Please note this book was reviewed prior to the revelation of author ’s identity and actions. Please read this statement from Riptide Publishing for more information.
Mature Content, by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Series: Cyberlove, Book 4
Release Date: June 2, 2017
My life plan is to be brutally honest all the way to the bank. Don’t believe me? I run a popular YouTube channel called TrashyZane, and my claim to fame is oversharing about every aspect of my personal life. Sometimes while tipsy. Not everyone loves my style, but I have a long history of icing out people who can’t handle me. I have no time for judgmental foolishness.
Except, apparently, when it comes to Beau Starr. His channel is the polar opposite of mine, and so is he. Wholesome, inspirational, and clean-cut. Everything about him should turn me off, but when we hook up following a confrontation at a convention, my world flips upside down. Not only does Beau Starr turn me on, he uses the exact combination of dirty talk and roughness needed to turn me out.
But we still hate each other. I think.
Internet Celebrities (YouTube)
I think it’s only fair that I start off by admitting that I approached Mature Content with some trepidation, mostly because I’d been underwhelmed by the previous Megtino collaboration. With that in mind, I found Mature Content to be a fun, sexy read and a nice addition to the writing duo’s wildly successful Cyberlove series.
I’ll admit, I did not expect to like Zane and Beau as much as I did. Both characters had been introduced in Hard Wired but neither of them had made a favorable impression on me at the time. The authors did a great job peeling back Beau’s squeaky clean facade and it didn’t take long for me to warm up to his character. And refreshingly, TrashyZane was not as messy as his name implied. He was unapologetic about who he was and had no qualms about sharing intimate details of his life to his legion of subscribers, but… he was far from trashy. I admired his self-confidence and take-no-shit attitude, and I adored his relationship with his bubbe (really, his grandmother was one of my favorite parts of this book).
Beau and Zane’s chemistry was intense and their kinky games were definitely hot. Their earlier… ahem run-ins were especially fraught with tension and I enjoyed the way the sex progressed from hateful to playful without losing any of its intensity. Straight-laced Beau had an unexpected Dommish streak that was like catnip to Zane, and I loved watching Zane completely lose his mind over this guy he’s supposed to be feuding with.
As expected, this book contained some YouTube drama and in-fighting – and not just between Beau and Zane – but it didn’t get particularly ugly. Overall, the book was quite light on the drama and except for the inevitable conflict, a lot of the personal angst was kept to a minimum. After seeing the negative side and pressures of fandom spotlighted in Hard Wired, I really appreciated that the fan interaction in Mature Content was super positive. Also, despite not being a YouTuber (I swear, at one point I actually wondered “Do any of these people have jobs or do they do this full-time?”) I have to say I enjoyed seeing these strong and distinct personalities bond, network, feud, and generally co-exist in their own microcosm, not just online but also in person.
So why only a 3.5-star rating? Because I couldn’t help but think that some crucial parts were glossed over or straight up missing. At times it almost felt like I was reading a novella because of the number of things that were only alluded to or otherwise felt under-developed. For instance, the whole deal with Beau’s ex (even though really obvious) had set a good story in motion but in the end was pretty throw-away. I would’ve also loved to have seen more happen on page when Zane reached out to his old friends. Reconnecting with them was a huge deal for Zane (rightfully so), and while I liked how they seemed to welcome him back with open arms, we didn’t see any of it happen. As a result, except for maybe Gail, Zane’s childhood buddies were pretty two-dimensional especially when compared to his Youtube friends Miguel and Debonair who were larger than life and all kinds of awesome.
But to be honest, I probably could’ve overlooked these things, if it weren’t for… wait for it… the missing Skype sessions. No seriously, don’t laugh, and stop judging me. There were several mentions of Skype sex(!) and none of this made it on page. The raw online exchanges and yes, the sizzling cybersex are some of the things that I love most about this series, so yeah, I was definitely disappointed. To add to that, I then got confused when the L word started creeping into Beau and Zane’s narrative after what seemed like mere weeks of texting, Skyping (!), a handful of very heated booty calls (ie. hate fucking) and a truce of sorts. While I liked the progression of their relationship and I could see where they were headed, it all just felt a little rushed.
The book ended on a sweet and sexy HFN in keeping with the light, playful feel of the book. I liked the understated (and to me realistic) epilogue and was happy to note that neither character seemed to have sold their souls or turned themselves inside out either personally or professionally in order to be happy together. I would definitely recommend this book if you’re a fan of the Cyberlove series. And if you aren’t yet, then I recommend you get right on that.
Megan Erickson worked as a journalist covering real-life dramas before she decided she liked writing her own endings better and switched to fiction. She’s a multi-published author with Avon, Berkley, and Entangled. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats.
Santino Hassell is a writer of queer romance heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.