Thursday, November 10, 2016

Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell (audiobook)

Title:  Sutphin Boulevard
Author: Santino Hassell
My Rating: B+
Narrator: Rusty Topsfield

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m) 
Series: Five Boroughs #1
Main Characters: Michael and Nunzio
Release Date: December 2015 (audiobook)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press 
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens to teaching in one of the city’s most queer friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.
My Review:
Overall: 4.25
Performance: 4.0
Story: 4.25

When I listen to audiobooks, I plan to spread them out over a week or longer while I run errands and do busywork in the house. I started this book one Sunday...and didn't do a single other thing the rest of the day because I was mesmerized by the story. It grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let me go.

This is not an everybody is happy and we're all going to have fantastic lives kind of romance. No, this book is one of those that feels very real and gritty. I'll be honest, I usually don't like this much realism in my reading...I read for escape from the stress of real life. But something about the way that Santino Hassell wrote these characters makes this book so engrossing and unput-downable (yes, I know I just made that word up).

Michael and Nunzio have been best friends since they were kids. Although they're both gay, they've never gone "there" with one another. Their friendship is too precious to risk. But then in a single night of drinking, things change...drastically. Unfortunately this happens just when Michael's life is spinning out of control in every other way, too. He isn't ready to face all the changes and doesn't deal well. 

What is so good about this book is that the friendship between the two guys is all-important. Even when things are imploding and evolving with their romance...they can still relate as friends first. OMG, I loved that so, so much. 

There is a lot of 'unhappy' happening in this book, but it never got depressing (at least not to me). There are moments of hope throughout the story. Michael hits so many deep, dark lows, but I loved his character in that even though he was in the depths of a black place, but he still managed to help others. 

I loved listening to this book and definitely had a book hangover when I finished the audio. Thank goodness that there are more books to the series, so I don't have to let it all end...not yet.

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