into their writing because it really is one of the best books I ever read. It had everything I loved. Thank you so much and I can’t wait until Fast Connection comes out!
PS: Please write LOTS of books together!