Monday, February 13, 2017

ARC Review: Hard Wired (Cyberlove 3) by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell


Blurb:
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.




Dani's rating:




If you read book 1, you'll remember Garvy and Cherry, Kai's two mods. Garvy is the bad cop; Cherry, the good cop. Garvy is strict and puts people in their place, while Cherry is sweet and giggly, a natural peacemaker. Pretty much everyone assumes Cherry is a girl.

Too bad they're wrong. Cherry is a persona created by Ian, also known as the badass artist Cerise.

When Jesse Garvy meets Ian as Cerise at FallenCon, it's all systems go. Jesse is just coming to terms with his sexuality, and no one has ever done it for him like Ian. Ian isn't shy. He drags Jesse to an empty conference room and gives him something to moan about.

"Nothing feels like you."

But Jesse doesn't know Ian is Cherry, and Ian doesn't tell him. Of course Jesse finds out (it's inevitable since they're on a panel together), and when he does, he lets his anger fly.




In real life, Jesse is a nice guy who works at a surf shop and can't say no. Jesse's parents are flighty and irresponsible, and constantly borrow money from their son to make ends meet. Jesse doesn't feel like he can leave Santa Cruz, even though his cousin Beau encourages him to move to Los Angeles and sleep on his couch. Jesse is stuck.

But Jesse's issues are a walk in the park compared to Ian's. Shuffled from foster home to foster home, Ian is used to hiding behind his art. He created a tough artist persona, all pierced and fiercely sexual, to escape pain and abuse.

When Ian transforms into Cerise, he's broody and snarky, wearing punk clothes like armor. Cerise works his sexuality; he invites others to stare and thirst.

Cerise isn't Ian, but he's PART of Ian. Being Cerise, in leather and metal, makes Ian feel safe. Cherry, on the other hand, is Ian's kind side, the side that throws emojis around like glitter, the side he buries.

It's only when Ian is with Jesse that he lets down his guard and becomes just IAN: witty, talented, sarcastic, insecure, vulnerable, wounded.

"I haven't stopped thinking about you for a second since we left the con, Jesse. And there hasn't been a night when I could sleep without coming with your name on my lips."



Ian broke my heart into a thousand little pieces. Ian NEEDS Jesse so much, but he's scared. Jesse doesn't like Ian as Cerise; he wants Ian to be real with him. And Ian tries. He encourages Jesse to start his own YouTube channel and to stand up to his parents. But he doesn't think he can face the world without using Cerise as a shield.

Was this what it was like to be in love? To know that you had something precious and live in constant terror it'd be taken away?

Because Ian lives in Dallas, and Jesse in Santa Cruz, they spend most of the story apart (physically at least, because they chat plenty). They both say hurtful things, and it takes them a while to learn to communicate and compromise.

They have the sex part down pat, though. I'm not typically a fan of phone sex, but these boys take it to a whole other level. Jesse is just a little bossy, and when he lets go, it's like WHOA.

Hard Wired, told from both Jesse and Ian's first-person POV, is angstier than the two previous books in the Cyberlove series. It was hard watching Jesse struggle with his scars.

The secondary characters, especially Jesse's cousin Beau, are fun and complex. I loved that every character, even those with a minor role, came alive on page. Zane, another Vblogger, does angsty and dark, and is the very opposite of Beau's relentless positivity. I smell a future pairing!

We see a little bit of Kai and Garrett here too. Jesse has a shirt for Kai's channel. And, yes, it has a red panda on it.

#unrequited no longer



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I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go into the library and read a good book.
~Groucho Marx







An ARC of this book was provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review. 

Download links are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with the book, author, publisher, or website listed.

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