REVIEW: “FIRST AND FIRST” by Santino Hassell

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TITLE: First and First
AUTHOR: Santino Hassell
COVER DESIGN: Ashley Kaye Hayes
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Contemporary
E-BOOK: Yes
SERIES: Five Boroughs
PRICE: $ 6,99 e-book on Dreamspinner store
LENGHT: 244 pages
RELEASE DATE: April 18th, 2016

BLURB: Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reign 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.

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With this story, the Five Boroughs series cemented its position among my all-time favorite books. Santino Hassel is a master story-teller. He creates characters like no other. All his guys are exceptional, unique and it’s always a wonderful adventure to get into their heads for the duration of their story. Although this book can be read and enjoyed as a standalone, I think it’s best to read the books in order to get a better understanding of the dynamics going on between/among the characters.
First and First tells the story of two guys we have previously met in Suthpin Boulevard and Sunset Park. Caleb and Oli are both introduced to the reader in the previous stories. However, we got to see them through David’s eyes, so our perception of them is quite misleading. It’s a true eye-opening experience to get to know people from a totally new perspective and discover what they are really like, and understand their behavior better.
We all crave someone who sees us… Sees us the way we are… Caleb is stuck behind some heavy barriers. He decides to deny his desires at an early age and lives his life suppressing his real fantasies, never giving room for his most basic instincts. One unexpected, drunken night changes everything. He lets himself be seen. Let his instincts dictate. Spending a wild, uninhibited night with Oli allows him to live some of his deepest desires. From that moment neither of them can continue living their lives the way they had before. Oli’s brutally honesty is like fresh air. It also forces Caleb to understand and accept himself. Caleb also discovers that some fantasies only exist to boost one’s desires but are best left unfulfilled. These two guys have to work hard, fight hard for/with themselves and each other. The friendship/relationship they are creating is the most complicated and controversial in the series so far. The writing is powerful, all the emotions are depicted beautifully, and Caleb and Oli’s struggles are real and very raw. I truly loved every page of this book. Highly recommended!
5 BIG FAT STARS

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**** The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press in Exchange of an honest review.****

 

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