Sunday, February 21, 2016

ARC Review: Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Strong Signal (Cyberlove #1)
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. **)

Todd's rating:

When Megan and Santino dropped this ARC in my lap, I was thrilled and dying to see what this collaboration would produce and was not disappointed in the least.

At 26, gruff, stoic, deployed soldier Garrett isn't a big fan of people and is biding his time until his second tour of duty is up and he can go back to a more normal life.

To pass the time, Garrett plays online strategy games, where one night he finds himself unceremoniously dispatched by a much more experienced gamer.

Garrett is pissed and hunts down his unwitting online nemesis, who turns out to be a beautiful, charming guy and suddenly thoughts of revenge turn into something much more sexy as soon as Garrett sees his foe's cam feed.

At 25, Kai is a professional 'gaymer' with thousands of subscribers and adoring fans. However, he also has a debilitating case of social anxiety, so he's been apartment-bound for the last 3 years. (Thank God for Amazon Prime, right?)

Garrett initially stalks Kai's Twitch game feed to figure out how to take him down, but the two strike up an easy friendship that turns into more by the time Garrett is finally discharged from the Army.

I loved the dynamic between these two young men, with Kai being the calming force that Garrett needs to not be so angry all the time and Garrett being the protective and caring person around whom Kai can finally relax.

I especially loved the scene where Garrett shows up for the first time on Kai's doorstep unannounced. I found that part absolutely adorable.

This was a very sexy read nearly all the way through the book, without really going into full-on gratuitous territory.

Also, for those of you who find porn hot (not myself, of course, nope,) Kai may or may not supplement his income with an XxxTube video channel. ;- )

But the book also dealt with several more serious issues, from Kai working on his panic attacks, to Garrett finding a profession he could be proud of, to their inevitable separation due to Garrett's relocation several states away for his new job.

Their issues were dealt with realistically and there were, thankfully, no 'magical penis' cures, although there was a lot of dicking to be found.

Like... a lot. Power bottoms of the world, unite!

We do get a very satisfying epilogue and a strong HEA, so I highly recommend this 4.5 star read.

** Here is Kai's Tumblr page (created by Megan and Santino):
My copy of the ARC was provided by the authors in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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