#Review — Oversight (The Community) #2 Santino Hassell — Available Now!
Series: The Community - Book Two
Author: Santino Hassell
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publication Date: June 26, 2017
Page Count: 242
Cover by: Kanaxa
Genre: Suspense/Thriller, Paranormal, Romance
—Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Insight, book one of The Community.—
Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty.
But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.
Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.
As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down.
And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.
There was something about having a six-foot-six bouncer kneeling between his thighs that left an indelible impression on Holden.
In his youth, the big guys had always refused to suck him off. They’d also refused to bend over for him. It would have been fine had the refusals not been tinged with the undeniable odor of disdain for men who enjoyed such acts. Even as a teenager, Holden had not been there for anyone’s toxicity or self-loathing fuckery. He was there for sex, not therapy. If he wanted therapy, he’d go to the Community Watch and overshare with Community counselors about his sexual frustrations like so many other people did.
Instead, he’d gravitated to twinks and—back when the term was an accepted part of the gay lexicon—flamers. Men who didn’t feel obligated to perform society’s version of masculinity. And it’d been fine at first, but he was attracted to many, so why limit himself to a few?
A decade later, all that had changed. The world hadn’t run out of toxic self-loathing men, but sexual hang-ups seemed to fall away as people got older, and the millennials seemed to be born without them. Holden’s thirties had definitely been more fun than his twenties. People were more willing to go out of their comfort zones, and that he was definitely here for. Especially if it came in the form of six-foot-six Vikings.
Not only was the allegedly straight giant more talented than expected with his tongue, but he’d had no hesitations about gracing his boss with some oral attention before Evolution opened for the evening. Holden hadn’t needed to soothe overactive hetero nerves with his psychic abilities—Stefen’s eagerness had been one hundred percent genuine. Now here he was, proving to the world—or just to Holden—that more men than the general public liked to believe were willing to get on their knees for the right queer.
“Faster,” he said, stroking the shiny red hair falling around his thighs. “Take it all the way down.”
A muffled sound answered the suggestion.
Holden was glad Stefen couldn’t talk. He was a new employee at Evolution, and he hadn’t proven to be the brightest bulb in the box they’d been hurriedly trying to fill for the past few months. All it had taken was another big scandal, this one bigger than the others, to clear the Community’s only LGBT club of its staff. People were starting to think it was cursed. Or targeted.
In a way, they were right.
When the disappearances had begun, Holden hadn’t found a connection between the psys who’d wound up vanishing from his nightclub, but no matter what the rumor mill had claimed about his lack of action . . . he’d tried. Then Theo’s apparent suicide had turned his concern into outright terror. In all of their interactions, he’d never sensed the younger man had been a threat to himself. Just Evolution’s reputation. Holden’s reputation. And by default, his father’s and the Community’s.
The events leading up to Theo’s death had been a storm looming just beyond Evolution’s location on Tenth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, a menacing darkness that had sent unease slithering along Holden’s body, but the murder of Theo’s boyfriend, Jericho, had sealed it for Holden. There was no denying that something wasn’t right with the club after a crowd of club goers had swarmed the Dreadnought’s bass player in a sudden homicidal fury. It had to be connected to Theo and the disappearances Theo had been investigating. Yet Holden had never imagined the mastermind behind it all was the woman his own father had sent to watch over him. To make sure he wasn’t screwing up. What were the odds?
What were the odds.
Coincidences didn’t feel good. They didn’t look good or smell good. Especially not when he was surrounded by people with extrasensory abilities—people who should have seen her coming. But they hadn’t. His own father hadn’t.
Holden closed his eyes and tilted his head back. He massaged Stefen’s scalp and focused on the wet heat surrounding his dick. It should have been enough to keep his thoughts from wandering down dark paths with unknown end points, but it wasn’t. His constant worrying and wondering had kept him awake most nights for the past several months because he had no idea what to expect. As powerful as his gift of empathy was, it did nothing to clue Holden in about what other unfortunate incidents would occur in the future and give the coup de grâce to both Evolution and his position in the Community.
Stefen abruptly pulled off his dick, leaving it glistening with spit. “Are you gonna come?”
“Not even close.”
Stefen cocked his head, maybe offended, maybe puzzled, and went back to work. He was so earnest about it, despite the claim that he’d never touched a dick besides his own. That endeared him to Holden. Stefen wasn’t worth a damn as a bouncer—too nice, too understanding, too reluctant to turn anyone away—but he was certainly eager to please. Even if he wasn’t very good at this either.
Holden petted the bouncer’s long red hair and marveled at his ability to be bored by a blowjob. If the recent trauma began to affect his sex life as well as his stress level, it would be time to buckle down and commit himself to seeing a counselor. Not a Community counselor. Those were all located at the Community’s headquarters downtown and required members to sign a contract that all their sessions be recorded. The underground psychic community did not believe in HIPAA. They were more invested in ensuring no one was distraught enough to expose the existence of the organization, and psychics in general, to the public.
If there was one thing all members of the Community agreed on, it was that being outed would be disastrous. If outsiders knew about them, they would be harmed. Holden had grown up on that us-against-them verbiage, but there was little evidence that it wasn’t true. It was very easy to see how the rest of the world would view them as either tools or threats, and react accordingly.
It took several more minutes for Stefen to find a rhythm. Just as Holden’s breathing picked up and he felt the tug of his arousal coiling for release, the office door swung inward. Stefen threw himself backward, his teeth skimming Holden’s dick. Holden hissed and covered himself, holding onto his expletives only because his father was now looming in front of him.
Richard Payne took one look at them and turned away. “Get him out of here.”
“Jesus.” Holden tucked himself into his pants and jerked his head at Stefen. “Go.”
“Yeah. I’m going.” Stefen staggered to his feet. He wiped his mouth but only managed to look even sloppier and more freshly used. “Sorry, boss.”
Holden rubbed his forehead and closed his eyes. “Just . . . leave.”
Stefen scuffled out without saying anything to Richard. Either he didn’t recognize one of the Community’s founders, or he was too embarrassed to care. However, judging from his parting question of whether they wanted the door open or closed, it was entirely possible he was simply an imbecile. Holden fought a smile and opened his eyes.
“That was unfortunate timing.”
“Is that what you’re calling it?” Richard skimmed his eyes over him, judgment and disdain etched into the ice of his features. They looked very alike, from the tawny hair to the hazel eyes and lean build, but that was where the similarities ended. While Richard never cracked a smile, Holden tried his best to find dark humor in the serious. His father tended to overanalyze and look for weaknesses and problems even in the best of situations, whereas Holden often took things at face value because he’d rather believe things were going well. And last, but definitely not forgotten, was the fact that although they were both empaths, Holden’s gift was notably stronger. Nothing like being one-upped by your own son to trigger resentment instead of pride.
Psychics were fucked up.
“What would you like me to call it?” he wondered. “Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit Mother’s talent for precognition, so I had no idea you would be barging into my office.”
“And yet you have a wall of cameras right in front of you,” Richard said dryly.
Holden glanced at the cameras in question. The main level of Evolution was empty of all but staff, and the VIP level was cast in the gloom of darker lights. In the past, he’d enjoyed seeing it void of patrons. He’d liked to see the place he’d created in all of its glory before it was desecrated by drunken psys who would inevitably end up puking or fucking at various locations throughout the space. But, now, he wasn’t as entranced by the stillness. It gave a spectral vibe that reminded him of another night not too long ago when the empty club had nearly been the setting for yet another murder. His own.
Swallowing the knot in his throat, he crossed his arms over his charcoal suit jacket. “To what do I owe this pleasure, Father?”
Richard flicked hair out of his face as he spoke in his usual unaffected tone. “I found a replacement for Chase.”
The knot formed again, bigger this time, and Holden had trouble speaking around it. He also had a hard time ignoring the icicles forming along his spine and the dread in his gut. Holden hadn’t seen his half brother since the night of Jericho’s murder, except for his appearances in one of Holden’s eerily vivid dreams—images of Chase strapped down on a metal slab, or strung up in a device constructed of tight straps, as a man with a thin black band tattooed around his bright-green eyes leaned over him.
“Chase isn’t replaceable.”
Richard mirrored Holden’s pose and said nothing.
“Unless you’ve located another multitalented psy who was psychically and physically intimidating enough to safeguard the club? I’m a little skeptical about that possibility since Chase was practically superhuman.”
Richard’s jaw clenched, and something passed over his face that Holden had never seen before. Hurt? Frustration? Whatever it had been, it was gone in an instant. “Apparently not, since he allowed himself to be controlled and nearly killed by a void.”
Holden narrowed his eyes. “Beck wasn’t a void. She absorbed powers and took them as her own. She was as close to a psychic vampire as a real person can get, even though you and the other leaders have always said that was a myth.”
“Regardless, your brother didn’t sense her hidden ability despite being nearly superhuman.”
“Neither did you,” Holden said sharply. “And you put her here.”
The silence that fell between them was sharp enough to slice holes in Holden’s self-control. There was so much he wanted to say to his father about that situation. Pointing out that no one in the Community had identified Beck for what she was until Theo and Nate Black had come along was only one of them.
If it weren’t for the Black twins, it was entirely possible Beck would have continued using Evolution as her honeypot to cannibalize powerful psychics. But Holden couldn’t say those things because he’d sworn his silence to Nate, and he couldn’t let his father know that, at the back of his mind, he put a big chunk of the blame on him. For not vetting better, for not trying harder to get past someone’s mental shields before putting them in a position of authority, and for blaming Chase.
But making those accusations, and asking those questions, would cast him in the kind of light Theo had been in before his death. A shit stirrer, a blasphemer, someone who didn’t trust the Community and who was likely a troublemaker. But the big difference was Theo hadn’t been a member, and Holden had been born into all this.
So he smiled and nodded.
“Tell me about the new guy.” Holden couldn’t resist a dig. “Was your vetting process more thorough than it was with Beck, or did you leave out mistresses this time?”
Richard had no tells, so it was impossible to know whether he was close to leaving in disgust or backhanding Holden before going on a rant about what could happen if people found him disloyal, before sending him off to be realigned at the Farm. Either was possible, and both had happened before.
“His name is Six.”
Oversight, book two, The Community series, by Santino Hassell, was full of a tense and on the edge of your seat plot that continued to thicken until the very end.
Picking up where Insight, book one, left off, Holden Payne is still recovering from the murders of two of his band members and trying to figure out what went wrong only to discover that his father is assigning another handler to watch over him, again.
Sixtus Rossi, an invulnerable, meaning he has a natural mental shield that prevents him from being susceptible to psychic abilities, has lived on the farm inside the Community for over a decade. DAMN!
Because he's impenetrable, he also has problems with sarcasm, jokes, and social skills making him blunt, not very talkative and honest to a fault. Another reason Holden's father picked him was that he can't be seduced or easily swayed and charmed by Holden's psychic abilities. Something Holden thrives on doing to his conquests.
Holden hates the gorgeous cyborg lumbersexual—who wears his hair in a man bun—on sight. They have a hate-hate relationship but soon turns into intrigue between them as Holden really wants to understand Six and he doesn't understand why but he is sure he feels a connection to him.
Oversight really takes the reader inside the Community world and 'behind the scenes' that we didn't get to see in the first book and wow is it ever scary and intense. Holden's world is turned upside down because everything that he thought he knew turns out to be lies and deceit and he realizes he is as disposable as any of them.
As the story unfolds, they go deeper and deeper—unraveling twists and turns—that have been set in motion, Six and Holden continue to form a strong bond that... until now, neither have ever felt from anyone before. Holden may lose everything he's ever known but he refuses to lose the one thing that means anything to him now and that's Six.
Nate and Trent come back to help on a dangerous extraction that doesn't go according to plan leaving Chase and Elijah still on the farm under the evilness of The Community. Chase is strong but he's already been drugged and brainwashed leaving him weak and foggy. Now they have Elijah too to use against Chase hoping to find more answers about what the exComm members are doing. Did I mention this was intense?
I can't wait for the next book to see what happens with these two and how they get out of the mess they are in. Oversight was action packed with high intensity and sizzling sexual chemistry to the very end. Highly recommended.
Meet the author
Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twentysomething, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.
Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of LGBT fiction that is 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.
Connect with Santino:
- Website: www.santinohassell.com