Monday, March 13, 2017

Virtual Tour ~ Insight by Santino Hassell ~ (Guest Post + Giveaway)

Virtual Tour ~ Insight by Santino Hassell ~ (Guest Post, Review + Giveaway)

Writing the Underdog in INSIGHT

I’ve always rooted for the underdog. Whether it’s in a UFC fight, in a book, or a character in a movie—I want the person who doesn’t seem to stand a chance to win. Whether they don’t have the status, the money or power, it’s always satisfying to watch someone beat the odds.

With INSIGHT, both main characters are underdogs in different ways. Nate Black grew up poor in a small town where his family were seen as freaks, and where he was ostracized for being openly gay. The only power he’s ever had is the psychic ability of empathy, but the inability to block out negative emotions has led to him having low self-esteem.

This doesn’t automatically change once Nate sticks out his thumb to hitch a ride to NYC and is picked up by smoking hot smart aleck Trenton Castille. In Nate’s eyes Trent is everything he’s not-- confident, smart (he’s going to Caltech for aeronautical engineering), and strong. He has his shit together, and that leads to him being Nate’s rock. The person he depends on to get him through the rollercoaster ride of their road trip from Texas to New York City. However, once they get to New York and find themselves embroiled in a murder mystery, Trent realizes there is an entire psychic world out there, and he’s a void--someone without psychic powers.

Surrounded by sophisticated New Yorkers who have honed their gifts, both Trent and Nate feel out of their depth, but they refuse to give up. They don’t know who the Big Bad is, but they’re determined to find out the truth and bring about justice no matter how dangerous it is. Along the way, they meet other underdogs—society’s cast offs and self-proclaimed misfits who don’t fit anywhere else but with each other.

In our current time, when so many things feel out of control and when we all feel smaller than usual, there was something empowering about creating a world where the underdogs can win. And where they get their HEAs (Romantically, anyway. The next two books in the series follow two different couples as they all band together to continue a quest that only gets started in INSIGHT).
If you’re interested in reading about queer psychics who refuse to be pushed around and beaten down no matter how powerful their nemesis, pick up INSIGHT now.

About Insight

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.

3.5 Stars 

A read that needs quite a bit of concentration. Unsettling mix of too-slow start and galloping pace the rest of the way through. 
OK, so I read the blurb very briefly before requesting this book for review, and my advice would be to revisit the blurb before diving in. As usual, SH's writing is hip and trendy with a few things that this Brit reader ended up looking up to understand things, but hey, I'm used to that from him.

I wasn't quite with the tale for perhaps the first 20 pages, as the lead character, Nate, and his life were lacklustre and listless and I didn't feel as if the tale was going to pick up any time soon, but when the aftermath of the tragic event in the tale came about, secrets and hints of stuff being far, far worse than Nate had suspected of his family, and the pace picked up quite a bit. I was confused over the huge hatred various members of his family had for each other, and the secrets and almost-bullying. Not all got revealed in this, but I got hints of the unpleasant and the rather unsettling - I think more will be revealed in the next tale, as stuff from Nate's ancestry may be more widespread than anyone knew.

The romance in this tale, if I am honest, didn't feel integral to the tale or that believable, but what did, was the 'visual' of the psychic cult that SH created - nasty, sinister, what you'd expect of a cult and its reach. At the same time, I couldn't quite get a hold on the many, many characters who suddenly made an appearance, but the tale veered very, very much into the paranormal, with 'vampire psychics' who can draw energy from others (I think Nate may have experienced that, but I couldn't quite make it out) and many, many more with different talents. There was also talked of those that had managed to escape the community, and there was a real sinister feel to the tale.

It ends with the leads having left New York, living somewhere very different and with a life that makes them happy, Nate working as a psychic and realising that his gift can be used to make a living, though he won't milk it for anything but the truth. But then, the tale ends on him getting a phone call...

Whilst the book was pretty well done, I'm not sure I'd read more of this world, as it was confusing, it was dark and it was unpleasant and tbh, I ended up a little confused for a fair bit of it. And, I wasn't convinced about the romance between an out gay guy and what felt like an experimenting bisexual - both lacked the vibrancy of SH's leads from his Five Boroughs series.
ARC courtesy of Riptide and NetGalley, for my reading pleasure.

About Santino Hassell

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:


To celebrate the release of Insight, one lucky winner will receive $20 in Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 18, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!


  1. Congrats on the release! Thank you for the post, it's interesting and unique that you decided to write a story about two underdogs. Thank you for the review.
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  2. I read this yesterday, and for the most part agree with your review, except that I enjoyed the chemistry between the two main characters, and I was mostly able to keep track of everyone. (; I've read quite a lot of paranormal, though. I felt like we were just seeing the tip of the iceberg, and I'm looking forward to reading more of the series.

  3. love santino and cant wait to read this one
    jmarinich33 at aol dot com

  4. This looks like it is such an awesome book...Psychics?! Yes, please! Santino already writes some great books, I have no doubt this will another one. pringlez22(at)yahoo(dot)com

  5. This book sounds amazing. Empathy to the highest level. I love the idea.
    tankie44 at gmail dot com

  6. I'm excited to read this one.
    Brettonc at gmail dot com

  7. Congrats and thanks for the post. The book sounds great, and I root for the underdog too. The only problem, more often than not, the underdog loses, but when he wins, yay! - Purple Reader
    - TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

  8. Thank you for the review. This is next on my purchase list.

  9. Thanks for the post. I love it when underdogs beat the odds & win!

  10. I love Santino's books so I am looking forward to reading this book.
    ree.dee.2014 (at) gmail (dot) com

  11. sounds intriguing
    congrats on the new release


  12. This book sounds very Intriguing. Another one for my to buy list.

  13. Congratulations on the new release! I can't wait to get my hands on it <3

  14. I appreciate the honest review!


  15. Thanks for the post and review. Looking forward to a book that actually requires brainpower to read.

  16. I just started Insight last night and of course got hooked in the story. Can't wait to see how the story unfolds.