Note: This ARC was provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.
“I told you, Ian. I’m different with you. I don’t psych myself out. I go for it.”“What are you going for, though? What do you want to happen?”“I want you to tell me the truth now that I’ve told you the truth,” he said. “Please?”“The truth is hard. Being myself is scary.”“I know that, but if I’m willing to be brave for you… Maybe you could do the same.”
On all things that are holy, I swear this book is everything. EVERYTHING. And I rarely say that about a book. Yes, I'll say how much I loved, adored, and squeed over it, but this third novel in the Cyberlove series simply played me like a fiddle and not only did I let it but I enjoyed every damn second of it. Gah! I know, I know. I'm totally fangirling, and I've done that with Megan Erickson's and Santino Hassell's books that they've published independent of each other, but I tell you, when these two get together, it's like kismet and we're all the fortunate bookaholics who get to bask in all their combined greatness. It's difficult enough trying to get a series off the ground and working as a team, what more keeping that same level of quality storytelling and character development as the series progresses? Well, suffice it to say that Megtino seem to have no problems on either front and I, for one, am one hell of a happy puppy. Hard Wired isn't just on my list of top reads for 2017 but on my list of all-time favorites ever.
If you've read Strong Signal--and if you haven't, shame on you!--then Garvy and Cherrycakes should be familiar supporting characters, and they make an appearance in Fast Connection as well, with the FallenCon overlapping there and in Hard Wired. So yes, not only do we get Kai Bannon and Garrett Reid but we have a cameo appearance from Dominic Costigan and Luke Rawlings. Add to that actually learning more about Jesse Garvy and Ian Larsen, the young men behind Garvy and Cherry! This isn't really a spoiler since fans of the series and the synopsis for the book itself mention FallenCon. Also, there's more to the story than what happens at the convention, although, of course, this is where and when Garvy and Cherry meet face to face for the first time, except Garvy meets Cerise first, but then they allow their real life selves come out and simply be, but while Jesse and Garvy are one and the same, Ian has Cherry the mod and Cerise the fan-artist as separate splinters of himself, with complications arising.
At twenty-six and living in Santa Cruz, California, Jesse Garvy is happy being a moderator for Kai Bannon's Twitch channel, but he quietly hopes to have his own channel where he can review games, if only he had to confidence to start it up. Away from his computer, he works at a surf shop while handing over his hard-earned money to his parents when ever they come a-calling. He's just realized that he's gay and the first guy to captivate him happens to be twenty-four-year-old Dallas, Texas resident Ian Larsen. Ian's a fan-artist and graphic designer who dreams of taking his graduate studies at the prestigious California Institute of Arts or CalArts. But Ian relies heavily on his online personas, uneasy at simply being Ian. Cherrycakes is the bubbly mod for Kai's channel and Cerise is the broody artist on social media. These two could very well end up falling for each other, but they've got issues--both as individuals and as a couple--and the biggest one being who exactly it is Jesse's falling for: Ian, Cerise, or Cherry?
I confess, I shed a few tears at pivotal points in the story. Well, they were pivotal to me, at least. There were parts of Jesse and parts of Ian that I recognized within myself. The anxiousness and self-doubt, the constant worry, the need for some form of security--these were things that I know all too well. Then there's both of them not having enough faith in their capabilities, thinking that what they wanted was nothing more than a pipe dream and already thinking the worst. These two reflected bits and pieces of me, and their struggles were familiar and I empathized. I understood them both and maybe that's why it was so easy to fall in love with them and their story. There's a false sense of security we get when we're online, believing that the anonymity can protect us from sharing too much and getting hurt. But when you take that risk, the rewards--like Jesse and Ian finding each other and themselves and falling in love--are limitless. Five-plus stars times infinity for Hard Wired. Dare I hope Beau and Zane are next? ♥
Read my reviews for the Cyberlove series:
Strong Signal (book one) - five-plus stars - My Review
Fast Connection (book two) - five-plus stars - My Review
Hard Wired (book three) - five-plus stars - My Review (posted above)
Release Date: 13 February 2017
Date Read: 12 February 2017