Author: Santino Hassell
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Fantasy Paranormal
Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Insight, book one of The Community.
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.
Whew! This book was much better than the first book, i.e., easier for me to follow, but the first has to be read before this one—this isn’t a standalone. And you have to set aside time and a location to be able to focus as you read these stories since the plot is so complex and the world-building unique.
For now, I can say that if you like the way Santino Hassell can take a supposedly rough character—literally or figuratively—and create a thing of beauty, you will love this story. On the surface, Sixtus Rossi should not be a loveable character, and yet he is—both for me and for his nemesis, Holden, or should I say his initial nemesis, but later lover, Holden? I also came to really appreciate Holden as this story went on and felt sad at his disillusionment over his father’s role in the Community, his mother’s apparent rebellious nature and current mental state, and in general, the bursting of his happy bubble of what he’d thought was reality. Nothing is as he believed it was, and that’s a hard pill for him to swallow.
On the other hand, he and Sixtus have an amazing attraction—amazing because Sixtus shouldn’t have the depth of feeling and emotional attachment he has with Holden. Sixtus is an Invulnerable in the psychic world—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. That’s why Holden’s father, Richard, the head of the Community, chose Sixtus as his “spy.” “He has a natural mental shield that prevents him from being susceptible to psychic abilities.” And yet, Holden gets glimpses of what’s behind Six’s shields and is shocked by what he sees. The men are most definitely attracted to one another and I must say the sex between the two is off-the-charts hot and some of the author’s best to date.
The emotion between them was sweet. “Holden had never been on the receiving end of a mushy declaration, but he’d just gotten one from a man whose brain prevented him from having empathy. It had to mean something.” And as we learn as the story goes on, it certainly does.
As a bonus, at least in my opinion, we get another chance to bond with Nate and Trent from Insight and their role in the final chapters of the story is crucial to Holden’s and Six’s success at the impossible task they’ve set for themselves.
If you’re looking for a highly complex plot with enough MM romance and scorch-the-sheets-sex to burn out your Kindle, and yet enough plot twists and turns to make you dizzy, consider this series. This one ends with a brief glimpse into what will be featured in the next story. Not so much a cliffhanger as a definite teaser, but I’ll be in line when it comes out, for sure.