October 24, 2016

RELEASE DAY REVIEW: Interborough (Five Boroughs #4)

Interborough (Five Boroughs #4), by Santino Hassell
Publish Date:
October 24, 2016
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Format: ARC, provided by the author
Genre: adult m/m contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(Synopsis) The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.

David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.

The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.

Thus far, each of Santino Hassell's Five Boroughs books have introduced a new couple - Michael and Nunzio, David and Raymond, Oliver and Caleb. In a departure from this pattern, Santino uses the fourth book in this series to revisit David and Raymond more than a year after they got together. If you're not familiar with the series, you might think this weird, but if you actually read Sunset Park, you'd know that their story never felt quite as finished as the others did. And, it wasn't. There were still some things these two had to work out. And that time has come. 

So many times in romance books, we read about these larger than life problems that couples have to endure - a billionaire with experience gets together with a regular person, an abusive stalker ex is out for revenge, a boss/employee forbidden situation. In Interborough, the problems that plague David and Raymond, however, are much more serious than any of those. 

Lack of time and insecurity.

These problems plaguing David and Raymond seemed so much more jarring to me because they're REAL. In most people's lives, we don't have to worry about stalkers or forbidden romances. But, busyness is something we all can relate to. In Interborough, Raymond's motivations are pure - he's going to school to get a degree, plus working two jobs in order to pay bills. But, the long hours are preventing him from spending quality time with David. This then causes David to feel less important to Ray. David's insecurities mount when faced with Ray's hot co-worker and the fact that Ray doesn't want to tell anyone he works with that he's bi. 

On top of all that, David's dealing with stuff at his own job and Ray has problems with his parents' old house that he and Michael are renting out. It's a perfect storm of land mines ripe for relationship destruction. And as each of those explosions detonated, I felt them. 

In the past, when stressed, I'd think of Raymond. His smile. How warm his body was when he spooned against me at night. Our lips together. The first time he told me he loved me. Now, some of those things were gone or happened infrequently, and all I had were memories. Memories were dangerous. They tricked you into thinking happy times were an achievable goal instead of long-gone ghosts of the past. 

Santino Hassell is an incredible writer. His words are evocative and raw and they take you right to the heart of the matter. I knew from reading Sunset Park that David and Ray love each other. That seems even more true now with more than a year of living together under their belts. It made their troubles that much harder to read about. You want nothing more than for these two guys to have their happy. They DESERVE their happy. So, when it eludes them again and again, I found myself shedding tears right along with them. 

"As much as I love being in love, I know that the existence of it isn't a magic ticket to a happy ending. And I know that as much as two people love each other, relationships don't always work, and then people split up and find other people to give it a go again. It's a horrible cycle, and I'm afraid that we're becoming part of it."

Interborough includes dual POVs, but my favorite place to be is inside Raymond's head. David wears his heart on his sleeve. It's never hard to tell how he's feeling or what he's thinking. Raymond is shrouded in a lot more mystery. He broods and internalizes things and bears his problems silently. He's not demonstrative and doesn't delight in extreme PDA like David does. So, the benefit of being privy to Raymond's thoughts about David and the pressure he was constantly under to do everything himself was my favorite part of the book. And, it confirmed what I already knew - Raymond is an amazing, wonderful man who loves David fiercely. 

I wanted to touch him. Pull him close and hold him tight the way he'd done for me back when I'd needed it so bad. Before I'd even known what the hell I'd needed. 

Despite the tears and gnashing of teeth, I made it through to the other side relatively unscathed. Honestly, the epilogue took a lot of the sting out of the earlier pain in the book. It's fantastic, and will leave you with such an incredible sense of satisfaction and contentment. I didn't want it to end. Instead, I went back and re-read my favorite parts. Certainly the sexy times - because why wouldn't you want to relive those?? They might be many months into their relationship, but the sizzle hasn't stopped even a little. 

If you haven't experienced Santino Hassell for yourself yet, I implore you - PLEASE. Check out one of his books. I promise you won't regret it. 

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