Monday, July 27, 2015

ARC Review: Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs #1) by Santino Hassell

Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1)Blurb:
Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens to teaching in one of the city’s most queer friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.

Todd's rating:

"Dissenting Opinion, party of one. Dissenting Opinion, your table is ready."

Yeah, sorry, I just raised my hand and took that table. :(

I was really excited to read this one, my first by Santino Hassell, and it started out really great.

I absolutely loved the idea of Michael and Nunzio being absolute best friends for 20 years, then expanding their old friendship into something more.

And the 3-way scene, where Michael and Nunzio take David home, Lord, that was some insanely hot shit, let me tell you.

And I enjoyed the progression of the story, quite a bit -- until Michael loses his fucking mind. For me, the reasoning behind that felt a bit contrived.

** WARNING: The rest of this review is rife with spoilers, so you've been warned.


If Michael had been that messed up after his loving mother had passed from cancer, yes, I may have had a bit more insight and understanding as to why he went off the deep end.

But for a father who was nearly-completely absent at best, abusive at worst and rarely ever had a kind word for anyone, much less his two young sons? Not so much, guilt over things said or no.

You reap what you sow, and the asshole father, Joseph, had planted no seeds of love. Ever.

And the alcohol and drug addiction? Michael admits that for numerous years, he and Nunzio have gone out and gotten completely obliterated, very frequently, but alcohol had always been something he could move on from the very next day with no issue.

Yes, your life sucks at the moment. But it's sucked before and guess what? You put on big boy panties and dealt. So yeah, it felt a bit manufactured to me as well.

Plus, the bit about Nunzio switching jobs, away from Michael's school at the end? Uhhh, why? That was never really explained. Again, contrived. To me at least.

And another thing that I didn't care for was how all through the book, David cheating on his boyfriend, repeatedly, was just blown off as sort of, "Oh well, boys will be boys."

Ummm, no. If he's too boring and you aren't happy, then man the hell up and GTFO. Sorry, very hot button issue for me.

Yes, there was a LOT of the book that I did enjoy, the sex scenes were page-scorching, Nunzio was off the charts great, I really liked pre-crazy Michael and where the story had 'started' to head.

But... once the insanity started and I was stuck in Michael's whiny head, with very little actual dialogue, I mainly just wanted to start skimming (which I didn't) and get to the last page fast. : (

Yes, we get an HEA and I do actually look forward to reading more about Michael and (especially) Nunzio as the series progresses, but I'm really hoping that David's cheating ways fuck right the hell off, instead of subjecting Michael's brother, Raymond, to that same douchey bullshit on book 2.

Overall, I'm giving this one 3.25 stars, but still holding a teeny bit of a grudge for what I felt was somewhat manufactured drama here and there.

My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

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