Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by QOTU. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Mid-Length Contemporary category.

The summary:

After a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic ‘Nicky’ Costigan–the skirt-chasing player. They don’t know I’ve been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys.

When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it’s for one-night only. That’s fine with me, because I’m down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn’t take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again.

He’s got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he’s as addicted to me as I am to him. He can’t resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke’s rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated.

Here is QOTU’s review:

Beware, the following was written by a parenthesis addict.

So, this is the third time I have read Fast Connection. I read it once when it came out, once before book 3 in the series came out, and now for Smart Bitches. I actually liked it more this time! Maybe because I was reading it more critically than when I just read it quickly for the story without paying as much attention to the actual writing.

Fast Connection is the second book in a series of three so far, although there is an obvious set up for a fourth couple in book 3. I have read them all. It has two authors, but all three of the books read very smoothly – no obvious handing off between them. This book is actually the most removed from the overall premise of the series, so it could easily be read as a stand-alone. If you, like me, have “Experienced Romance Reader” (TM pending) brain, you can fill in the back story pretty easily. Basically, the series revolves around the world of Twitch gaming, which is when people watch other people play video games over the Internet and can pay them to do so. (That is an actual thing in real life, in case you were wondering.) Books 1 and 3 concern people working in the community, but this book is about a friend of Book 1’s hero who doesn’t even play the World of Warcraft-inspired in-book game. His teenage sister does, however, and that is a source of plot later in the novel.
Our heroes are Dominic and Luke. They both identify as bisexual. (The book is refreshingly free from any doubting of bisexuality as an orientation.)

The romance tropes include May/December relationships, becoming an adult in the world, self-esteem issues, avoiding love because it’s too much trouble, major family drama, and hot tempers. There’s also a little “we’re connected but we don’t know it” thrown in. And because I know someone will ask, it’s told in alternating first person. (Just Dominic and Luke – not the whole cast).

We met Dominic in the previous book, where he suffered a little gay panic while in the Army hooking up with Garrett from book 1. He is over that now and ready to dive into being with a man! So, of course he signs up for Grindr. He is having trouble getting his civilian life together and is stuck living and working with his parents. He feels like he has no direction in life other than that he doesn’t want to kill people anymore. Luke is an established landscaper who has two children who live with him during the week. On the weekends, the twins go to their mother and he does the Grindr thing. His rule is no repeats. He doesn’t want his life to be complicated by a lover. He wants to focus completely on being a father and a business owner. He relates to Dominic, though, because Luke was also in the Army and had to build a life after he was discharged. (He has some baggage about the Army, too, since he was kicked out after being discovered with a man.)

Dominic used to be called Nicky C. by everyone in their Staten Island town, so Luke doesn’t realize that Dominic is the older brother of Luke’s son’s assumed girlfriend. (The kids say they aren’t a couple repeatedly throughout the book.) Luke won’t give Dominic his contact info (they message each other through the Grindr app only), so Dominic doesn’t know Luke’s last name is the same as his sister’s only friend. Eventually, they figure that out and make it through only to have a second giant blow-up when the kids sneak out of their respective houses and go to Boston for a gamer convention. (Finally, we briefly see the other characters – but you don’t need to know anything about them for these scenes to work.) Both characters struggle with feeling like they have to choose between their lover and their family and feeling like the other doesn’t get it.

I liked the story. There is an adorable running bit about Dominic and after-sex sandwiches. People did think about their actions and then make changes. For the most part, they were upfront about their feelings. The drama was a little overblown and contrived, but not so much that I wanted to hurl the book/phone. Dominic was charming and Luke’s grumpiness was endearing. The theme of family rang pretty true. The story is light hearted, which can be harder to find in M/M. No hate crimes, internalized homophobia, or gender politics! I would give the book an A-.

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Fast Connection by Megan Erickson

July 11, 2016

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