Author ~ Santino Hassell
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 24th October 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Can they overcome their differences to make it to happily ever after?
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.
If you’re a fan of any book in the Five Boroughs series you’ll want to pick this one up too. If you haven’t read this series yet, you really need to get started on it, but I wouldn’t read this story without having read at least Sunset Park, as it’s really a continuation of David and Raymond’s story. They’ve been together almost two years and some things have changed while others have remained the same. Raymond is working two jobs and going to school and as a result, he and David have very little time together. David is also facing stress at work and feeling more insecure the longer Raymond hides their relationship from everyone but their closest friends. David also feels Raymond dismisses his concerns over things, especially when it comes to Raymond’s packed schedule and Raymond’s co-worker Trent. Raymond likes to handle things on his own which also feeds into David feeling pushed aside.
This story is about the real day-to-day difficulties of an established couple; communication, making time for each other and each respecting the other’s concerns and differences. There is never a question that Raymond and David love each other; the alternating POV makes that crystal clear. It’s a surprise everything around these two doesn’t spontaneously combust anytime they’re near each other. The love and the passion haven’t waned. The question is whether loving each other and having scorching hot sex is enough to sustain the relationship when real life makes things difficult. The two are polar opposites in many respects, from their temperament to their backgrounds, but they knew that going into things and now they just need to learn how to manage it. David is still needy and clingy and Raymond is still laid back but with hot temper. David has spent his life as the “gay boy” while it’s all new to Raymond.
These two really have it tough in this story. There is angst and drama and just when things seem to have been settled, something else pops up. Raymond promises David that things will slow down soon and they will have more time together and David does his best not to let his worrying get the best of him. They both want to enjoy the limited time they have with each other, but when else can they hash out their problems? They’re not just fighting for the sake of irritating the other, they’re fighting for their relationship because they can’t imagine being without the other.
I have yet to find something to complain about when it comes to Santino Hassell’s writing. He writes real people and raw emotion. There is a lot of arguing and head-butting between the two men, but as frustrating as it was, it didn’t feel like it was thrown in for the sake of creating drama. It was all true to the nature of characters we first met in the prior books. I know a lot of readers had trouble with David in Sunset Park and if you were one of them, he’ll probably get on your nerves here too, but Raymond isn’t innocent in the whole thing either.
Of course, you can’t have Raymond without Michael and Nunzio, and it was great catching up with them. Their relationship is stronger than ever and I think their fans will absolutely love to see what they are up to. Caleb and Oli also make a brief appearance as all the Five Boroughs crew embark on a cruise to celebrate their successful app venture.
With two more books expected in 2017 (we still need to visit the Bronx and Staten Island) I have my fingers crossed for stories featuring Caleb’s brother Aiden and his husband Jace, or maybe Charles or Clive, but whoever Santino chooses to give us next I’ll be ready and waiting.
The Five Boroughs Series
Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.
Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction 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.