Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Review by Lauren
source: personal copy; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: I was counting down the months until the end of my deployment. My days were spent working on military vehicles, and I spent my nights playing video games that would distract me until I could leave Staff Sergeant Garrett Reid behind.
That was when I met him: Kai Bannon, a fellow gamer with a famous stream channel.
I never expected to become fixated on someone who'd initially been a rival. And I'd never expected someone who oozed charm to notice me—a guy known for his brutal honesty and scowl. I hadn't planned for our online friendship to turn into something that kept me up at night—hours of chatting evolving into filthy webcam sessions.
But it did. And now I can't stop thinking about him. In my mind, our real life meeting is perfect. We kiss, we fall into bed, and it's love at first sight.
Except, like most things in my life, it doesn't go as planned.
|I've read all of Megan Erickson's M/M novels and loved them all, so I was really excited to see that she was coming out with another title but co-writing with someone else. Now I MUST read Santino Hassell's novels because Strong Signal was fantastic. Honestly, I have no idea how the two of them broke up the writing but it all felt seamless and you would never know that two people were writing.|
The premise of this novel is that Garrett is overseas in the Army and he comes across a fellow gamer named Kai. The two of them start talking via email, then move to chat so they can talk in 'real time' and finally, they start to use Skype to really get to know one another. I thought the romance was great, because it does make note of how it might seem strange to fall for someone online. As a person who has made many friends online - and even met quite a few of them in person - I can definitely see how you can grow a relationship over the internet. People tend to open up more in writing or through a webcam than if they were sitting face to face.
This is true for Garrett and Kai. Normally, Garrett isn't great with people. He doesn't smile a lot, so people tend to see a stern-faced soldier and don't want to get closer. As for Kai, his social anxiety has turned him into a hermit of sorts, someone who feels much safer inside his own home and won't venture past it except to a neighbor's apartment. Talking to Garrett makes him want to try harder though, and once the two meet in person after Garrett comes home, Kai wants to try ever harder. It's not easy though. I liked that the authors showed this. I know what it's like to have social anxiety and I can see how some people with it could find themselves completely avoiding certain situations. Kai makes his money online, so by doing that, he eliminates his need to leave the house for any reason.
I really liked the relationship between Garrett and Kai. They felt real, and not everything was picture perfect, even though it's easy to tell they are good for each other. I can't wait for the companion novel!