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
5 GAYMER LOVE CROWNS
Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell have created, yet again, another set of characters and plot line that does so much more than tell a romance. It tells of complex characters who are struggling with many different facets of their life, addresses some difficult topics or issues that plague any type of relationship. So not only do these stories give readers an enjoyable romance, it sheds light on social issues, making it so much more valuable to the romance community.
These characters, just like all of the other ones, are so multi-faceted, and while both Ian and Jesse are damaged in different ways, the effects of their pasts have an impact on their behavior and interactions with each other. Jesse, I pictured as the quintessential surfer boy, who needs a ton of confidence to pursue his dreams. He is kind at his core and supportive to a fault at times, but his development as a result of his interactions with Ian makes him a character who I really ended up enjoying. The character, though, that underwent the biggest evolution is Ian/Cherrycakes/Cherise. It is important to name all of his personas because he is all of these people, and as the story progresses, the readers see each of these tiny pieces of him. Even when he is with Jesse as Ian, there are moments when Cherise comes out, or when he is being supportive, Cherrycakes has made his appearance. This may seem odd, but it beautifully exemplifies how people are more than just one attribute, as they are complex and have layers. The reader fully understands Ian’s need to have these personas to protect himself from judgment and the pain it causes. What will truly garners reader sympathy for Ian is, as the story progresses, readers recognize that these personas are just masks, his confidence being the biggest one. In a different way, but just like Jesse, Ian needs the confidence that comes from being loved and accepted for who he is. The confidence needs to be real versus a shield he holds up until he can fall apart alone. Both of these characters, while incredibly different are searching for the same thing.
The confidence and support that both of these characters need, they find in each other. This is an aspect I’ve come to expect from this series. These characters are often facing serious restrictions that are either self-imposed of imposed by others, but through their relationship, through the love and support of their significant other in the book, there is healing and growth, and these characters are made better by the love they have found, truly showcasing what true love can do.
The plot of these story tells of the development of Jesse and Ian as a couple. Watching them struggle with who they are and who they want to be, feeling as though they aren’t worthy of each other, and finally recognizing that they are not only worthy of each other but better together is a beautiful journey to watch. Seeing Jesse begin to take chances, to finally get a backbone and stand up for the people he loves, and to take a chance on love is beautiful, but no one’s development can take away from Ian’s. Watching him mesh all of these personalities together, embracing his relationship with Jesse, and working on his insecurities makes my heart flutter with joy, because these two men deserve to be happy. This is also a story of acceptance, especially from the person who loves you. When loving someone, acceptance of every single layer, of all parts of them is required, recognizing what they need to feel safe and secure, and as their significant other offering unconditional support is invaluable. But it isn’t just blind acceptance, it is blending the two together, about holding onto what makes a person feel safe while making room for more. Their journey truly showcases how accepting and supportive love should be, and the evolution of these two characters, just like the previous books, will suck readers into this story from the opening pages.
I love this series so much. The characters’ complexities and development over the course of these novels is inspiring and hopeful, the social issues that are exposed and discussed are valuable, and at the end of every single book the message of these books is clear, love is love. These men have the same issues, insecurities, challenges as everyone else, and more importantly these novels show they all people are worthy of love and acceptance and support.
ARC received in exchange for an honest review.
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
10 Questions with Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
What do you think the impact of M/M and F/F is on the romance world, readers, writers, or society as a whole? Do you see these novels as a voice for equality?
Santino: Ultimately, I’d like to think that queer romance novels show people that love stories are love stories regardless of the gender or orientation of the main characters. Ultimately, romance is about hope, optimism, and happy endings, and everyone deserves those things.
What is the most important thing that people don’t know about your subject/genre that they need to know?
Megan: I think I would say that every experience is unique? I think it’s why we need a variety of queer voices writing LGBTQ lit, because experiences are so vast.
What did you edit out of this book?
Megan: It was more like what we edited in. We amped up Jesse’s family conflict and fleshed out Ian a little more. The book felt so much more complete after revisions! (which is the goal of revisions, haha)
What was the toughest scene to write in Hard Wired?
Santino: For me, it was writing through Ian’s darkest moments of insecurity. There are two Ians in this story–the one who is confident and brash and sexy while he’s at cons, and the Ian who thinks he isn’t capable of love because of all he’s been through growing up.
What is your favorite character from the Cyber Love series? Why?
Santino: I would say… Dominic Costigan from FAST CONNECTION. He was so fun to write as he transitioned from a bully who was uncomfortable with his sexuality to being so comfortable with his sexuality that he’s trying to penetrate the armor of this stone cold alpha dude.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Megan: I’ve said this before, but I’m pretty obsessed with Bey Deckard’s pirate series – Baal’s Heart. It’s great m/m/m and full of cool paranormal stuff and really sexy. And plotted really well too!
Who inspired you to become a writer?
Santino: Poppy Z Brite. Everything from his prose to his engaging characters inspired me. Lost Souls and Drawing Blood were two of the first novels I’d ever read with queer characters besides pulp fiction. Drawing Blood in particular made me want to write queer romance because the relationship between the two main characters was as central to the plot as the other elements.
Which of your characters are you most like? Why?
Megan: I think I’m a mix of Kai and Jesse. I have Kai’s personality and anxiety and Jesse’s insecurity.
Santino: In Cyberlove, I would say a mix of Ian and Zane. Buuut you haven’t met Zane yet. 😉 He’s a hot mess and embraced it to the point of it being his brand.
What is your biggest writing distraction? How do you overcome it?
Megan: Social media! And I use a program called Freedom that shuts off my wi-fi for a block of time. I depend on it now. I turn it on and write in short bursts.
Santino: Same as Megan, but at this point I think Pacemaker is helping me to stick to my deadlines and be on target. It’s an awesome writing program!
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Check out All the Books in the Cyberlove Series
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.