About the Book
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.
The Finer Details
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Editor: Sarah Lyons
Cover Artist: Kanaxa Website
Story Arc: Series, The Community, book 2
Series Arc: new couple
Length: 242 e-book pages
POV: 3rd person, limited omniscience
Identities: Gay, Bisexual
Age Range(s): 22-25
Supernatural Elements: telepathy, psychics, empaths
Tropes & Tags: opposites attract, virgin
Setting/Locale: New York
Thoughts from the Back Porch
Advance Review Copy generously provided via A Novel Take PR.
I uhhh…I think I went way outside the lines in my review of the first book in this series, Insight, with all kinds of spastic, nerdy fangirl nonsense. I had fun though so I don’t regret it — I used maps and everything!
But, I think I have myself under control this time ‘round.
To say I was a bit eager for this book is an understatement.
Because, well, Santino’s stories are something to get excited about.
Oversight was on point. Maybe even more than Insight. But I think I’ve got a lock on the fangirl and can probably stay coherent enough to share my thoughts.
IDK, y’all. I’m still just really excited that Santino has gone down this paranormal road of telepathy and psychics and empaths and sprinkled in some dastardly and mysterious cultish business that’s slightly reminiscent of the whole Heaven’s Gate Hale-Bopp chasers. And he’s done it without missing any beats with the erotic romance arcs that keep us all clamoring for more.
Holden, son of one of The Community’s founders (AKA son of the head wacko), was not an easy guy to like in book one. He came across as that spoiled, entitled, egocentric dickwad rich kid who starred in every 80’s teen movie.
But, ya know, I get all kinds of happy when authors take that unlikable guy from one book and turn him into someone I can respect, like, root for to get their HEA in a later book.
I admit I underestimated Holden’s depths. He surprised me in a lot of good ways, with his level of empathy (not the psychic kind) and determination (once he got out of his own way). He was a challenge to warm up to and still probably not my most favorite character ever, but he definitely found some redemption I could respect.
And who knew it would take some Gigantor Terminator prototype to turn him around? Sixtus, y’all. Stoic, distant. Socially inept.
Ya know what’s probably really hard for an author? Writing a character worth caring about who has no social skills, no life in his eyes, not much personality, who’s more or less a cardboard cutout of a human and making him human, someone we want to find some happiness and life and freaking joy when they barely know what that is.
This is a guy ya just gotta watch from the sidelines and wait for him to bloom.
And for Holden to be that guy to get him there? (Well, as far as ‘there’ can be.)
To say this was opposites attract and a nigh-on impossible combination of character types who’d most likely get voted Most Likely To Never Hook Up Even On A Deserted Island in their high school’s Senior Superlatives is stating it MILDLY.
But it worked.
I had like, maybe one tiny moment where my admittedly feeble skills of suspending disbelief were tested, and my own side-eye jolted me right out of the story. So I chalk this up as a total win. There’s so much intricacy to the overall story arc and these characters who are deeper than they appear that I can’t fault the reading experience for that one, tiny little thing.
I might’ve also been hoping for a few more moments of intimacy between them. And not the kind that rattles the rafters. But the kind that would solidify them in my mind that, even if only a quiet and private thing between them, revealed they each had softer centers. And they did, sort of. I just wanted more of it. Probably because that’s one of my favorite things in romance, that quiet intimacy that only exists between two people who’re meant to be, despite the odds against them. Also I’m greedy.
And that end tho? Without giving away the details, you can be rest-assured that there’s an HEA for the characters. But MY GOD! This mysterious plot that’s arcing across this series just got serious and ended on a gasp of Holy Hell that will not be sated quite yet. I might’ve been cussing for a few hours after I finished. I might still be cussing now…and it’s been WEEKS, dammit.
Get on this series if you haven’t.
The man who walked into the office did not remotely resemble the teen boy who’d just strolled through his memories. Adult Sixtus was Holden’s height but corded with about thirty more pounds of muscle. His biceps were nearly bursting from the sleeves and his pecs were clearly visible beneath the tight black polo he wore, making the typically conservative style— look like the prequel to a stripping routine in Magic Mike. He also wore khaki pants so tight his thighs looked like they were being strangled. He’d paired the two articles of clothing with scuffed motorcycle boots with steel toes.
Holden didn’t make an attempt to hide his slow ogle, and dragged his eyes from boot to crotch to clavicle before taking in Six’s face. His fathomless black eyes were the only familiar feature in that olive complexed face. He had a full beard and mustache, thick black hair tied up in a bun, and wide lips that Holden wanted to suck on. Why did his sociopathic handler have to be a disgustingly sexy lumberjack hipster?
“Huh,” Holden said. “He’s filled out.”
Richard went back to pursing his lips but Sixtus didn’t even blink. He didn’t scan Holden or react to the intense eyefuck he’d just received. There seemed to be nothing behind those dark eyes. The effect was more disturbing when Holden, by default, reached out with his gift to get an impression. He’d expected a hint of impatience or irritation even if it was muted by the mental shield that was apparently always in place.
He half-expected to be shoved away and for a fist to crash into his face right before the taste of iron bloomed in his mouth, but it didn’t happen. The hands gripping him closed down harder, grinding bone and muscle, but that was the only way Six reacted. He was frozen as Holden stroked his tongue gently and coaxed it into a response before sucking it entirely into his mouth.
A groan muffled against him, low and quickly aborted, but Holden heard it. And he felt the way Six leaned into him. It was barely a response, but it encouraged Holden to pin Six against the door and dive into a hungry kiss. Slicking tongues, frantically moving lips, and a full body press that made it quite clear that Six was into this. His dick was fully rocked up in a way that could not be explained by anything other than arousal for Holden.
It was right about the time triumph usually exploded in Holden’s chest with invisible banners and balloons celebrating a conquest, but this time he felt apprehension. He didn’t want to end this kiss. He wanted Six to keep exploring the inside of his mouth with a delightfully frantic lack of finesse, and he wanted a genuine fucking smile once they were done. But that wasn’t in the cards. That wasn’t what this was about.
About the Author:
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.
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