Publisher: Megtino Press
Rating: 2.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon
Type: Novel in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There’s a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life.
But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I’ve known online for years. And he’d known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends.
Now we’re back online, and he’s acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don’t plan to let him forget.
Review: Jessie Garvy is at a con! He’s there for Kai and will be on a panel with Cherry. Jesse finds himself transfixed by the artist Cerise. He is gorgeous. Ian Larsen recognizes Jesse immediately. As Cerise he befriends Jesse. As Ian he spends a wonderful night with Jesse. Jesse isn’t so happy when he finds out Cerise/Ian is Cherry. They both respond poorly but salvage the situation. After some time and things cool down, Jesse and Ian start communicating online. Things grow serious. When Ian visits Jesse in California they simultaneously hit it off far better than they expected and expose all the problems in their relationship. Things need to change and compromises need to be made for a lasting, in person relationship to form.
I’d just like to start out by saying I deeply loved Strong Signal. Nothing will ever change that. Even if this series eventually devolves into nothing but meaningless letters and symbols strung together I will still heartily recommend Strong Signal to anyone and everyone who asks me what to read. However; as of right now I’ll tell people to stop after the first two books in this series.
This book is set in Texas and California, mostly California, and the only Hispanic in the book is Boricua in the Twitch chat. Regular readers know this is Ray Rodriguez. He’s in every book. I hate to say this, but I’m beginning to find that uncomfortable. It’s starting to feel a little like fetishism. But, California wasn’t completely whitewashed. There was a Black woman in LA, and a Filipina in Santa Cruz. They even had names! It felt like tokenism.
Thirty seconds of research is all it takes to see a plurality of Californians are Hispanic. To put it extra-super bluntly, there are more Hispanics in California than white people, yet this book has nothing more than token representation of people of any color. I’ll get back to why this upset me so much.
This book is in alternating first person perspectives. Consequently it’s a lot of telling. I prefer showing but have no problem enjoying first person narratives. One of the main themes of the book is the importance of representation. Another is the importance of acceptance. Ian has mental health issues as a result of his time in foster homes. He uses clothing and the persona of Cerise as a defense mechanism. Jesse wants him to be Ian. Jesse loves Ian. Ian is aware Cerise is a significant and needed aspect of himself and Jesse needs to accept Cerise if he’s going to get Ian. In a moment of explosive honesty with Kai, Ian says people need to be accepted warts and all. Love isn’t only for the beautiful people who don’t have problems. If you love someone you accept their baggage. Unless you’re Lyrix, who is the baddie of the book. Lyrix really is quite the tool. He’s also someone who appears to be self medicating with alcohol and lashes out in his anger and becomes aggressive when he feels threatened. Jesse had to change to get Ian, Lyrix was flat out unacceptable, and Ian had to be accepted. In the end, there wasn’t really much compromise. Jesse changed for Ian.
I don’t want to omit there was something in this book I really loved. Yes, I said loved! Jesse and Ian communicated with each other and had issues they had to resolve. There was a beautiful reality to that. There wasn’t a big trope that threw them together. No big misunderstandings or grand gestures. There was conflict and resolution, and it was good. Unfortunately it was stuck in a book I don’t like. Whatever, I wasn’t promised a rose garden.
If representation matters then representation matters. If acceptance matters then acceptance matters. This book talked up a great game then showed a radically different reality. No matter how much I want to beat about the bush and not admit this, that’s hypocrisy.