Title: Sunset Park
Author: Santino Hassell
Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release: 24th May 2016
Length: 8 hrs and 7 mins
Raymond Rodriguez's days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.
David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.
Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.
Having loved Sutphin Boulevard so much I was really worried that Sunset Park would suffer in comparison, despite my soft spot for Raymond. I am glad to declare that I was completely wrong.
I found David annoying in the previous book but my opinion of him was altered drastically from the get go. There's a lot more information about his background and his relationship with his ex and many chapters are written from his point of view so his behaviour makes much more sense to me now. Raymond, with all his edges, is an amazingly adorable character and if you became a fan of his thanks to his smart mouth and attitude in the first book you are going to love him so much more here, juggling his feelings, temper and a boatload of firsts.
Ray and David have amazing chemistry and had me hooked from the beginning. There's a lot of back and forth between them, and quite a deal of misapprehensions and legitimate fears that get in the way but it didn't take away from the story; it prevented it from becoming another unrealistic insta-whatever. And personally? It means a lot when bi representation is done right and Raymond, endeared himself to me that much more for having to deal with everybody's issues with his sexuality. Redeemed as David may be in this one, Raymond is the heart of the story and my new favourite.
There's great banter, just the right amount of hot sex and lots of feelz so I don't think there's a chance you won't like this one. We also get to enjoy glimpses of Michael and Nunzio, you know, the icing on the cake. I may have liked it more than the first one, and that should say something to those who've read (and re-read) Sutphin Boulevard.
Michael Ferraiulo was a perfect choice as a narrator. He did such an amazing job that I completely lost myself in the book. I honestly couldn't find not even the slightest thing to complain about. Every single character had an immediately recognizable voice and the variation in tone and inflection between each POV and even the effort put in conveying the emotion behind the words.
Connect with Santino Hassell
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 LGBTQ 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.
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