August 26, 2016

REVIEW: Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs #1)

Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs #1), by Santino Hassell
Publish Date:
July 31, 2005
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Format: e-book, purchased
Genre: adult contemporary m/m romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(Synopsis) 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.

Are you kidding me with this awesome book? I didn't know what to expect when I purchased Sutphin Boulevard. All I knew was that Santino Hassell has paired with one of my favorite authors, Megan Erickson, on the Cyberlove series. Which I love. So, I wanted to know more about Santino as a solitary writer. And, I am telling you, this book blew me away. 

Sutphin Boulevard is an incredibly powerful friends to lovers story. But, it's also a lot more than that. It's about friendship and family and grief and how we all deal with the bad things that happen in our lives. Some deal with it well - others, not so well. But, what spoke to me was the importance of unconditional love. And that, even when we don't want it or feel like we deserve it, just the knowledge that there is someone or several someones out there who will love us anyway can make all the difference in the world. 

Michael and Nunzio have been BFFs forever, but one drunken night at a club changes the way Michael looks at Nunzio. Michael is having a hard time dealing with his shifting feelings for his friend, and an even harder time dealing with his alcoholic father and deadbeat, but lovable, brother at home. All those things, together with changes at his job, have Michael constantly on edge and stressed out. No one seems to be able to reach him, and a chain reaction of bad choices finally forces Michael to take stock of his life and figure out how to deal with his problems - and whether he wants to do it by himself or with Nunzio by his side as more than a friend. 

I am about as far removed from this world as you can get. I'm a woman. I'm white. I'm heterosexual. I live in the 'burbs with a cornfield in my backyard. And yet, Santino Hassell's brilliant writing forced me to be a part of the story. His writing is beautiful and evocative and it makes his characters, surroundings and situations become so real. In Michael's case, that meant a lot of tears and throat lumps on my part.

Make no mistake - this is a crazy sexy book. Michael and Nunzio have off-the-charts chemistry, and when they put that to good use... oh my. So, while I promise you will swoon and you will blush, you will also FEEL. Your feels will have feels. Michael's journey to his happy place with Nunzio is hard. It's frustrating and sad and scary. The emotional response that Michael's life ripped from me was unparalleled. 

I ended up binge reading this entire series. After I was introduced to the characters that I knew would take starring roles in the future books in the series, I had to know their stories too. And, Santino Hassell didn't disappoint. Not even a little. 

1 comment:

Gina said...

I've not read a m/m romance but I'll definitely admit it sounds like the author did an amazing job of making it an inclusive story... something any fan of the genre can enjoy. Thanks for the share!