Author: Santino Hassell
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Rating: 3 stars
Type: Novel in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Chase Payne is a walking contradiction. He’s the most powerful psychic in the Community, but the least respected. He’s the son of the Community’s founder, but with his tattoo sleeves and abrasive attitude, he’s nothing like his charismatic family. No one knows what to make of him, which is how he wound up locked in a cell on the Farm yet again. But this time, the only man he’s ever loved is there too.
Review: Chase Payne can’t leave the farm without Elijah Estrella. He won’t. Chase also can’t let anyone know his reasons for doing so. So, Chase has to play nice with his father and pretend to play along with his insanity. Chase has to pretend to understand and accept the years of torture and neglect he suffered. And he does, because he’s going to save Elijah. Chase and Elijah find themselves stuck between opposing groups, each with their own agenda. Basically everyone wants the ruination of everyone else. It’s great to have goals and all, but there are people who need to be rescued. The big picture can wait. Unfortunately for Chase, he’s going to have to figure out how to trust people. After a lifetime of conditioning Chase will have to trust that Elijah loves him.
I don’t even know where to start. For the most part I didn’t really like this book overmuch. It was fairly predictable and sort of just there. As a series I’m underwhelmed by the world building. The Community is basically just an extra-evil version of Scientology except the baddies have REAL mind control powers. I guess that’s compelling enough. As an examination of brothers, and an examination of how various characters feel about each other and how they perceive things this series was fascinating and excellent. Unfortunately that all got bogged down in drama and the occasional moments of preaching. So, here I go. I’ll start with what I didn’t like and finish with what I thought was well done.
Chase is supposed to be the smart one. He’s pointing out all the problems to everyone, showing them how they’re wrong, he’s a super powered psychic, they need him to save the day. I admit this is a pet peeve of mine and in the grand scheme of things isn’t important, but if you’ve got a super genius character please make sure he doesn’t misuse “begging the question.” Twice. All that work doing characterization over the course of the series, and I ended up rolling my eyes and laughing at the hero. Also, somewhere along the way I began to see Chase, with his slender build, white hair, and tattoos as Johnny Winter. I don’t even know how that happened. I’m a little peeved at my own brain’s powers to make connections. And Nate can be Edgar. The Blacks are even from Texas! More than anything I think my brain’s random wanderings were because I just didn’t find this book engaging. On top of that every time I see Elijah’s last name I think of “Shooting Star,” by Bad Company.
Elijah is Mexican. He sort of feels like a stereotype. He’s touchy feely, he says puto and abuelita, and he got kicked out by his grandparents when they found out he was gay. Is that the best we can get? Why can’t we have a character who has distinct opinions on the proper way to prepare elote? Why can’t we have a character who eats Doritos with Valentina? What would Elijah’s barbacoa playlist be? When watching Lucha Libre, does he root for the técnico or the rudo? Actually, since he loves Chase I’m pretty sure he’s rudo all the way, but Chase is secretly a técnico. I mean, he has been a good guy all along. Almost like falling in love was his great unmasking and he doesn’t have to be el Hijo del Payne anymore. But I digress. Regardless of how much is shown or not shown, Elijah is Mexican. I just want more. I want to see my friends on the page. Not just their bad words. And OMG how short is Elijah supposed to be? This was like the small guy version of the books that have Alphas who are almost 7 feet tall. Chase is always thinking of himself as small like the Blacks, and Elijah is smaller. Chase and his novio chaparritito. Tiny but oh so feisty.
Ultimately, Chase’s book is about trust. Can Chase trust Elijah. Can Chase trust the Community. Can Chase trust his own brothers. Kinda maybe? This was really well done. Chase wants to trust. He’s so desperate to trust. But he’s been so hurt, and he can’t even really trust himself. How do you trust a guy who watched his own brother get murdered and stood by and did nothing? For every step forward Chase takes 7/8ths of a step back. It’s important and appropriate Chase doesn’t get all the way to trust with everyone. What makes that really good is neither brother has the same opinion on their relationship. I had a lot of issues with this series, but would wholly recommend people read them just to see the wildly disparate perceptions of themselves and each other the brothers have. As a trilogy about brothers this does not disappoint.
Okay I lied. I have one more complaint. The Cali thing. Chase wants to move to Cali with his boyfriend from Wisco to be close to his brother who was originally from ‘Xas (pronounced Zass, of course). I get that being from New Y Chase wouldn’t realize Californians don’t say this. I dunno. Maybe I got it all wrong and Nate, Trent, Elijah, and Chase all moved to Colombia. In a series about psychics stranger things have happened.