Published by: Self pub
Genre: Contemporary M/M romance
Order at: Amazon
Reviewed by: Erin
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.
Hey reader, do you like bisexuals? Because I do. Boy oh boy, do I love some good bisexual representation in romance novels. Fast Connection features two bisexual men in a relationship that doesn’t minimize, demean, or dismiss their previous relationships, including their relationships with women. Luke’s ex-wife and their former relationship are treated with love and affection, while making it clear why these two people, as terrific as they are separately, couldn’t make a marriage work. This kind of representation of both bisexuals and women (and exes!) is sadly so rare in romances that I wanted to highlight that right away.
Dominic has dated mostly women, but experimented with men in the Army. He’s left the service and is home, working at his family’s deli, and living in his old room at his parents’ house. Dominic is a cheerful, good-time party guy, sweet and charmingly direct. He’s a precious donut who very sincerely texts all his exes to see if he was good in bed, in possibly my favorite scene in the book. However, he’s never one-dimensional. The book doesn’t dwell on his Army service or any particular trauma, but his service has clearly left an impact. Dominic doesn’t want to go back to the Army because he doesn’t want to be the guy pointing guns at people. He doesn’t really fit in with his old buddies at the bar, because he’s seen and done too much shit in the eight years he’s been gone. He’s the guy who gets along with everyone he meets, but doesn’t really have anyone to anchor him.
Luke is nothing but anchored. He’s older, (yay, older hero!) he’s the primary parent of teenage twins, he owns a home and a business, and his best friend is his ex-wife. Luke has, in his opinion, everything he needs. There’s no need to complicate it with relationships, and he has some painful personal history to back that belief up. He hooks up with dudes on Grindr on the weekend, puts all his love and energy into his business and his kids during the week, and ruthlessly denies himself any other kind of connection. Of course, Dominic Costigan, good-time bro, Chris Evans-looking motherfucker, has to go and ruin his carefully compartmentalized life in the most satisfying way. I love Luke’s relationship with his kids and his ex, Nadia, but you can feel his loneliness radiating off the page as you read.
Santino tends to write “so real it hurts” books that can hit painfully close to home on a lot of fronts. Megan writes less painful books, but writes amazing women and really terrific female friendships. And they both write complicated families and found families so well.
But together? Literary fiction authors have wet dreams about writing this authentically. Luke and Dominic, Staten Island, their families…the relationships all feel recognizable, the use of technology woven through the book makes it feel current, and the financial issues/state of the economy woven with the family crap felt so painfully real. This isn’t the fantasy land of a small-town romance, or some sanitized version of New York; these are people you know having relationships that make sense. (Don’t get me wrong, I love those fantasy-contemporaries. This just doesn’t fit that mold.)
In that vein, I want to discuss Dominic’s father. There are some scenes that readers may find triggering or upsetting with Dominic’s father, and some may feel unsatisfied or unhappy that he isn’t written off as the bad guy. I didn’t feel that way, but I can see how others might. Real people are complicated and difficult. Drowning in money problems is something I know a lot about, and I know how it can twist up every aspect of your thinking. I also know that, for better or worse, people put up with a lot of shit from their families that they wouldn’t otherwise take from other people, and people in real life don’t cut off/abandon their families as often as it happens in romance novels. Duffy, Dominic’s father, is in a spiral of bad decisions and self-loathing, and Dominic is coming back home as a changed adult, ready to challenge him. Their interactions are painful to read at times, and I appreciate the restraint with which that relationship was written.
I don’t want to give the impression that this is some dour, gritty character study of a book. This is your classic “we were fucking and whoops, we grew feelings” romance novel with a big, dramatic ending and tons of hot sex and lots of genuine laugh-out loud moments. I don’t want to spoil too much of the book, but other than the primary relationship there are several external forces that ramp up the tension and make you read even faster. Like Strong Signal, I sat down to read it and didn’t do anything else with my life until I was done. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and I hope you love it as much as I do.
Now I’m going to go reread it.
What you may not like: No clear-cut bad guys, just complicated humans. There are some upsetting scenes portraying family dysfunction and brief violence.
What you will love: The incredible writing, the hot sex, Dominic being his precious self, bisexuals!!!, many different kinds of women who are respected, and kids that feel like real kids