Well this is going to be a tough one...

Hard Wired - Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell

and not because I didn't love the book because holy hell, that's an understatement if ever there was one. Nope, it's more because there are already some really, really excellent reviews out there and I'm trying to figure out what I can say that hasn't already been said.

 

This series is amazing from the first book to this one, I've been more than a little impressed with every story. But I found 'Hardwired' felt just that tiny bit more real for me. While the Cyberlove series is fiction it's also very reflective of the world today. We live in an age of technology. An age that has both simplified and complicated out lives. I've read this series not from the perspective of someone who is part of the generation born to this new age, but as one of the parents of this generation. I've watched my children make those connections that are sometimes half a world away and I've silently sat back and prayed that the person my kid is putting so much faith and trust in has been who and what they said they were.  What I've come to realize with each of these books is that in some ways the more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

In each story we are given two people looking for a connection, someone who gets them like no one else ever has. Someone they can trust with the most precious thing they have...their heart. But nowhere was this more evident than in 'Hardwired'. 

 

We were introduced to both Jesse  and Ian/Cherrycakes/Cherise in 'Strong Signal', Kai and Garrett's story and they showed up again in 'Fast Connection', Dominic and Luke's story, but 'Hardwired' is their story and we get to find out how and why Ian needed to become both 'Cherrycakes' and 'Cherise'. 

 

Neither of these young men have had an easy life but between the two of them Jesse's has in many ways been the better life. Jesse is introverted and often times fails to speak up for himself and what he wants. While Ian's life has been filled with abuse, betrayal and rejection. All leading to the creation of Cherise. Cherise is the persona that he shows the world. It's who he becomes in order to deal with the world and feel in control. It's a part of him...his strength. Cherrycakes is the part of him that's allowed to be happy and have fun.

 

For me, Ian was heartbreaking. I've known this young man...oh, the name was different and on occasion so was the gender. But the person...the why and how of who they are...is real, they're out there trying to survive and find their way. I've known Jesse as well. he's that young person who never sees what the rest of us do. He's insecure and sure that he's lacking when in fact he's truly amazing. 

 

This was by far the most angst filled story of the group and maybe that's why it worked so well for me. This was not a story that would have felt real without the angst because sometimes life is full of drama and angst...that's just how it is. It was also a story filled with so much potential for future stories...Jesse's cousin and best friend Beau, TrashyZane, Lyrix, who I have to admit was probably one of my least favorite characters in the bunch but if he can have a story that gives him a bit of redemption...sign me up, I'll read that baby because I'm all about the stories where authors make me love a character that I had firmly planted on my 'Your a douchebag' list. Mostly because I believe in second chances and I like to be reminded that they're for everyone and not just the people that we like.

 

"Hardwired" wasn't a Cinderella story with a hearts and flowers ending it was a 'sometimes life sucks but I'm not going to let it win' story with an 'I got my man and I plan on keeping him' ending and I really, really like those stories because sometime in real life that happens too.

 

Santino Hassell and Megan Erickson may be writing stories about fictitious people but they are doing it with a flare of realism that defies many of the stories out there today and sometimes I need stories that take me out of the real world and let me forget about what's happening for a while but sometimes I like a story that reminds me that things can get better if we just keep trying.

 

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An ARC of "Hardwired" was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.