Title: Hard Wired
Series: Cyberlove, #3
Authors: Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell
Publisher: Megtino Press
Release Date: February 13, 2017
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance / Gaymers
My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There’s a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life.
But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I’ve known online for years. And he’d known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends.
Now we’re back online, and he’s acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don’t plan to let him forget.
Universal Global Link: books2read.com/hardwired
I have been an avid fan of the Cyber Love series from the moment I first picked up Strong Signal.
There are no words for how thrilled I was to receive an ARC copy of this book, which I have been eagerly anticipating since the publication of Fast Connection (which, at the time, I’m not sure if I even knew that Garvy and Cherry would feature in, although I hoped and dreamed and wished for).
One of my favorite things about Erickson and Hassell’s collaborative work is how clear and vivid their characters are. Jesse “Garvy” and Ian “Cherrycakes” are no exception. Carrying perceptions of them based on glimpses of their characters in their mod personas from Strong Signal was, to be frank, delicious. There’s a layer of complexity to the character and plot work the authors have done here. They’re managing the reader’s perception of these characters from the previous books. In Hard Wired, we see the characters themselves juggling their perceptions of each other and their struggles with managing the blurring of the selves they’ve created in various roles. As someone who has navigated the spaces between personas and perceptions within online and real-life world, I really felt that the authors nailed this particular dynamic.
I also, 100% enjoyed the exploration and portrayal of character discrepancies between how they see themselves and each other. Ian in particular really stole my heart. His guarded, careful, anxious personality — a boy who learned early and tragically to protect himself at all costs — hurt my heart. The authors did a great job with showing and not telling with Ian’s complexities. He’s a man who tells himself he doesn’t do softness or sweetness, and yet is hopelessly attracted to and infatuated with a man he refers to as an “adorkable cinnamon roll”. I loved Jesse’s cluelessness. It vacillated between self-conscious, self-deprecating and flat-out frustrated. When navigating his relationship with Ian, Jesse is so clear even in his internal monologue that he doesn’t know what he’s doing half the time. He knows he’s trying, and probably mucking it up at points, and experiences frustration due to these limitations.
I want to praise this book for the way it handles Ian’s past. Knowing his history is vital in understanding him; but at no point is it glamorized (as these topics should never be); it’s not exploited for the sake of shock as a plot device; and it’s not explicit. We know what happened, but do not have to experience this. I appreciate this a lot, both personally as what I wanted to read at that moment, but also because it seemed very true for this moment in relationship building. I have known many (seriously, tragically too many) people with similar traumas. I don’t know many people who would demand a full disclosure of details so early in a relationship; honestly, if a victim didn’t want to tell their story, I would never expect them too. Often in romance I get a sense that readers feel entitled to the full, detailed story, as a nature of story telling and reading. The restraint in this aspect of Jesse and Ian’s relationship felt really honest and insightful.
Finally, I always appreciate a book that deals with character trauma but doesn’t heal it with love. Both Strong Signal and Hard Wired do this well. Support and healthy relationships are important. They are also work in progress, as is recovery and growth as a human. We get to see Ian and Jesse in the epilogue, happy and in love. We also know that Ian is still working on himself; he still needs to be his Cerise self from time to time, and Jesse seems to have grown into a more mature acceptance of this. I loved that.
“Finish your other drink. I want to show you something.”
Jesse did as commanded, tilting his head back and wincing, but he swallowed it in one gulp. I leaned in closer, pressing my body to his broader more muscular one, and tangled my fingers with his. He was so warm, and he smelled so good that I wanted to keep him close.
He dropped the glass to the table with a comical grimace. Jesse wasn’t much of a drinker, but he was still sharp. Even so, I leaned in and whispered, “Are you sober?”
“Does slightly tipsy count as sober?”
“In my world, yes. But… are you sober enough to make a decision you won’t regret about someone you know nothing about?”
Jesse sucked in another breath. I leaned back far enough to search his face and found parted lips still damp from the drink and dilating eyes. On a whim, I darted out my tongue to taste the gin and tonic on his lips. It tasted better.
“I won’t regret anything I decide,” he croaked.
My smile was slightly feral, but I couldn’t check my eagerness. This was happening. It was going to happen, anyway. And my heart was in my throat because I’d waited…dreamed…for years for this, and finally the moment was mine.
We speed-walked out of the party like a couple of over-excited kids, my hand sweaty as it gripped his. He didn’t pull away as our fingers twined together. I looked at him once to see he couldn’t take his eyes off me.
Fuck. I couldn’t believe this was happening.
FallenCon had completely taken over the convention center. There were cosplayers everywhere, people with badges, and drunk folks spilling out from the party. The entire place seemed like a party, and this was usually the moment that I loved the most. When everyone dropped their insecurities and their rivalries and online dramas, and we all had fun. Lost ourselves in a moment that would forever remain in our minds as the one time we truly enjoyed being out with others.
But my brain was a mantra of fuck other people, must have Jesse. I dragged him down a hallway, opened the first conference room door I saw, and was relieved to find the lights dimmed and no one inside.
I had him up against the wall before he could ask the question. Those explosive blue eyes widened, but he didn’t shy away. And he didn’t hold up his hands in typical over-the-top adorkable Garvy fashion, a please wait sign, when I plastered myself against him. His body was harder than I’d imagined, the bumps and ridges of muscle causing my pulse to race faster.
“I hope you don’t regret this tomorrow,” I murmured.
He shook his head. “Never.”
I wasn’t so sure, but I drew him in for a kiss. That first taste had been nothing compared to his mouth slanting open for me, immediately inviting my tongue. I gave it to him with sweeping glides, fucking his mouth with it, and drinking every delightful little sound he made.
It was Jesse’s first time kissing a guy, and I knew I should be making it sweet or gentle. Probationary, even. But I couldn’t. I ravaged him until we were clutching each other in the kind of raw make-out that belonged in the back of a pickup truck after a night of drunken tailgating, not in this haven for gamers and nerds.
We were grinding on each other, and I was too dazed to know when it had happened. All I knew was that the heaviness pressing against my own erection was causing my knees to weaken.
My moans filled every corner of the room, but I didn’t care if I seemed desperate or slutty. That he didn’t understand why a kiss was causing me to tremble with need. He couldn’t know that I’d imagined this so often, that I’d drawn it, that I’d wished for it. And he couldn’t have known that sliding his hand into my hair and holding me harder against him would unleash the part of me that wanted nothing more than to drop to my knees.
About the Authors:
Megan Erickson is a USA Today bestselling author of romance that sizzles. Her books have a touch of nerd, a dash of humor, and always have a happily ever after. A former journalist, she switched to fiction when she decided she liked writing her own endings better.
She lives in Pennsylvania with her very own nerdy husband and two kids. Although rather fun-sized, she’s been told she has a full-sized personality. When Megan isn’t writing, she’s either lounging with her two cats named after John Hughes characters or… thinking about writing.
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.
Blog Tour Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Review Self Published Tag: Celebrity / Famous Person Tag: Friends to Lovers Tag: Part of a series Cyberlove Hard Wired Megan Erickson Santino Hassell
Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007.
Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater will be available in May of 2018.