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review 2017-05-25 00:28
And the Five Boroughs marathon continues...
Interborough - Santino Hassell

So back on Mother's Day my hubby in his inimitable wisdom decided that since I was now listening to audiobooks what better gift than to treat me to some new ones and I got to go shopping for them so I  could pick what I wanted and while I wanted more than a few this series was at the top of my list, especially since I had this one to review. Overall it was money and time well spent because not only did I love them but I am absolutely dying to go back to the beginning and re-listen to them all over again. I basically marathoned these books over the course of  a weekend as soon as I was done listening to one, I clicked the play button to start the next one, which explains why I'm now sitting here catching up on the reviews.


I could not get enough...I devoured them, so needless to say once again Michael Ferraiuoloa was the narrator for this installment of 'The Five Boroughs' and once again I was not disappointed...well other than...more Oli time would have been really nice but since this is a David and Raymond story and not Oli and Caleb, I'm maybe being a little picky on this one, but that's just me.


'Interborough' is the fourth book in this series and unlike the previous books it's not about a new couple. With 'Interborough' we find ourselves back in the lives of David and Raymond. It's about a year later and these men are having a hard time of it...oh, they're still very much in love, unfortunately sometimes life doesn't leave us much time for love and these two are floundering.


David wants to be a loving and supportive partner but that's hard to do when you're feeling ignored, neglected and shut out. 


Raymond wants to be the partner he thinks David deserves but with two jobs, school and unexpected demands on his finances and a new friend who really rubs David the wrong way. Raymond's feeling more than a little pressure and stress but he's determined that he can handle it on his own, if David would just give him time.


Both men are hanging on to the prospect of their forthcoming vacation cruise to try and regain some balance in their relationship. But between the sun, the fun and the mojitos  Ray's having a hard time getting David alone so they can reconnect but once he does their passion blazes hotter than the tropical sun. Problem is will it last past the end of their cruise. 


Raymond and David established themselves as  a couple in 'Sunset Park' and while their ending may have been more of an HFN than an HEA they seemed fairly solid. But a little more than a year later things aren't so certain for this pair and it's not because of any over the top angst or drama. Sadly just like in real life what's driving these men apart isn't the big things it's all the little things that life throws at them and sometimes when enough of those little things get tossed our way, the pile they make seems insurmountable. 


As in the previous books in this series we also get the fun of catching up with Michael and Nunzio, Caleb and Oli, as well as glimpses of other characters we've already met and new ones whose stories have yet to unfold.


What I really loved about this book was that more than any of the previous books I was really able to relate to what David and Raymond were going through. This was in some ways the most realistic story of them all because relationships...they're hard work and so often life hands us so much sh!t to deal with we lose sight of things...like what and who's really important. For me this wasn't a story about assigning blame it was about learning to truly be partners, to listen and share, to communicate and always appreciate that person who you've chosen to spend your life with. The good times are easy to get through but it's what you do when your faced with the day to day challenges that can often make or break a relationship. 


'Interborough' didn't really so much feel like it was messing with the HEA of an established couple as it was taking us further along on their journey to show us that having a happily ever after means working at it every day in order to keep it. I absolutely loved that just like in real life there are no promises and guarantees, just chances and opportunities and it's up to David and Raymond to make the most of them.


From start to finish I was on the edge of my seat cheering for these two to find a way to make things work again. Caleb and Oli may be my favorite couple in this series so far but that doesn't mean I don't have a place in my heart for all of them. 



An audiobook of 'Interborough' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-05-24 22:14
In case you missed it...
First and First - Santino Hassell

I totally have a thing for Oli's voice...I mean have a thing...Oli's voice just...well, it gives me butterflies in the tummy and goosebumps and seriously I could listen to that voice all day and still want more. It's not just that I like Oli's voice which you know...bonus when you're listening to an audiobook, but for me as soon as I heard him speak it worked, it clicked into place and my brain was in total agreement that this was how Oli would sound.


Michael Ferraiuolo is again the narrator for this installment of Santino Hassell's 'Five Boroughs' series and I have to say I'm truthfully hoping this doesn't change. I freely admit I'm not from New York and have never had the opportunity to spend time there so in terms of dialects/accents I'm by no means any kind of authority and can honestly say that my liking this narrator as much as I do has nothing to do with how much he does or doesn't sound like someone from New York. For me, he ticked those basic boxes in my 'what I want from an audiobook' checklist. He was consistent, his voices were unique I had no trouble discerning which character was speaking, emotions were conveyed when the characters were speaking. It just all worked for me and in the case of Oli...he nailed it.


I've been playing catch-up with this series via the audiobooks and I was really excited to get to this one. Oli was a character that grabbed my attention from the word go back when he made a play for Ray in 'Sunset Park'...did I want him getting it on with Ray, not really but I liked that he was there because I hoped that he would be a motivator for David to get his butt in gear with Ray and truthfully I liked that he was direct and said what he wanted didn't play games. Plus we got just enough of a peek at him to lock him into my brain as someone who would be interesting. Who he'd end up with at that point, I really had no idea, but I have to admit that it was Caleb...well that totally intrigued me, because Caleb in some ways seemed to be Oli's polar opposite.


Caleb is David's ex and by the time I finished 'Sunset Park', while I was definitely feeling better about David, even though I still wasn't happy that he'd cheated on Caleb when they were together, I was still finding it hard to see Caleb as any kind of a victim for me, he came off as a bit of a cold, manipulative douchebag. But, I also felt like Caleb and David together were a train wreck waiting to happen. You can love someone with all your heart but that doesn't mean they're the right person for you and by the end of 'Sunset Park' I very much felt like Caleb and David just never really belonged together, in  a nutshell they just weren't good for each other or too each other.  So 'First and First' was my chance to get more Oli and take a second look at Caleb, which turned out to be a very good thing.


I like Michael & Nunzio and David & Raymond really are adorable, but at this point Caleb & Oli are my favorite couple in this series. I like the dynamics between these two the push/pull of their relationship and how they challenge each other. Oli with his sexually adventurous nature and his ability to get Caleb to really examine what it is he wants all while he challenges Oli to use his adventurous nature outside of the bedroom and to look closer at his feelings.  One thing that neither Oli, nor Caleb can ignore is their attraction to each other and the sexually charged air that exist when they're together. The fact that by the end of this book not only were Caleb and Oli my favorite couple but I really like Caleb. I still don't think he's perfect but he does seem like someone that I'd be happy to know and be friends with and that I think speaks volumes to what an amazing job the author has done with this story...more so really than anything else that I could say. 


'First and First' is the third book in this series and so far each book just gets better and better and there's no way that I'm stopping whether it's the audio book or the e-book I am so on board for whatever and whoever comes next in this series. Santino Hassell has created a world that's realistic and filled with all the passion and emotion that you'd expect to find and who knows this might be only chance to spend time in New York with a bunch of hot men!

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review 2017-05-23 00:27
Apparently playing 'Catch-up' is my new favorite game...
Sunset Park - Santino Hassell

Before I get into this one let me just say these books need to come with a serious 'holy hell, hot sex here' warning.


I've been listening to these books over the course of the weekend and it just happens my hubby is home...let me just say I'm now really good with the pause and/or volume buttons. I'm actually listening to 'First and First' at the moment and finally decided it would be best if I broke down and got out the headphones before things get too awkward around here, lol!


Don't get me wrong hubby knows what I read/listen to and he doesn't care, but he's not interested in reading and/or listening to every book that I do...thank heavens for earphones or there would be some awkward moments at my house, lol. Good times my friends, good times.


Now, back to 'Sunset Park' the second book in Santino Hassell's 'Five Boroughs' series. This is David and Raymond's story. Initially I really wasn't sure how I felt about David given what I knew of him from the first book. Basically David came off as a drinking, cheating, bit of a skank...to say the least he was not impressive. Happily for me by the end of this one my feelings towards David and about the events in the first book definitely mellowed. Do I think that his cheating was acceptable no...never but as is often the case there are two sides to every story and while David was in a bad relationship with Caleb. He definitely compounded the problems with his choices resulting from their problems and that's all on him, but the fact that his relationship with Caleb wasn't good was on both of them. Ok, so let's just leave this at it's complicated and move on to Raymond.


While I was intrigued with Raymond by the end of 'Sutphin Boulevard' by the end of this book I liked Raymond a lot and I liked David a lot more than I had anticipated. More importantly I really liked David and Raymond together. They worked, they made each other want to be better people. Yes, they had their disagreements and differences but they worked them out.  There was definite growth on the part of both men and I loved that they were each others biggest defenders.  That the biggest challenge faced by these two men was caused by the disparity in their backgrounds this again went back to a very real challenge faced by many couples today and to the realism of the stories in this series.


Michael Ferraiuolo was the narrator for this book and overall I liked his voices. He ticked that basic checklist of mine...every last item. His voices were consistent, conveyed emotions, matched or meshed with my own impressions of the characters, he was consistent. In particular I liked his voices for both David and Raymond (I actually liked Raymond's voice in this book better than the first book).  


So needless to say, I'm really looking forward to the remaining two audio books that I have in this series and so far I'm totally into 'First and First' the story is excellent and the narration is superb. I love a series where the books just keep getting better and better!



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review 2017-05-22 23:07
And yet again, I'm playing catch-up...
Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs Book 1) - Santino Hassell

So here I am finally listening to a series on audio that I'm been dying to read. I loved this story. It's not happy and light or fun and fluffy that's for sure. But what it was...was gripping and painfully told with brutal realism.


Michael and Nunzio have been friends for most of their lives and they've had each other's backs and shared pretty much everything their whole lives... everything except maybe how they really feel about each other and maybe, Micheal's growing dependency on alcohol and prescription drugs. As things heat up between them, Michael's dependencies spiral out of control until he wakes up in the hospital with no real memory of how he got there.


Michael spends so much time trying to maintain the image that he thinks he should show to the world that he loses sight of who he really is and wants to be. Micheal is so wrapped up in himself that what he misses is how much both his friend Nunzio and his brother Raymond both care about and need him. 


For as much as I enjoyed this audio book there were also moments of incredible frustration for me because I've had my own life experiences with people who struggle with addiction so I have to admit sometimes my tolerance and understanding for this isn't what it should or could be but still there were times when my heart ached for Michael and what he was going through while at the same time my frustration was unlimited. It was real life...sometimes we love the person just not who and what they can become.


While I definitely had issues as to how I felt about Michael, I very much liked Nunzio. He was a good friend and cared about Michael...not just as a love interest but as a true friend and his interactions with other characters in the story showed him to be a good person...well, maybe with everyone except David but that's another story because Nunzio really did have his reasons for how he felt about David so we'll give him a pass on that. I was also a little intrigued by Raymond, Michael's brother. While I can't necessarily say that I liked him. I was intrigued and there were definite glimpses of a good and caring person. Raymond struck me as some one who had a little growing up to do and just needed to find out what he wanted from life...just a little time to finish growing up.


Rusty Topsfield was the narrator for this first installment in Santino Hassell's 'Five Boroughs' series and while his narration was consistent and thankfully ticked my basic list of what works for me with an audio book somehow it just ended up being ok. For whatever reason the voices just weren't quite what my mind was imagining, so not a case of good or bad...just a case of the connection not being there for me when it came to the voices. I'm looking forward to the next book 'Sunset Park' it's a different narrator and I'm curious to see if I connect with his voices better.

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review 2017-05-20 18:05
And the catch-up continues...
Like a Lover - Jay Northcote,Mark Steadman

'Like a Lover' is the second book in Jay Northcote's series 'Housemates' and I have to admit this book for me was good...really good. I liked Josh in the first book he struck me as sweet and someone who was a good friend to have. 


While we met Josh in 'Helping Hand', Rupert is a new character to this series he meets Josh when he's waiting for a date to arrive...a date who ultimately stands him up and as fate would have it Josh's 'date' (code talk for client) fails to show up as well. So seeing an attractive man sitting in the bar alone and having a room booked just a few floors away...well, opportunity knocks and who is Josh not to open the door and invited the attractive man sitting all by himself in.


Needless to say it doesn't take long for Josh and Rupert to hit the sheets and honestly given that this is how Josh is paying for his education if it had gone differently I would have been a little bit surprised. I liked that Josh was upfront about this. Rupert knew from the very beginning what Josh did for a living and I liked that...the honesty between these two was good, their relationship challenge didn't revolve around a 'big secret' it was refreshing.  


Sure, they still had to figure out how to deal with the reality of what Josh did to earn a living and I also liked that it was done without shaming Josh and making him feel ashamed of himself. In spite of how their relationship started there was sweetness to things between them and I really, really liked this pairing. 


Don't get me wrong, while these two were cute and adorably sweet together...they were also hot as hell!!! I mean seriously the sexy times were S-E-X-Y!!!


As with the other books in this series 'Like a Lover' was narrated by Mark Steadman and once again he's delivered another solid and enjoyable listening experience. 


So that's it folks, I'm  sorta' caught up here and first chance I get it's on to book 4 Watching and Wanting, it's Shawn's story and while he's been a bit of a dick so far. His behavior hasn't been totally unforgivable so I'm thinking it might be fun to see him get a bit of an awakening and find his HEA probably where he least expects it. 

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