Friday, November 25, 2016

First and First by Santino Hassell (audiobook)

Title:  First and First
Author: Santino Hassell 
My Rating: A
Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m) 
Series: Five Burroughs #3
Main Characters: Oli and Caleb
Release Date: September 2016 (audiobook)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press 
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
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.

My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 4.0
Story: 4.75

Knowing Caleb's backstory with David is key to this book. David and Caleb were involved, but David wasn't satisfied with Caleb, so he sought out other guys and excitement...that's how he ended up doing a threesome and  ultimately got involved with Raymond. That left Caleb on the outs, with huge doubts about his sexual prowess.

Enter Oli. Oli is everything that Caleb isn't. He loves to experiment and have fun in bed. The first night they get together, Caleb is so drunk that he embraces that and their night is seriously hot and heavy. Oli is hooked. He knows that wildcat lives inside Caleb and he makes it his mission to pull that experimental side to Caleb out as often as possible. 

But Caleb has grown up very repressed...and not just sexually. He's always had to act a certain way, look a certain way, present himself in a certain way to fit in with his family. He's bowed to those edicts. Even his homosexuality comes with restrictions. He can't act gay. But as he's around Oli more and more, he pulls at those binds that have held him controlled for so long. He wants more. He doesn't want to be alone any longer. He doesn't want to be the guy left behind because he's not enough. 

I also liked how the relationship developed between Caleb and his brother, Adrian, in this book. Regardless of anything else, that shows just what a good guy he is. He starts this new company mainly to help his half-brother to get out from under his father's thumb. Gah, I loved that about Caleb. 

I also really liked Adrian and Jace. They brought some unusual humor to the story. Jace propositioning Caleb was killing me. So much fun, especially since Caleb has such a horrible self-image. I loved that there were several men throughout the story who were into him, showing him that Oli was not a rarity...that he did have something to offer someone else, regardless of what David told him.

Overall, this has been my favorite book in the series so far. It didn't have the gritty feel that the other two books did, but I still loved it. I can't wait to read more. Book #4 is the I read it or wait a few months for the audio? I do really like listening to these on audio.

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