★★ Release Day Blitz ★★ First and First ( A Five Boroughs Story) by Santino Hassell
AUTHOR: SANTINO HASSELL
TITLE: First and First
SERIES: A Five Boroughs Story
RELEASE DATE: April, 18, 2016
PAGES: 244 Pages
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reigns, and “alternative lifestyles” are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he’s still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn’t know how… until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.
Oli is everything Caleb isn’t—risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year’s Eve, Caleb is smitten.
As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.
A soft sound slid from Oli’s mouth. “You’re dangerous.”
“Yeah,” he said, “you are. This kind of thing only leads to complications, and complications lead to people wanting things, losing them, and then winding up with broken hearts. Just look at you.”
I brushed thick, black hair off his brow. “The condition isn’t as permanent as it seemed.”
"Why don’t you run along and find someone more exciting and sexually free to play with? As you said, I’m prone to complications.”
“No,” Oli said simply. “I think I’ll keep trying to play with you.”
“Me cooking for you is just me keeping you nice and energized. I’m going to spend this weekend taking you apart.”
“Thank you for being thoughtful, but you can do whatever you want to me without much finessing. I’m a cheap and easy whore for you.”
I lay back in the mess of the bed, wanting to soak in the bath but unwilling to get up while Oli was pressed to my side and gazing down at me like it was the most natural thing in the world. When he smoothed my hair back from my forehead for the second time, I met his eyes.
“Oliver, what are we doing?”
He searched my face for a moment before smiling. “We’re just having fun.”
“Okay.” I quirked a smile and sat up with a groan. My body was aching in places that required an extended soak in hot water. “I want to clean up, but I don’t think I can move.”
“I’ll give you a sponge bath and you can chill in bed.”
I arched a brow, but Oli looked serious.
“Is that cool?” he asked. “I’ll throw in a massage for going so hard on you.”
I was starting to think Oli’s definition of “just fun” was a lot different from mine. Maybe my ideas of intimacy, beyond animalistic fucking, were his versions of casual trysts. But I didn’t let my confusion show. I didn’t do anything that would send him skittering off. I just nodded, smiled, and enjoyed the attention while I had it.
Tell me you love me.
The words were in my head, but for a fraction of a moment, I thought I’d said them aloud. I felt instantly pathetic. Even worse, because I really wanted it. I foolishly desperately wanted it. For someone to love me. For him to love me. But I knew he didn’t, and I knew no one else did, and God but that was an awful feeling to have.
Oli tilted his head up to mouth kisses along my jaw and against my cheek, and all of a sudden, I felt so unbearably in love with him that I wanted to say it. But I didn’t. I beat back my adoration and let him touch me. Which he did.
His lips explored my face before he tilted my head back to press a deeper kiss to my mouth. A strangely tender kiss that had no place on a rooftop, and had no place in a situation that could only lead to the battered ruins of my heart.
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.
Santino writes queer romance 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.
by Santino Hassell:
STRONG SIGNAL (with Megan Erickson)
This is a hot one, baby!! If I didn’t know the meaning of panty-melting before, I know it now. Aside from the blistering sex, First and First, by Santino Hassel, is a very compelling read that sheds light on a struggle that a lot of us face - Having desires, but afraid to reach out and grab them for fear of what others may say or think.
There is a great story here of being true to yourself, owning your wants and desires and not only reaching for what you want but actually going for it. Sometimes we need a push from others to help us see what others see and to help make our wants a reality. Most, if not all, of us have some internal damage we struggle with, fears that hold us back, and this story shows us it’s never too late to go for what you want.
Meeting Caleb for the first time, the reader immediately knows he’s having a hard time. He’s getting close to age 40, has no job, no love life, and very little experience in the bedroom. He’s single but he yearns for that one person who can give him everything he wants and craves. One of his main issues, and he has a few, is he doesn’t know how to ask for what he wants without feeling embarrassed or looked down upon.
He comes across as being very uncomfortable with his sexuality, but you realize it’s not because he’s gay, it’s because he doesn’t have much experience with sex. His age seems to be a constant factor and timetable for him proving himself successful and someone worth loving.
He was in a relationship with David, who we met in Book Two, but shutting him out emotionally, led to shutting him out physically and finally, shutting him out permanently and that took a toll on his already low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness.
Caleb comes from a very wealthy, uptight, and overbearing family and he finds himself falling back on his upbringing, frequently, giving the appearance of being snobby and prudish. It’s a constant battle with himself wanting his Father’s love, approval, and acceptance, things he knows he will never get. He hates his father yet he doesn’t, but it’s time to go after what he wants and quit worrying about everyone else.
With that said, he’s quite surprised and in quite a panic, when he wakes up after a drunken New Year’s Eve party and finds a very beautiful and naked man with pale skin and silky black hair in his bed. Oh wait… it’s not his bed.
Oliver Buckley lives his life on his terms, doesn’t believe in monogamy, presents a self-assured front, and loves sex and has it quite frequently. Watching Caleb have a complete melt-down and frantically searching for clothes, the morning after, leaves him a bit puzzled. He may have just had the best sex in his life so it hurts a bit when Caleb doesn’t remember any of it, or so he says.
As Caleb rushes around gathering up his belongings, trying to make a fast getaway, his memory begins piecing together the night’s events with Oli.
His hips slammed against me harder, his dick driving into my ass steadier and deeper, until the head was nudging against my sweet spot.
“More,” I panted into the pillow. “I want your come.” ~Caleb
Caleb is humiliated, ashamed of his behavior, but more than anything, I think he is embarrassed, but he was the closest he has ever been to being himself. Having the alcohol in his system gave him courage he normally would not have and he got his freak on with Oli and it was spontaneous, combustible, and pretty damn HOT. It was everything he fantasized and craved but would never voice aloud. It was rough, raw, and intense and they both have marks that leaves, no doubt, that it actually happened, and Caleb secretly wants to do it again…and again.
Oli has his own secrets that come with an abundance of “I have no fucks to give” but he comes from the same upper elite background as Caleb and it’s comforting and refreshing for Caleb that Oli gets him, even if just a little bit. But, there are too many complications that clog Caleb’s mind. He has so many hang-ups and carries so much baggage that he’s certain Oli will see the truth and run like all the others.
Oli is carefree, self-assured, at least he gives that impression, and a very sexual man who has had many partners. He makes no apologies either for the way he lives his life. He’s everything Caleb is not. Everything Caleb wishes for himself but doesn’t have the confidence to obtain. Oli plans on changing that with Caleb and is on a mission to get Caleb out more, let his hair down, and loosen up. The problem, however, is the more they are together, the more Caleb wants a life with Oli, but he remembers, also, that Oli is in it just for the fun and adventure especially since he is so against the “R” word, relationships.
Oli is destructive when in a relationship. He bolts when things start to get serious, and he knows this about himself and owns it, but it is what it is. His past has some bearing on his present behavior and his future will be much the same, unless Caleb can convince him they belong together.
Santino Hassell writes with an intriguing descriptive narrative that pulls the reader into the story and his characters are real, with real life issues, with real flaws and insecurities. Caleb and Oli, both, grow exponentially throughout the story. They have to work for their HEA because it’s not handed to them on a silver platter, even though most of their life, especially Caleb’s has been just that. Matters of the heart, however, are not material things that can be bought, again forcing Caleb out of his comfort zone.
Oli has been on his own for a long time and it was a rude awakening for someone who had never been taught life expectations, but with hard work and a fierce determination he proves it can be done and he refuses to rely on others. He pushes for Caleb to do the same. To admit his desires, scream them loudly, be present and in control of his life and stop living in fear of others and what they may think.
“You’re so sexy,” Oli panted. “And you don’t even know it, and that just makes me want to destroy you. Take you apart and fuck you until you’re trembling and begging and saying my name.” ~Oli
Caleb wants these things, as well. He wants to be care-free and let go, but it’s hard. He loves the sex between them because Oli knows what he loves, what he needs, and let me just reiterate again that when Oli and Caleb are together, their chemistry is off the charts, smoldering and full-blown H O T!!!!
I have to mention the secondary characters and how amazing and fun they are, and they bring so much humor to the story. I love Charlie, Caleb’s best friend, who I hope has his own story to tell us. We meet Aiden, Caleb’s half-brother, who has always been a sore spot because his father seemed to favor Aiden the most. Then there’s Mere, Caleb’s sister, who is quite the snob herself, but she grows on you when she allows some of her own walls to crumble.
When Caleb runs into his brother, at the same club and kink hangouts Oli takes him to, he can’t believe Aiden has been having his cake and eating it too, right under his father’s nose. What bothers Caleb more than anything is Aiden has the life he wants with his partner, albeit secretly, whereas Caleb lives under his father’s heavy thumb even in secret.
I love that the author shows so much character development and growth among all of the characters not just Oli and Caleb. The reader is pulled in from, literally, the first page and we travel this journey with them as they grow and find what they’ve been looking for. The unveiling of Caleb and being a witness to his growth is so gratifying for a reader.
This is far too long so I’ll wrap it up by saying, AMAZING STORY WITH HOT AND EXPLOSIVE SEX It can be read as a standalone, although knowing the other characters from previous stories such as Raymond, Michael, David, and Nunzio help visualize and give depth to the story, but not absolutely necessary as you will still get full enjoyment with these guys and the author does a great job with the details that easily keeps the reader in the know. 5 stars from me.
**I want to thank the author for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review**
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