Author: Santino Hassell
Series: The Community #1
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: 3/13/2017
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance, M/M Paranormal
Page Count: 320
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
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.
This book was good (it’s Santino), but I wasn’t in love with it. I know this is probably going to be an unpopular opinion but I have to give my honest opinion and… I think it could’ve been better. Santino’s books usually hook me on the first page, but I had a hard time getting into this one. Nate didn’t seem like a particularly charismatic until the middle of chapter 1 when he started interacting with other characters, and I’m not sure I would go that far. At best he was just less defensive and I didn’t see him as the strong MC that is usually indicative of Santino’s writing.
However, the book was written extremely well. Nate was well developed as a character, he had a complete backstory and once I got a few chapters in I had no problem staying interested. This was a single-sitting read for me and I got through it in just a few hours. I’m such a fan of the way Santino creates the worlds his characters live in. His writing and the relationships between characters are so complex that it feels real. His supporting characters are also never just supporting characters. They’re equally as complex and Santino really takes the time to explore their backgrounds and who they are as characters before he adds them to a story, which makes it really easy to get lost in his books and these stories that he writes.
In truth, I found it easier to connect to some of the supporting characters than I did to Nate and there was a complete disconnect where Trent was concerned. I really did not like Trent, and perhaps this is more for personal reasons. He seemed controlling and a little insecure to me, which wasn’t a healthy place for Nate to be. He constantly questioned Nate in the beginning of the novel and then decides it’s fine to just jump in bed with him one night after he gets drunk. Perhaps not the smartest move for either of them, but Trent seemed really hot and cold early in the book. There was one argument in particular that had me throwing up all kinds of red flags. Trent was constantly accusing Nate of not wanting him and fooling around with other people, he was extremely accusatory and didn’t seem to have a whole lot of trust in Nate not to betray him. Maybe he has a past here that I don’t know about that is causing him to act this way, but it gave me the creepy crawlies. That, coupled with the fact that Nate reacted to him like he was some kind of drug that he was addicted to and he NEEDED more of just put me on edge about their whole relationship and I really did not think he was a good match for Nate.
Usually Santino’s novels have romances that are so intense that I feel raw after reading them. Aside from a few heated encounters and cute Kodak moments in the car, I didn’t feel that intensity or closeness with these characters, which is a little disappointing. I think this novel would have been better from Elijah’s or Chase’s perspectives, and who knows, maybe I’ll get that in a future book. I’m definitely not abandoning the series just yet! I think this was a love story between two characters that I just couldn’t connect with, and sometimes that happens. The fact that I still consider this to be a 4 star novel even feeling the way I do about the two MC’s is due entirely to Santino’s talent as a writer and his incredible ability to pull me into his novels. I’m going to continue to read the series because I want to know Chase’s story and I really hope Book 2 of The Community series features either him or Elijah (or both) as MCs.