Published by: Riptide Publishing
Format: epub, print
Genre: paranormal, mm, romance
Reviewed by: Sara Beth
What to Expect: A beautifully packaged nugget of paranormal bliss that has as much substance inside as that cover promises it will.
Plot: Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate.
Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.
Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.
Review: I have been waiting for this book. I read a ton of paranormal. Like, a lot. It’s easy for me these days to pick up a title in this subgenre and put it down at about 25% in, usually because it’s not giving me anything fresh to keep my attention. It sucks, because it’s what I want to read.
Turns out now all I want to read is the next installment of this series.
I am familiar with this author’s work, and to date, this piece is the one that truly showcases his talent for creating both a story and characters that the reader can confidently invest in. The return is totally worth it.
The developing relationship between Nate and Trent, as well as Nate’s investigation into his brother’s death, are well paced. Both plots have a level of depth and complexity I found satisfying to read. The prose manages to achieve a cutting edge that is frequently softened by an eloquent style, creating a balance that is difficult to render as skillfully as Hassell manages to here. The world building centers around the Community, which itself poses a puzzle to both Nate and the reader. Nothing in this story is what it seems, and about when I thought I had certain things figured out, I was proven wrong.
The story is unpredictable, the vibe is intense, and while it seems pretty dark, Nate’s journey to find his way into a light of his own makes this a worthy read for those who love paranormal romance. Ultimately, Hassell gives us enough to tie up Nate’s story while making it clear that this is just the beginning for everybody involved with the Community.
What you might not like: There should probably be a trigger warning for incest, thought this might show up in the published version. Also, some of the language in the beginning is repetitive, but give it a chance – definitely worth it, as Hassell seems to find his feet as he moved through the first two chapters.
What I Loved: What lingered with me each night after I put this book down wasn’t the steam, which was well done and hot **cough**. The romance is solid – it has depth that makes it believable, and happy ending that isn’t rushed, but well earned and clearly well thought out. Also – PSYCHICS. This is my jam.
Even so, what really touched me was the evolution of Nate from a pawn to a player. When we first meet Nate, it’s clear that he is unsure of who he actually is outside of the family, community, and empathic ability that have steered his life.
He is the black sheep of the small Texas town he grew up in and the biggest misfit in a family made of misfits. He’s been bullied by his classmates, discounted by his aunt, betrayed by his twin brother, and lied to by one of the only people he actually cares about, his uncle.
He has no true concept of his own worth. He’s allowed everything outside of him eat away at who he is inside. He works a dead end job in a town he hates, and spends his time avoiding his family and dodging online connections out of sense of self-preservation. It’s only his vision of his brother’s death, which conflicts with what has been determined to be a suicide, that finally gives him a purpose.
While Nate’s intention is to uncover what happened to his twin, he inadvertently exposes family history that tears holes in everything he’s known to be true. As he progresses from Texas to New York, he escapes the cloying heat he previously floated through, becoming more and more grounded the further north he goes, until he hits his destination. Interestingly, the further he moves from living family, the closer he gets to understanding the mother and the twin he has lost.
Ultimately, Nate painstakingly untangles who he is outside of everything that has always allowed to define him, finds a love he can trust and depend on, and becomes the guy who sets the board, not the guy who gets moved around on it.
It was a fantastic and well captured evolution of a character, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Sara Beth loves to read, write about what she reads, and really, really loves to talk about what she’s reading. So, she looks forward to many hours of conversation with you all surrounding books, books, and more books. Sara hosts the column Binge Worthy Books and all her reviews can be found here.
Connect via Twitter: @sarathebeth