5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Santino Hassell

Release Day Review: Sunset Park by Santino Hassell

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Amazon

Amazon

Title: Sunset Park (A Five Boroughs Story)

Author: Santino Hassell

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 230 Pages

At a Glance: Think Sunset Park can’t possibly live up to the beauty of Sutphin Boulevard? Think again…

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation, since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

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Review: Sunset Park is a book that had a lot to live up to. At least, it did for me. Santino Hassell set the bar in this series pretty damn high with Sutphin Boulevard, and I can’t lie: I was worried that Raymond and David would pale in comparison to Mikey and Nunzio. I shouldn’t have worried, though. While “Sunset” does have a different vibe to it (it’s lighter without being fluff), it’s a fantastic opposites attracts story in its own right, and what’s become true to form with this series, now I can’t wait for book three, First and First.

The differences between the two novels in this series begin with not only the fact that Raymond and David are night and day to each other, but that the drama in Sunset Park is different from that in Sutphin Boulevard. It’s also all kinds of good. Where Mikey and Nunzio went through hell apart and together, they went through it on equal footing, their lives so deeply intertwined, and they knew each other so well. But who saw Raymond and David’s friendship coming? Hassell explores some interesting cultural divides in Sunset Park through these two men—David, the privileged white guy; Raymond, the Puerto Rican man from the blue collar neighborhood. Watching their worlds converge and their friendship coalesce was sometimes a study in frustration (I wanted to thump both their melons on more than one occasion), but the emotional and physical affection between these two is off-the-charts. And eventually, as we watch their relationship grow and change, we see this night and day contrast is actually more Yin/Yang—opposites that complement each other—and it’s kinda gorgeous.

There’s a palpable undercurrent of tension that flows between Raymond and David in the way they feel about each other—David’s out, while Raymond isn’t sure of much of anything where his feelings for David are concerned. Ray’s trying to figure out what to do with his attraction to David, and all the while, the friendship and the frisson of UST that’s always right there on the surface is crazy-making and crazy hot when they touch and wrap themselves around each other. And then, when they finally start to resolve some of that tension… holy hell. I don’t talk much about sex in my reviews, but I have to say there aren’t many authors I’ve read who can write a sex scene like Santino Hassell does. Just sayin’.

There’s a lot more to the conflict between Raymond and David than just their attraction to each other, though; it goes way beyond sex and has a lot to do with not knowing how to ask the questions that need to be asked, let alone how to answer one of the biggest: how to deal with exactly what it is they want from each other. Hassell teases these problem out through the entire book, until it comes down to make-or-break time, and they each are forced to figure out how to deal with what’s going on between them. The one thing I can respect about these books is that they’re layered with so much realism. There are family and friendship issues, work issues—this book doesn’t read like an angst for angst’s sake story, it reads like a story about real people with real problems, and what it all comes down to in the end is that Raymond doesn’t want to stop being Raymond, nor does David want him to. Raymond just wants to be a better version of himself—and that better version of himself is the man David already sees. It’s kind of gorgeous in its complicated simplicity, really.

This author has such a great voice, which bleeds into his characters feeling raw and real and sweet and sincere, and since “Sunset” is narrated by both Raymond and David, we also get to see the author flexing his writing skills to their best effect by making both characters so completely individual. Some books you read with your head, some you read with your heart. This series is one I can’t seem to help throwing myself into, full immersion, and I can’t recommend it enough. Sutphin Boulevard is simply stellar, and Sunset Park finds its own place to shine just as brightly alongside it.

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You can buy Sunset Park here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways, Santino Hassell

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Sunset Park Blog Tour with Santino Hassell

Sunset Park Banner

Hey, everyone, are you ready to have some fun??? Today we’re so pleased to have author Santino Hassell stopping by on the release day of Sunset Park, book two in The Five Boroughs series. As a special bonus, he’s also brought Raymond Rodriguez and David Butler along to play a little game. Check it out, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

Good luck!

And now, here’s the host of our show, Santino Hassell!

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The M/M Newlywed Game with Raymond and David

At the start of SUNSET PARK, Raymond and David have known each other for about six months. They met at the end of book 1 of the Five Boroughs series, and became fast friends. But just how well do they know each other? Let’s find out!

Host: I’d like to thank everyone for coming to the first M/M Newlywed Game! Today I’m hosting Raymond Rodriguez and David Butler, the stars of Santino Hassell’s upcoming book SUNSET PARK.

David: We were also in SUTPHIN BOULEVARD!

Raymond: I don’t understand why we’re playing this stupid game.

David: Because it’s fun! And Santino created us, so we have to do what he wants.

Raymond: Yeah, we’ll see about that.

David: *rolls eyes* Just be nice.

Host: Okayyy. So, how long have you been together? Let’s start with that.

Raymond: Together?

David: Oh, we’re not! Sorry, Santino should have explained.  Ray is straight. We’re just friends.

Raymond: Does this mean I don’t have to play?

David: No. We already answered all the questions!

Host: Let me explain how this works to the audience. Traditionally, I ask spouses the same set of questions while the other is out of the room, and matching answers get points. They have to get at least fifty points to “win”. It’s a way to see how well newlyweds know each other. Or in this case how well these two friends know each other.

Raymond: Don’t put weird emphasis on words.

Host: *ignoring Raymond* On this round of the M/M Newlywed Game—

David: Newlyfriended Game.

Host: —we’ll see how well David knows Raymond. We’ll test Raymond on Tuesday, December 15th, at Charlie Cochet’s Purple Rose Teahouse.

Raymond: Holy shit, can you stop pimping Santino’s tour and ask the fucking questions? I have things to do.

David: *kicks Raymond*

Host: Okay David, first question—who is Raymond’s favorite singer?

David: Nooo, that is super hard! Bah. *bites lip and squints at Raymond* Ummm. I’m going to go with Big Pun? I’m probably wrong, but he always gets super excited and turns up the radio whenever a Big Pun or Terror Squad song comes on the radio.

Raymond: *flips up card saying ‘Big Pun/Terror Squad’* You’re lucky. I almost changed it.

David: *fist pumps*

Host: Okay, next up—What is Raymond’s favorite comfort food?

David: Pastelles! He always asks me to bring him some from the restaurant near my job.

Raymond: *flips up card that says ‘pastelles’* They make them good there, and my Boricua food resources are tapped out unless I go to visit my friend’s mother.

Host: What is Raymond’s favorite article of clothing?

David: Pssh. That’s easy. His Yankees cap. It gets all sweaty and gross after he plays handball too.

Raymond: So stop wearing my shit! *holds up card that says ‘fitted Yankees cap’*

Host: You two are adorable.

Raymond: *sneer*

David: You’re right. I am.

Host: Okay David—what’s Raymond’s most used curse word?

David: Fuck.

Raymond: *holds up card without comment*

Host: These are a little more challenging. Who are Raymond’s closest friends?

David: Oh! That’s easy. Chris, Sharky, Tonya, and Stephanie.

Raymond: *smirks and holds up card that says Chris, Sharky, Tonya, Steph, and David*

Host: Ohhhh.

David: Oh, wow I didn’t—

Raymond: Dumbass.

David: *scoots closer to Raymond on the couch until they’re pressed together* I knew you loved me.

Raymond: Oh, shut up.

Host: *grinning* Who would Raymond say takes longer to get ready—you or him.

David: Oh God. Totally him. His hair takes like fifty hours to comb or wash.

Raymond: That is some bullshit. *holds up card saying ‘David’* You and your seventy two pairs of shoes. He be paying like almost five hundred bucks for some ugly ass—

David: Don’t insult my shoes or I’ll get started on your assortment of hoodies and sweats. Who needs that many pairs of sweatpants or hoodies?

Raymond: Again—then don’t wear them when you come over!

David: Your clothes are more comfy.

Host: Riiight. So, David, what is one thing you do that Raymond claims to not like, but you do it anyway?

David: I cuddle him nonstop. And jump tackle hug him. He’s tall, okay? It’s fun.

Raymond: *holds up sign that says ‘stage five clinger hugs’*

David: He likes it. He’s such a liar.

Raymond: Whatever.

Host:  Who would Raymond say is the better catch out of the two of you?

David: He’d say me because he’s ridiculous and judges himself way too harshly.

Raymond: *holds up sign that says ‘David. He has a solid job + better social skills + is prettier’*

David: *blushing* The last one is a lie, and he knows it. When we walk down the street people stop to ogle Raymond. Eyes literally follow him wherever he goes.

Raymond: They fall out of people’s faces?

David: They’re going to fall out of mine if I keep rolling them at you.

Host: What’s the first body part Raymond notices when he’s attracted to someone? 

David: Umm. I don’t know. He never talks about being attracted to anyone! I guess… if I go by the stunningly gorgeous women he’s slept with in the past, I’d say their face?

Raymond: *holds up sign that says ‘smile’*

David: I totally get points for that! I am not missing another question.

Host: Close enough. Let’s hope you get this last question then: What would Raymond say is the moment when he first realized he cared about you? As a friend. 

David: *stares at Raymond and gnaws on lower lip again* I think… the only thing that makes sense is the first time I came over to the house in Queens. It was while his brother was in rehab, after the death of their father, and Raymond was there all alone. He was talking about… having no parents and how it felt to be alone in that house after everything that had happened, and—

Raymond: *puts an arm around David*

David: *presses into his side* Anyway, we um, I hugged him. And he let me. I thought he’d push me away, but he didn’t. After that, we talked to each other every day.

Raymond: *flips up card that says ‘the night we talked about my parents’*

Host: Well done, David!

David: Do we win?

Raymond: What happens if we win? Do I get money?

David: No, we do not get money.

Host: We won’t know if you win until Raymond finishes his round. Tune in next time for round two of the M/M Newlywed Game with Raymond and David!

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SunsetParkFSBlurbSunset Park

A Five Boroughs Story 

Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation, since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon || Barnes & Noble || All Romance eBooks

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Santino Hassell imageAbout the Author: Santino is a writer of queer romance 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.

Find Santino: Website || Facebook || Newsletter || Twitter || Goodreads || Amazon

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Happy Sunday, fellow book addicts, and welcome back to another sneak peek of what we have in store for you in the week ahead. It’s going to be packed to the hilt with guests, giveaways, and reviews, so without further delay, here’s what’s coming up!

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Monday – Kicking off our week, we’ll be welcoming author Rebecca Cohen on the tour for her new novel He’s Behind You

We’ll also have author Rick R. Reed with us today on the tour for his new romantic thriller The Couple Next Door

Tuesday – Today we’ve got a big day planned, starting with a cover reveal for Lane Hayes’s new novel A Kind of Truth

Then following that, we’ll have author Kate Hill with us to chat about her new novel Blow by Blow

Finally, we’ll be hosting the Home for the Holidays Anthology blog tour with SJ Himes, Jenna Kendrick, Heather C. Leigh, Liv Rancourt, and Felice Stevens

Wednesday – Sticking with the “Big Day” theme, today we kick things off with author Cardeno C. on the audiobook tour for Just What the Truth Is, book five in the Home series

Next, author Silvia Violet joins us on the tour for her new novel Professional Distance

Followed by author JA Rock on The Subs Club blog Tour

And finally, we’ll have another installment in DSP Publications’ “Genre Talk” with Carole Cummings and Lex Chase to look forward to

Thursday – Today kicks off with author Joe Cosentino on the tour for his new Christmas novella A Home for the Holidays

And next up we’ll welcome author LB Gregg on the tour for With This Bling, book three in one of my all-time favorites, the Romano and Albright series

Friday – We have a couple of great guests today; first comes author Cate Ashwood on the tour for her new novel A Forced Silence

Then, author Santino Hassell stops back by on the tour for the second novel in his Five Boroughs series, Sunset Park

Saturday – To close out the week, we’re pleased to be taking part in a very special tour for Pride Publishing’s Racing Hearts Anthology, with contributing author Ethan Stone. All proceeds from the book will be donated to Cancer Research UK and Prospect Hospice in memory of Peter Laybourn, the late husband of Pride editor Sue Laybourn

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And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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Damon Suede, Giveaways, Karen Stivali, Santino Hassell

Excerpts and Giveaway: The #NYCDreamer Blog Tour with Karen Stivali, Santino Hassell, and Damon Suede

NYC Dreamer BAnner

We’re so pleased to be hosting authors Karen Stivali, Santino Hassell, and Damon Suede on the #NYCDreamer blog tour today. Enjoy the exclusive excerpts from each of books, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an autographed paperback copy of each book.

Good luck!

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MomentofSilenceBlurb – Moment of Silence: Growing up, Jason Stern led a charmed life complete with devoted sisters, a father who was one of Brooklyn’s most respected rabbis, and a mother who made the world’s best babka. He headed to NYU ready for anything—except falling for the wrong guy, coming out, and getting disowned by his once-loving family. In spite of that, Jason managed to graduate with honors. He’s got friends who treat him like family, and he’s proudly running the largest LGBTQ teen shelter in Manhattan. Life is good, but he’s still falling for the wrong men.

When charming, sexy Quinn Fitzpatrick begins work at the shelter, Jason falls hard and fast. Quinn is tall, blond, funny—damn near perfect. Only if Quinn’s gay, even he doesn’t seem to know it. If he does, he’s not telling anyone. And he’s about one ceremony away from becoming a Catholic priest.

Long hours of work turn to long nights of talking and laughter, and Jason dares to hope this time he’s falling for the right guy. But Quinn’s got a past to deal with and major decisions to make about his future. When Quinn leaves for a silent retreat, Jason knows the silence may change everything.

Pre-Order Link: Dreamspinner Press

Other books in the Moments In Time seriesMOMENT OF IMPACT (Book 1) || MOMENT OF TRUTH (Book 2) || MOMENT OF CLARITY (Book 3) || MOMENTS IN TIME (a compilation of Books 1-3)

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Excerpt(In this scene Jason and Quinn have gone out to grab a bite to eat together and Jason is teaching Quinn the joys of all the ethnic foods that are so readily available in the area of the East Village where they’re working together to expand the local LGBTQ Teen Shelter.)

Pierogi were just what the evening required. We got two orders, potato with fried onions and cheese, doused in butter. To round things out, we added a gigantic link of kielbasa and finished it all off with blueberry blintzes. By the time we were done eating, I was so full I could barely move.

“This was awesome.” Quinn licked a purple streak of blueberry off his fork before setting it down and pushing his plate away.

I was too mesmerized by the sight of his tongue to speak right away.

The waitress stopped at our booth. “All set?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

She placed the paper check between us, and Quinn reached for it, but I grabbed it first. “I’ve got this one. Make up for the popcorn you gave away.”

“You don’t have to do that.” He pulled out his wallet and put a twenty on the table.

“You can’t let anyone do anything for you, can you?”

Quinn’s eyes bugged, then softened. “Yeah, I guess I do have a problem with that sometimes.”

“Sometimes?”

“Okay, most of the time.”

“You know what they say. The first step is admitting you have a problem. And the second is letting me pay for dinner.” I stuck the check and enough money for the meal and tip under the glass sugar shaker, then grabbed Quinn’s twenty, folded it in half, leaned over, and tucked it into his shirt pocket.

My fingers were in the pocket before I fully realized what I was doing. Then the whole universe condensed into the drag of my fingers on that two-inch-square area of his chest. His rock-solid chest that tightened the instant I made contact. My own chest froze, devoid of air. I’d forgotten how to breathe. All I could do was think about the fact that I had my hand on this man who’d consumed my waking and sleeping hours for weeks. And I had to let go. Literally.

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Karen StivaliAbout the Author: Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. She’s also the multiple award-winning author of contemporary and erotic romances. She writes novels about love…like real life, only hotter.

Karen’s lifelong fascination with people has led her to careers ranging from hand-drawn animator, to party planner, to marriage and family counselor, but writing has always been her passion. Karen enjoys nothing more than following her characters on their journey toward love. Whether the couples are m/f or m/m, it’s guaranteed that Karen’s novels are filled with food, friendship, love, and smoking hot sex—all the best things in life.

When Karen isn’t writing (and often when she is), she can be found on Twitter attempting witty banter and detailing the antics of her fruit-loving cat, BadKitteh. She loves to hear from readers (and other writers), so don’t hesitate to contact/follow/like her at:

Twitter || Facebook || Website || Pinterest || Goodreads || E-mail

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SunsetParkFSBlurb – Sunset Park (A Five Boroughs Story): Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation, since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

Pre-Order Link: Dreamspinner Press

Other Books in the Five Boroughs SeriesSUTPHIN BOULEVARD || Book 2: FIRST AND FIRST coming in April 2016

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Excerpt: St. Mark’s Place was crowded with the usual blend of posers, hipsters, and NYU students. I only knew the place had once been a haven for punks and alternative rocker kids because Oli got all woe is me about it, even though he’d transformed himself from a teen who had used safety pins instead of zippers to a guy who wouldn’t go anywhere without a shiny, wingtip shoe. The only surviving relics of that era seemed to be the street vendors selling pipes and bongs, a thrift shop that catered to the eccentric, and an overpriced punk rock boutique that I could not step in without feeling like an intruder.

“I used to cut school down here when I was a kid,” Raymond noted as we bypassed the new high-rise buildings that were being constructed along St. Mark’s Place.

“Haven’t been back in a minute.”

“What did you do down here?”

Raymond gave a rolling shrug, eyes flicking over cramped doorways leading to narrow gift shops and eateries. “It didn’t used to be tourist central. There was a tattoo and piercing shop down those stairs that didn’t card me,” he said, jerking his chin across the street. The place he was talking about was almost hidden by a staircase leading up to a brownstone, and more stalls with snarky tourist gifts. One vendor was selling an array of neon wigs. “And The Continental was a venue for indie bands. Now it’s just some bar.”

“I didn’t take you for the indie band type,” I said. “Or I wouldn’t have before I scoped out your Spotify playlists.”

“You really do be snooping, don’t you?”

“I’m a curious person.”

“You’re a creeper.”

If only he knew just how creepy I could be. Like watching him sleep for a few minutes before waking him up in the morning (Raymond almost always hit snooze on his alarm enough times to actually be late), or wearing his hoodies or sweaters not just because the excess fabric was cozy, but because they smelled like him. But he hadn’t yet caught on to those things, and I wasn’t going to tell him.

We walked to the end of the block before veering down a short staircase to the Afghan restaurant. It was mostly empty except for a few couples sitting at the tables around the perimeter of the dim space, so I pleaded with the hostess to seat us at the elevated table by the window with the masses of cushions in lieu of chairs. It was swathed in gold and maroon, overly decadent, but it made me want to squish in next to Raymond instead of sitting across from him. I lingered by the side of the table until he rolled his eyes and scooted over to make room for me. Us sitting next to each other looked exceptionally gay, but Raymond either didn’t notice or didn’t care.

We ordered mantoo and ashe soup, two different kebabs, and a quorma dish to share. I also pointedly ignored Raymond’s snickers as I ordered peach flavored hookah. The hookah went mostly ignored while we sampled the food, primarily because eating off the same plate as Raymond in public was making me conscious of details I would have otherwise ignored. How his body was half turned to me, our knees pressed together, the way he leaned in to reach something and did not shy away when I automatically pushed back his hair. Many simple, easy moments that added up to a degree of implied intimacy only seen with couples.

“These people probably think we’re on a date,” I said once the plates were cleared. “We look like we’re together.”

Raymond looked at me as he exhaled a cloud of peach-scented smoke. “Your point being?”

“These people don’t care. It’s, like, queer central down here.”

I wrapped my lips around the mouthpiece, enjoying the dampness from his mouth. The taste washed over me, and the inhaling and exhaling soothed me.

I blew smoke into his face. He didn’t fan it away, and I thought he looked even more attractive in the dim, golden light with wisps of smoke hanging between us.

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Santino Hassell image

About the Author: Santino is a writer of queer romance 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.

Find Santino: Website || Facebook || Newsletter || Twitter || Goodreads || Amazon

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Pent UpBlurb – PENT UP: Mix business with pleasure and take cover.

Ruben Oso moves to Manhattan to start his life over as a low-rent bodyguard and stumbles into a gig in a swanky Park Avenue penthouse. What begins as executive protection turns personal working for a debonair zillionaire who makes Ruben question everything about himself.

Watching over financial hotshot Andy Bauer puts Ruben in an impossible position. He knows zero about shady trading and his cocky boss lives barricaded in a glass tower with wall-to-wall secrets and hot-and-cold-running paranoia. Can the danger be real? Is Andy for real?

What’s a bullet catcher to do? Ruben knows his emotions are out of control even as he races to untangle a high-priced conspiracy and his crazy feelings before somebody gets dead. If his suspicions are right, Andy will pay a price neither can afford, and Ruben may discover there’s no way to guard a heart.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon || All Romance eBooks

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Excerpt (Chapter Four): Sometimes a plan is just a list of things that don’t happen.

Ruben talked Andy into working out and some basic self-defense training. In exchange, Ruben consented to hit the paths in Central Park three mornings a week at dawn. He refused to sleep over, but the tradeoff seemed fair.

Ruben made it downtown half-awake, freshly rinsed and wearing old soccer shorts and duct-taped Nikes. The Iris doormen watched them leave with undisguised pity. What did they know about staying in shape at forty?

Madness.

The first time they met in the Iris lobby at 6:00 a.m., Andy chided, “The early bird catches the worm.”

“Sure.” Ruben raised one grumpy brow. “But the early worm gets eaten by the bird.”

What he learned is that jogging is legalized suicide.

Ruben, a few steps behind for much of the trek to the park, watched the sweat spread across Andy’s back like faint wings and then creep toward his waistband before they’d even started in earnest. He’d forgotten that it was almost July.

They ran.

Andy, for his part, led the way silently, allowing Ruben to follow the subtle cues of his body. No need to speak really. Together, they fell into a lope that Ruben hoped he could sustain without puking, pissing his shorts, or passing out.

Central Park was shaded but the morning sun still drizzled over them like hot grease. Humidity made breathing slow and arduous as they pounded the concrete paths under the trees. His quads burned and after ten minutes he could feel sweat glinting off him with every step.

Andy obviously knew how to pace himself, matching Ruben tread for tread. He was slippery with perspiration but looked relaxed and happy for some horrible reason. His corded legs took the terrain effortlessly.

Ruben focused on keeping his breath steady. He’d been cooped up indoors for too many weeks. He hadn’t realized just how much he missed sun, trees, sky. On the other hand, his thighs and calves felt flayed raw.

Without thinking Ruben took off his T-shirt and wrapped it around his fist. Too hot to feel self-conscious. Besides, he’d been in New York long enough to start losing the Florida color, his brown skin dulling to a fishbelly-beige. Sunlight slid over his shoulders like a heavy robe.

Andy looked him up and down but said nothing.

Suddenly jogging seemed like a great idea.

After fifteen minutes, the air didn’t even feel hot anymore and Ruben could feel his thirsty skin drinking the crazy green light that snuck through the trees. Sweat slid down his ribs, staining his waistband dark.

Andy gave what sounded like a big, satisfied sigh and Ruben realized he could hear it as if Andy had exhaled right into his ear because the city was so far away.

Quiet.

Aside from the scuff of their shoes on the path, the noises of Manhattan waking up had all but vanished. No cars yet. A dozy scent of bark and fresh grass hung in the air and the skyscrapers rose like geometric cliffs too distant to deserve caution. He snuck a look at Andy and caught him looking back.

Andy nodded and raised his eyebrows, some secret arcing between them.

Not that Central Park was a secret, but that it hid one: this mild dappled glow that filtered out the city. Strange, but somehow familiar.

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Damon SuedeAbout the Author: Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Having lived all over, he’s earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director… but writing has ever been his bread and butter.

Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been a full-time writer for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He has won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year. Get in touch with him at DamonSuede.com.

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Dates and Stops:

30 November: Prism Book Alliance
30 November: The Novel Approach
1 December: FB Party (with 8 authors)
3 December: Guilty Pleasures?
4 December: Love Bytes Reviews
9 December: Joyfully Jay
11 December: Ever After
14 December: Heroes & Heartbreakers
17 December: FB NYC party
21 December: Scandalicious Book Blog
28 December: Sinfully Sexy…

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, fellow fictionistas, and welcome back to another look at what we have coming in the week ahead! We’ve got a busy one coming up, with lots of great guests, giveaways, and reviews in store, so here’s what you’ll see in the upcoming seven days!

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Monday – We’re kicking off this week with authors Santino Hassell, Damon Suede, and Karen Stivali on their #NYCDreamer tour to talk about their new and upcoming novels: Sunset Park, Pent Up, and Moment of Silence

We’ll also have author Cardeno C. with us on a book blast promo tour for the re-release of In Your Eyes

Finally, author Lynley Wayne will be back with the final installment of her three part column on creating a more effective website

Tuesday – Stopping in today we have author Lynn Lorenz touring the interwebs on a Backlist Book Tour

We’ll also have author Scarlet Blackwell with us on the tour for her new book Forbidden

Wednesday – Today we’ll have author April Kelley joining us on the tour for her new book Leave It All

We’ll also have author Talia Carmichael back with a guest post for The Prose Speak

Thursday – Author Keira Andrews joins us today on the tour for her new holiday book If Only in My Dreams

We’ll also be hosting author Max Vos on the tour for his new novel My Hero: The Olympian

Friday – Today we’ll have author RJ Scott with us on the tour for her novel Love’s Design

We’ll also have a new installment of DSP Publications’ “Genre Talk” with authors Carole Cummings and BA Brock

Saturday – Author Rhys Ford stops by today to close out the tour of her new novel Fish Stick Fridays

Sunday – And finally, closing out the week we’ll have author Christina Lee joining us on the tour for her new novel The Deepest Blue

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And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Horror, Paranormal, Reviewed By JJ, Santino Hassell

Release Day Review: Stygian by Santino Hassell

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Stygian

Author: Santino Hassell

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 217 Pages

At a Glance: I loved this book. I recommend Stygian to anyone who loves horror, paranormal, and dark m/m romance.

Reviewed By: JJ

Blurb: Jeremy has been isolated and adrift since the death of his brother. Most people just see him as the skinny emo kid who wears eyeliner and plays drums. No one gets him. Nobody tries. He thought the indie rock band Stygian would become his anchor, but—lost in their own problems—they’re far from the family he sought.

Still, hoping to get close to Kennedy, the band’s enigmatic guitarist, he follows Stygian to northern Louisiana for a summer retreat. They had planned to spend six weeks focusing on new music, but things go awry as soon as they arrive at the long-deserted Caroway mansion. Tempers flare, sexual tension boils over into frustration, and Jeremy turns away from the band to find a friend in his eerily beautiful landlord Hunter Caroway.

Kennedy suspects there’s something off about the creepy mansion and its mysterious owners, but Jeremy thinks he’s finally found somewhere he fits. It isn’t until Kennedy forces the Caroways’ secrets into the light that Jeremy realizes belonging sometimes comes with a price.

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Review: After the death of his brother, Jeremy suffers from bouts of madness. He is still trying to get back on his feet when he joins the band called Stygian. He is also motivated to join due to his crush on the guitar player, Kennedy. The book begins when the band decides to rent a house for the summer in order to write new music. However, everything goes wrong from the beginning. No one in the band is on the same wavelength, and they are always fighting with one another. To make matters worse, there is something very creepy about the house and its owners, Hunter and his sister. Even though things don’t feel right, Jeremy ends up becoming closer to Hunter and distancing himself from the band. Fearing the resurgence of his psychosis, Jeremy keeps his suspicions about the house and its owners to himself until it is almost too late.

In addition to being a great book, this genre was a new experience for me. Though there are paranormal and romantic elements, Stygian feels more like horror than anything. I loved how the story kept me on my toes due to not knowing what scary thing would happen next. However, I especially loved the psychological element and the mind games they get sucked into. Due to Jeremy’s past, he was more inclined to doubt his sanity rather than believe the messed up things happening around him.

Another aspect of this book that was impressive was the complicated relationship dynamics between the band members. Jeremy is somewhat lost, but he’s in a band with guys who are also quite lost and damaged. Through their adventure in the house, Jeremy learns painful things about his band mates that help him put his own suffering into perspective. It takes the band almost falling apart before they have the strength to come together and look out for one another. In addition to being suspenseful, this book was also quite sexy.

I loved this book. I recommend Stygian to anyone who loves horror, paranormal, and dark m/m romance.

TNA_Signature_JJ

 

 

 

You can buy Stygian here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways, Santino Hassell

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Stygian Blog Tour with Santino Hassell

Stygian blog tour banner - short

Hi, everyone! Give us a hand in welcoming author Santino Hassell to TNA today, on the kickoff for the Stygian blog tour. Enjoy Santino’s guest post, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance at some great prizes, including:

*A queer paranormal book pack
*A “gothic” tote bag
*A Stygian t-shirt
*A signed copy of Stygian

Good luck!

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I’m With the Band

When I was in high school, I was very briefly in a band. I wasn’t patient enough to learn how to play an instrument on my own and my parents were definitely not about to shell out the duckets to put me in lessons, so I sang. I’m not saying I sang well, but I tried my best and my bandmates only heckled me… a little.

My experience being in a band, and being around other garage bands, was that it can be extremely dysfunctional. Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time together, but it was often an intense situation. Five guys with big personalities in one room trying to make a coherent piece of music sounds like a setup for shenanigans. And it was. Constant bickering, nitpicking of each other’s parts and contributions, lateness, imbibing, irresponsibility, and then the slow build of resentment.

I’m not saying ALL bands experience these things but mine certainly did, and I poured some of that into STYGIAN.

STYGIAN is a book about four disaffected queer guys in their twenties who haven’t had a lot of luck in life, and are trying hard to make their band work. The trouble is, the collective chips on their shoulders breeds discontent and most dangerous of all—distrust. However, the feelings shared by these bandmates are so intense that there’s hope for them to overcome their past trauma. They just have to deal with pissing matches, jealousy, and the often frustrating reality of unresolved sexual tension in the process. Oh, and there’s also that whole paranormal element…

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StygianFSBlurb: Jeremy has been isolated and adrift since the death of his brother. Most people just see him as the skinny emo kid who wears eyeliner and plays drums. No one gets him. Nobody tries. He thought the indie rock band Stygian would become his anchor, but—lost in their own problems—they’re far from the family he sought.

Still, hoping to get close to Kennedy, the band’s enigmatic guitarist, he follows Stygian to northern Louisiana for a summer retreat. They had planned to spend six weeks focusing on new music, but things go awry as soon as they arrive at the long-deserted Caroway mansion. Tempers flare, sexual tension boils over into frustration, and Jeremy turns away from the band to find a friend in his eerily beautiful landlord Hunter Caroway.

Kennedy suspects there’s something off about the creepy mansion and its mysterious owners, but Jeremy thinks he’s finally found somewhere he fits. It isn’t until Kennedy forces the Caroways’ secrets into the light that Jeremy realizes belonging sometimes comes with a price.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon || All Romance eBooks || Barnes & Noble

Add Stygian to Your Goodreads Shelf

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Excerpt: “What the hell is wrong with you?” Kennedy exuded the type of impatience he usually saved for packed all-ages clubs that required wounding and maiming to reach an exit. “You’re cultivating your own brand of bitterness at a breakneck speed, and it’s a little fucking irritating.”

Jeremy’s face warmed but he didn’t deny it. It was why he typically sucked up insults and snide comments— his own comebacks made it clear he was more hurt than angry. Which was so much worse.

“I don’t know. I’m just… something.”

“Enlightening.”

Jeremy groaned, covering his face with his hand. “I’m sorry, okay? Just tell me what you wanted to tell me, and I’ll stop being a brat.”

The mattress sank under the weight of Kennedy’s muscular frame. They were close—a little too close—and Jeremy swallowed heavily. Proximity to Kennedy was always a distraction, but with them alone in the house, with their bodies tucked close enough for Jeremy to smell the cigarette smoke and clean sweat clinging to Kennedy’s skin, it was also too intimate. Too easy to remember the night on the porch and all of the things that could have happened if Kennedy had been serious. If he’d opened his mouth a bit more. Let Jeremy taste the hot wetness inside.

Realizing he’d been staring, and imagining, Jeremy shifted his weight and tried to roll away. Kennedy held him in place.

“You’re not a brat.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m just a kid.”

“Jesus Christ.” Kennedy’s breath gusted out. “It’s not an insult. What do you want me to call you? Baby? Darling?”

Jeremy’s face went from warm to burning. “You could just call me Jeremy. Believe it or not, I’m not in fucking love with you like everyone claims,” he lied. “I don’t need terms of endearment when the three syllables in my name work just fine.” Kennedy said nothing, and Jeremy pushed on with a burst of bravado. “And the only time I let a guy call me baby is when he’s in my ass.”

Peripheral vision gave a clear view of Kennedy’s mouth falling open as he did a slow circuit of Jeremy’s sprawled body. “And when’s the last time that happened?”

“The bathroom of that club in Galveston. When we opened up for the Party Kills.”

Kennedy’s gaze sharpened. “Are you kidding me?”

“No.”

“Who?”

“The drummer.”

“You—” Kennedy caught Jeremy’s chin between his thumb and index finger. “You let that monkey-sticking kandi kid nail you?”

“He’s hot,” Jeremy said defensively. “Tall. Hard body. Who cares if he used to cover himself in beaded bracelets in, like, the ’90s?”

Disapproval radiated from Kennedy. And something that sent his lip sloping in a mean curve. “You sure know how to pick them. What’s next? That creepy bastard who owns this hellhole?”

“Hunter isn’t creepy. He’s nice. He even showed me how to get to his house in case I need him for anything.”

“Oh, I bet he fucking did.”

“Dude, what is your problem? Why do you even care whose dick I ride? It’s not like you want me to touch yours.” Jeremy rolled onto his side. Attempts at being brash kept leading to embarrassment, and he really needed to quit while he was ahead.

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Santino HassellAuthor Bio: Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction 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.

Find Santino at: Website || Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week!

Sneak Peek

Greetings from somewhere over the US, everyone! :) I’m flying home from San Diego right now—I’m sure GRL was a lot of laughs. Just a guess since I’m typing this before I’ve even left home, but let’s just go with it, shall we?

Thanks so much for dropping in to see what we have in store for you in the coming week. In keeping with my apparent ability to predict the future, it’s sure to be a good one, with lots of great guests, giveaways, and more reviews to come.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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Monday – Kicking off this week, we’ll first be bringing you the exclusive cover reveal for author Garrett Leigh’s upcoming novel Between Ghosts

To add to that, we’ll also have author Santino Hassell here to chat about his new novel Stygian from Dreamspinner Press

Brita Addams also joins us today to chat about her newest historical novel Beloved Unmasked

Tuesday – We get to bring you another cover reveal today, as we help authors Piper Vaughn and Kenzie Cade show off the pretty artwork for their new novel Prickly By Nature

We’ll also have author A.M. Arthur dropping by on the tour for her new novel The World as He Sees It, so stay tuned for that

Wednesday – Author Anna Butler will be our guest as she tours the internet to chat about her new novel Heart Scarab

Thursday – Today we’ll be bringing you an exclusive interview with author Amy Lane as we continue to celebrate Queer Romance Month

We’ll also welcome author Thianna Durston today as she drops by TNA on her Drakyl Ranch: Discovery tour

Friday – And finally, to help us close out the week, we’ll have author Ethan Stone with us on the tour for his new book Closing Ranks

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And that does it for the week ahead. Until next Sunday, happy reading!

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Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways, Santino Hassell

Guest Post and Giveaway: Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell

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The Novel Approach welcomes author Santino Hassell today, on his Sutphin Boulevard blog tour. Enjoy his guest post, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Good luck!

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Is it ever “just sex”?

As I write each book in the Five Boroughs series, I realize there are common themes between a few of the novels. Particularly people who go from friends to lovers. People who think they can do the casual thing and be satisfied with “just sex” only to realize it’s not possible for them. They always want more because they end up consumed by feelings of affection and possessiveness that have no place in a casual arrangement.

I probably write about this type of romance so frequently because I’ve experienced it several times in my own life. Several of my lovers have started as friends and several of my fuck buddies inevitably turned into lovers (or ended disastrously because one of us couldn’t maintain the casual aspect). If you’re like me—someone who doesn’t always click with people or who rarely latches on when attempting to date strangers—it’s not hard to imagine why you might catch feelings for those rare individuals who get you.

When you find someone who accepts the real you, someone who doesn’t expect you to be “on” all the time, it’s a special thing. And if you happen to be attracted to that person… well then that’s when things get complicated. And that’s where things got complicated for Michael and Nunzio in SUTPHIN BOULEVARD.

Michael and Nunzio have known each other for twenty years and they’ve been best friends every step of the way. They had each other’s backs while growing up in Jamaica, Queens, were family to each other when their own parents were too broken to function, and have never made a life-changing decision without consulting each other. Suffice to say, they’re the most important people in each other’s lives.

And that’s before the first time they have sex. Which happens in chapter one.

After writing the first draft of SUTPHIN BOULEVARD, I had some conversations about why I chose to put such an intense sex scene in the first chapter. There’s a possibility it would turn readers off and there’s also a possibility that it would imply the book has a hedonistic/light tone when that’s far from the truth. The book tackles some heavy themes and contains serious subject matter, but sex is important to Michael and Nunzio’s evolving relationship and that’s why the book starts with them being intimate for the first time.

It happens after a night of partying (after Michael tries to get over a recent breakup), and it unveils a new aspect to their relationship that neither man can ignore.

So, what do you think, readers? Does casual sex ever work? Can it ever be “just sex”? Let me know in the comments!

© 2015 Santino Hassell.

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Blurb: 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.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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SH Author PicAbout the Author: Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction 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.

Find Santino At: Website | Facebook | Newsletter | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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5 Stars, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jules, Reviewed by Lisa, Santino Hassell

Buddy Review: Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell

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I try not to hoard all the books submitted to us for review. Truly, I do try. But sometimes a book comes along that I want to read and review really, really bad. The problem is that sometimes someone else wants that book really, really bad too. That happened with Sutphin Boulevard. Jules and I read this book–not so much together, because we’re separated geographically by a three hour time zone difference, but we burned up the texting apps on our phones along the way in our virtual love-fest of it.

You won’t find a Point-Counterpoint aspect to our reviews. We love this book the same, so the only thing you’ll find different here is our writing and reviewing styles. Suffice it to say, though, that we’re still talking about Mikey and Nunzio, even now.

And when you read as much as we do, that sort of book is a rare beast, indeed.

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Title: Sutphin Boulevard (Five Burroughs: Book One)

Author: Santino Hassell

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 264 Pages

At a Glance: Go. Buy. Now.

Reviewed By: Jules and Lisa

Blurb: 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.

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Jules’ Review: Santino Hassell’s writing has been described as ‘gritty’. And it is that, no doubt. But, it’s also full of beauty and heart and wit. And romance. I swooned HARD for these guys. The writing feels authentic, not researched. Santino Hassell is simply a great storyteller, and great storytelling begins with great characters. Lisa and I couldn’t stop talking about this book for weeks after we finished it. One of the things we both kept coming back to was that final scene, and how utterly perfect and gorgeous the writing was. Another thing that was repeated numerous times, though, in varying degrees of flail, depending on the scene being discussed, was how much we just fucking LOVED these characters. They are so real, and there is so much meat to them…we honestly just couldn’t get enough.

Sutphin Boulevard is Michael’s story…Michael’s journey…but I have to start with Nunzio. Gahhhhh, you guys. This man is so far beyond sexy there isn’t even a word for it. Some of the descriptions of him in the book are perfection – made even more perfect by the fact that they are views of him through Mikey’s eyes…

Nunzio’s pale blue eyes flashed the way they did when he was ready to light the fire on his Sicilian temper and go explosive on someone who had pushed him – or someone he cared about – a little too far.

Nunzio had always been the charming one of our duo. The one who could get an allegedly straight frat boy to drop his pants with no more than a suggestive comment and a raised brow.

Aside from being sexy, and fiery, and beautiful, though – even more importantly – he’s also the best person Michael has ever known.

I have so much love for Nunzio – for both of them – but, Nunzio is the tortured hero. The one holding everything together, until it becomes too much even for him. This line…

“I wish I knew what to do to help you. Both of you.”

Heart-wrenching. I loved every single minute he was on the page, and would have loved to be even more inside his head…but to feel his hurt directly through him, instead of just through Michael’s observations, may have put the angst level over the top.

Okay, let’s talk about Michael. As I said above, this is his journey, and I’m not gonna lie, it’s a rough one. Things haven’t been right since leaving his life in Manhattan, and moving back to his childhood home in Queens after his mother passes away. His brother Ray, who, at twenty-five, still can’t get his act together, also lives there and is a constant source of frustration and stress for Michael. We get hints throughout the book that Michael can’t handle his life, at least the turn it has taken in the last year, very well. The way he leans on Nunzio for support, and his constant need to escape, are evident from the beginning. But, once his father shows up out of the blue and announces that he’s moving back in, and that he’s dying, the shit truly hits the fan.

Born of his feeling trapped by his situation at home, Michael’s downward spiral is so tough to read. Clearly on the path to self-destruction, but feeling powerless to stop it, his apathy at times was maddening. How could he not care that he was about to lose his job? How could he put everyone through all of this agony, when even he admitted he knew full well what he was doing? How was he so blind to the rightness of his relationship with Nunzio, when he himself had observed so many times how centered Nunzio made him feel, and how he was the only one who could make him feel that way? Addiction, folks. That’s how.

Santino Hassell nailed the alcoholism/addiction aspect of this story – and, it was a huge part of the story. The emotions, the excuses, the denial, the apathy – not to mention Nunzio’s (and Ray’s) struggle and helplessness at watching it all go down – was soooo realistically and beautifully written.

Michael’s inability to handle the changes in his life, the biggest one, of course, being the shift in his and Nunzio’s relationship, leads him to heavier substance abuse. The heavier substance abuse causes him to withdraw and refuse to face what’s going on with them. His crippling fear of ruining their friendship almost takes everything away from him. Michael knows that he can’t live without Nunzio. He knows deep down that Nunzio is everything – that their relationship is everything – but, he can’t piece it all together because there is so much other ‘clutter’ in his life. He does finally have a moment of clarity in rehab, however, and we get this unforgettable line:

My thoughts had rerouted to an option I’d never even considered before: my best friend, my one-and-only, my fucking soul mate, Nunzio.

Where their friendship is the stuff of legends – completely rock solid, honest, and unbreakable – their romance is even more so. When I tell you these guys are ON FIRE, I mean their chemistry will melt your brain. The sex scenes in this book are BE-YOND hot.

Before wrapping up, I want to quickly touch on a few other important things…

A bit more about Michael: He’s so much more than the angst train he’s on throughout much of this book. He’s passionate, he’s sexy, he’s smart, he’s a fabulous teacher who is great with his students (the classroom/teaching scenes in this book are completely fantastic), and in the moments when he allows himself to be happy with Nunzio, we see how free and alive he can be.

David: Such a complex character. I can’t wait to get to know him better in the next book. Michael refers to him as a “poor, confused baby gay,” and I think that’s him through most of this story. Trying to fit in at McCleary. Trying to work through his mixed attraction and hero-worship of Michael and Nunzio. And, making bad decisions and poorly-handling his current relationship. The author does a good job of keeping him just this side of endearing, while also using him as a source of conflict in the book – but, we don’t truly get to see David, I don’t think, until the brilliant rehab scene when he and Ray go to visit Michael. That scene showed his potential as a friend, and how he could be a positive in Michael’s life. Fabulous stuff.

This book is amazing. Go forth and 1-Click!! You’ll be so glad you did! And now, I’ll leave you with this final thought:

That cover, tho…

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Lisa’s Review: This book… I have no idea how to express how much I love this book. Not loved. I’ve said, “I loved this book!” more times than I can count, but there is no past tense going on here. I am actively, right now, in love with this book in an obsessive way. Sutphin Boulevard is not a novel that ends at its final words. It’s a book that makes you want to read it over and over again, and I’ve read its final pivotal and epiphanous scene so many times I almost know it word for word now. That single scene is written so beautifully, is so subtly nuanced with need and emotion and hope, and resonates so deeply within the metaphor of Nunzio and the role he will play in Michael’s recovery from his addiction that I still can’t stop reading it even weeks later.

Sutphin Boulevard is so much more than a simple story of lifelong friends who fall in love. It’s a story of family dysfunction and all the ways in which the burden of becoming his father’s pawn and his adult brother’s keeper pushes Michael Rodriguez to the brink; then, eventually, sends him headlong over the edge into self-destruction. This is the story of a man who is connected so irrevocably to his best friend that his own emotional insight is obscured by the depth of intimacy they share, never imagining it as anything more than friendship. But most of all, this is the story of the crippling weight of problems Michael cannot solve, which leads him to the only solution he can live with, the one solution that could very well kill him. And, tear Nunzio Medici out of his life forever—which could very well produce the same result.

Santino Hassell has introduced subjects both simple and complex in Sutphin Boulevard and then penned a gorgeous novel around them, the story of one man hell bent on self-sabotage, and another whose love for that man is so profound that giving in to his feelings is the only option; giving up is his last—and unacceptable—resort. Hassell sketches an outline of Mikey and Nunzio at the outset of this novel in a blistering scene that would begin the altering of their friendship; then spends the rest of the word count shading and filling the story in, layer by layer, so we understand on a visceral level how deep their bond is, even as Michael is frustratingly unaware of all of Nunzio’s cues. Michael is our unreliable narrator when it comes to his and Nunzio’s relationship, and, in some ways, he is his own antihero while he is everything to everyone else—teacher, son, brother, mentor, friend… He’s so busy being everyone else’s someone that he forgets how to be the hero of his own life.

As the disease of addiction becomes Mikey’s self-fulfilling prophecy, and the only legacy his father left the one son who was supposed to fall far from that family tree, we are plunged along with him into the abyss created by alcoholism and drug abuse, watching while Michael begins to crave the abyss and the oblivion it provides, sinks deeper into the bottle where Nunzio can no longer reach him; nor is Nunzio’s love enough to light Mikey’s way through the darkness of his resentment and despair, his grief and anger, his need to escape his own life and the affliction it’s become.

Santino Hassell makes no clichés of his characters, nor does he shrink from the ugliness of Michael’s downward spiral. We watch as it affects his relationships, his job, and his interactions with David Butler, the man who could have become nothing more than a pastiche of every tedious and predictable stereotype we’ve seen in fiction, but in yet another show of finesse, David’s role extends beyond the predictable to the point that I loved him, much to my surprise; so much so that I’m at Defcon 1 maximum readiness for his book and the exploration of his friendship with Michael’s brother Raymond.

Sutphin Boulevard is a novel that explores the human condition at its best and worst: from hope to heartache, from wreckage to redemption, from family drama to relationship trauma, this story draws you in from the first to the last scenes. Its characters are real, and most of all, they are human, with the inherent frailties and faults that befall us all. Watching Michael’s personal life crumble even as he continues to mentor his students in the job he loves and was meant to do is a testament to the strength and wisdom he gifted to everyone but himself.

I’ll say here what I wanted to say in the first sentence of the first paragraph of this review. Read this book. Just…read it. Ironically, in the best possible way, it is itself deliciously addictive.

Buddy Signature

 

 

 

You can Pre-Order Sutphin Boulevard here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Welcome back for another look at what we have coming up for you in the week ahead. Thanks so much for stopping by!

We have some fantastic guests, blog tours, and giveaways coming up, as well as many more reviews in store.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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Monday – We’re kicking off the week with our first guest, Alex Beecroft, on the Blue Steel Chain Blog Tour

We’ll also have author Viki Lyn joining us today on her Woodland Village series Blog Tour

TuesdayChris T. Kat drops by today on the Breeding Stations Blog Tour

We’ll also have Havan Fellows stopping in on the Synchronous Seduction Blog Tour

WednesdayJ. Scott Coatsworth joins us on his Blog Tour for The Homecoming

We’ll also be hosting author Cardeno C. on the Johnnie Audiobook Tour

Thursday – Today we welcome author Katey Hawthorne on the GayRomLit Countdown Blog Tour

FridaySantino Hassell joins us today to chat about his new book Sutphin Boulevard

Saturday – Closing out the week, we have author RJ Scott with us on her Undercover Lover Tour

And we’ll also welcome author Varian Krylov with an excerpt and giveaway of her new novel Trasmundo

Dividers

And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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All Romance Ebooks, Santino Hassell, Self-Published

“After Midnight” Is A Dangerously Good Time



“Hope, which whispered from Pandora’s box after all the other plagues and sorrows had escaped, is the best and last of all things. Without it, there is only time.” – Ian Caldwell



Ah, the fictional antihero. He isn’t the strongest or the handsomest or the smartest man, but there is something about him that makes the reader love him for (or in spite of?) all his faults. We root for him, question his judgment, cringe at his mistakes, feel his pain. We want him to find the silver lining around the cloud of his existence and when it happens, we cheer for him because maybe he deserves it just a little bit more simply because he’s suffered just a little bit more. Gordon Frost is the newly minted antihero in Santino Hassell’s pulp-fictionesque post-World War III novel After Midnight, and I love him.

Continue reading

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Santino Hassell

Everything Good Happens “After Midnight” – Including Giveaways!



CoverProofFinalAfter Midnight by Santino Hassell

Gordon Frost is a survivor. He survived a war that ravaged the nation, and he made it through the orphanages and crime-ridden slums that followed. With few prospects for the future, Gordon carved out a niche for himself in the expanding drug trade of Lexington, PA. It’s not pretty, but it’s his, and it beats what he was doing before. But a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time results in a brush with death, going by the name of Adam. Afterward, the life that seemed good enough before, isn’t quite the same.

Adam Blake is an assassin on the brink of being terminated by the very organization that controls him. He completed his mission, but not without being seen. With his secrets in danger of being exposed by Gordon, Adam knows he should kill the smart-mouthed redhead, but finds himself intrigued by the troublesome civilian instead.

When Gordon’s knack for finding trouble combines with the dangerous consequences of Adam’s indecision, their worlds intertwine in an explosive way.


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After Midnight: Excerpt

“You know what I love?”

“No, but I’m sure you’re dying to tell me.”

“Oh, ha, funny. Anyway, I love to drink champagne while taking a bath. I feel so decadent and it always puts me in a better mood. You should try it sometime. You’d be less tense.”

Adam sneered as the absurd conversation played out in his ear. Marquis Delahunt was a fucking moron.

“Sure, I’ll get right on that. You think the liquor store on Post is keeping the Dom Pérignon behind the paper bags of Wild Irish Rose? I bet the bums are dying to get at that shit. Popping the bubbly over their garbage can bonfires and whatnot.”

Adam’s mouth twitched up.

“Why are you such a sarcastic bitch all the time, Gordon?”

“I’m not. You’re just extra vapid right now. Like dark matter. A weird, empty, non-substance. . .”

Adam rolled over onto his back and placed a hand on his bare abdomen. He didn’t fight the smile that crept onto his face. Bugging Gordon’s phone had been a practical step in Adam’s new career as a stalker, but it had other perks. Amusement was the primary bonus.

“Like your head,” Marquis retorted.

“Worst comeback in the history of comebacks, baby.”

“Oh, whatever.”

Adam could practically hear Marquis pouting. He rolled his eyes.

“Aw, I’m joking,” Gordon said, not sounding the least bit regretful. “I’m just in a bad mood. Everyone’s being a pain in the ass lately. I’m surprised you even called me. You were included on that list.”

“Moi? Why? I did nothing but be myself.”

Yes. That was the fucking problem.

“I guess. But my feelings get hurt easy. You know that.”

The sneer returned. Adam had a strong desire to backhand Gordon repeatedly until the fool saw the error of his ways, and realized that Marquis Delahunt was best placed at the bottom of a landfill somewhere. Adam had been keeping tabs on Gordon for almost three weeks and nearly every conversation he had with Marquis turned into an embarrassing display of easily manipulated retardation.

“Sounds like a personal problem,” Marquis replied. “But I have an easy fix.”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

The sound of Gordon’s animated voice dropping into that husky octave went straight to Adam’s dick.

“Phone sex.”

Adam’s fingers curled into a loose fist.

“Or,” Marquis continued, his voice a purr. “We can do it online so you can see me.”

No.

“No,” Gordon swallowed audibly. “Phone is fine.”


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About the Author:

Santino Hassell is the co-author of the popular epic series In the Company of Shadows and the newly released solo project After Midnight. When not writing, he works in education, is a single dad to two amazing kids, and can be found either reading, playing video games, or complaining about the failure of New York’s public transportation system.


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Author Links:

http://www.santinohassell.com

http://www.goodreads.com/santino_hassell.com


BUY LINKS:

Amazon
All Romance Ebooks
Smashwords

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The Giveaway:

We have an After Midnight swag package available for giveaway that includes a free copy of the ebook along with After Midnight branded mason jar glass, koozie, pens, mousepad, and matchbox.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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