Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Insight, book one of The Community.
Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.
Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man-bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an Invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.
As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.
Note: Oversight is not a stand alone novel. Though each book in the series features a different couple, there is a definite story arc that runs through all the books. It is very important to read them in order.
Wow. Ok. Santino Hassell has done it again. I was at the edge of my seat for the second half of this book and so many things are coming together, but we don't have a lot of answers yet. The story is part paranormal, part suspense and 100% fantastic. I tell you what, this series is magic. The Community is the perfect melding of paranormal and grittiness that I've never found by another author. And all the world building from Insight payed off, too, making Oversight a little faster paced.
Holden Payne was a character I both liked and didn't, in Insight. He first appeared to be a spoiled privileged guy who was not used to hearing the word "no". But as the story progressed, it was clear that Holden really wasn't a bad guy. A bit naive, yes, but he is not his father. Holden has spent his life trying to matter and trying to make sure other queer psy's have a safe space. He's not the selfish, narcissistic prick some folks make him out to be. Has he used his gift to his advantage? Most definitely. But he doesn't use it to hurt others.
But after the events of Insight, Richard Payne has decided to make Holden - his own son - the fall guy. So, he assigns him a new handler -- Sixtus Rossi and sets out to make Holden fail.
Sixtus (sexy name for a sexy man), or Six, is an Invulnerable, which means that he can't be read or influenced by other psychics. His shield is so strong, actually, that he also lacks empathy and so he can't read other people. He's learned to work with physical queues, since he can't use psychic ones, but as a result, he is socially awkward and very direct. And I loved that. Six is a man that no one ever has really figured out. Richard Payne uses him like he does everyone -- as a tool. But he's not the only one that underestimates what Six is really capable of. Six may have spent more than a decade on the Farm, but he is more focused and stronger than anyone realizes.
I really enjoyed seeing Holden so far out of his element. He's so used to being able to use his abilities to see or feel what other people are feeling -- that apparently has come in handy during sex, in the past. But with Six, Holden has to use more mundane skills to try and get under Six's skin...or under Six, as the case may be. He's attracted to Six, for sure, and the feeling is mutual, but at first, Holden's only goal was to get information out of Six using whatever methods were required. But as they got closer, they each discover that their connection is deeper than either of them ever thought it could be.
Trust doesn't come easy, though, for either of them. Holden has always thought that the Community was a good thing. But he's come to distrust his father, and therefore anyone his father sends is suspect. And Six has his own reasons for caution, too.
Santino Hassell knows how to take a character who lacks empathy and social skills and make them someone you not only like, but downright love. He did this in ICoS, with Hsin, and he does it here, too. He makes you feel for Sixtus and want to protect him -- even though Six is someone that does not need protecting. I loved Six. Loved.
The tone of the series is so perfect and edgy with just a bit of creepiness and suspense thrown in to keep you on your toes. I've got my ideas about what is going on, but Santino has never failed to surprise me in the end, so I'm really looking forward to the series conclusion.
Oversight ends on a cliffie regarding the series story arc. And while Holden and Sixtus are together, I can't promise that they're safe. Yet. Things are heating up between the Community and ex-Comm and I have no doubt in my mind that the next book will hit the ground running and will keep us all at the edge of our seats as the story resolves.
In case I haven't mentioned it, I am really looking forward to the next book, Sightlines (which features a different couple). I need to see how everything resolves. I also need to find out if that one person is who I think it is. I know -- vague -- but that is the way it must be. Trust.
I, most definitely, recommend this series!
ARC of Oversight was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
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