First and First Blurb:
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.
I lay back in the mess of the bed, wanting to soak in the bath but unwilling to get up while Oli was pressed to my side and gazing down at me like it was the most natural thing in the world. When he smoothed my hair back from my forehead for the second time, I met his eyes.
“Oliver, what are we doing?”
He searched my face for a moment before smiling. “We’re just having fun.”
“Okay.” I quirked a smile and sat up with a groan. My body was aching in places that required an extended soak in hot water. “I want to clean up, but I don’t think I can move.”
“I’ll give you a sponge bath and you can chill in bed.”
I arched a brow, but Oli looked serious.
“Is that cool?” he asked. “I’ll throw in a massage for going so hard on you.”
I was starting to think Oli’s definition of “just fun” was a lot different from mine. Maybe my ideas of intimacy, beyond animalistic fucking, were his versions of casual trysts. But I didn’t let my confusion show. I didn’t do anything that would send him skittering off. I just nodded, smiled, and enjoyed the attention while I had it.
First and First Links:
Book 1: SUTPHIN BOULEVARD
Book 2: SUNSET PARK
Book 3: FIRST AND FIRST
5 out of 5 stars
First and First is the 3rd book in Santino Hassell's Five Boroughs series. While you could read them as standalones, I'd recommend reading them in order. The characters, places, and events interconnect and you'd miss some of the backstory for the characters.
So First and First was so F***ING good!!! I do think that Caleb and Oli have moved to the top of my favorite characters by Santino Hassell list. There is something about these two that just pull you in deeper and deeper through the pages of First and First. From the first time Caleb was on scene in this series I felt like there was more to him than meets the eye. There is, a lot more to Caleb then just what you see. First off both Caleb and Oli come from very different backgrounds then the Rodriquez brothers. They were both born into wealthy families but for both of them that actually made life way more complicated than it made it easy.
Caleb has a need for order and structure and is in many ways sexually repressed or at least behind in experiencing many aspects of gay sex. He's the kind of guy that really doesn't want to break the mold of his current existence by taking any risks or walking on the edgier side of life. Oli is the complete opposite. He loves sex, doesn't want anything to do with relationships or monogamy and is very adventurous in the bedroom. Put these two together though and there is something more than the super hot, burn the sheets sex. There is a sweet tenderness mixed in with the raunchy hotness though. That sweetness makes you realize that there is more to their relationship then the sex and the connection they get through it.
There isn't much I can pick on in any Santino Hassell book that I've read. His characterizations are spot on, the storylines are dynamic and different, and his secondary characters and scenes around the main characters are well crafted from story to story. I eagerly wait for whatever fantastic goodness comes my way from the next Santino Hassell book and can not recommend his books more as some of the best I've read in years. You must pick up this series and give it a try because from Sutphin Boulevard to First and First is one hell of a ride and some fantastic writing and storytelling to enjoy.
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.
Santino writes queer romance 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.
Standalone books by Santino Hassell:
STRONG SIGNAL (with Megan Erickson)