Concourse by Santino Hassell

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Concourse: by Santino Hassell
Series: Five Boroughs #5
Release Date: May 1st, 2017
Pages: 366 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide
Purchase Links:
Riptide

Ashton Townsend is the most famous celebutante of Manhattan’s glitterati. The black sheep of his wealthy family, he’s known for his club appearances, Instagram account, and sex tape. Most people can’t imagine him wanting for anything, but Ashton yearns for friendship, respect, and the love of his best friend—amateur boxer Valdrin Leka.

Val’s relationship with Ashton is complicated. As the son of Ashton’s beloved nanny, Val has always bounced between resenting Ashton and regarding him as his best friend. And then there’s the sexual attraction between them that Val tries so hard to ignore.

When Ashton flees his glitzy lifestyle, he finds refuge with Val in the Bronx. Between Val’s training for an upcoming fight and dodging paparazzi, they succumb to their need for each other. But before they can figure out what it all means—and what they want to do about it—the world drags them out of their haven, revealing a secret Val has kept for years. Now, Ashton has to decide whether to once again envelop himself in his party-boy persona, or to trust in the only man who’s ever seen the real him.

three-stars

One big circle jerk.

It took me a long time to get into the story. I was bored. It went back and forth with them being idiots. It was a circle of useless things for me. I didn’t feel anything to either character. Wait let me not lie, Chris was involved and others from Ray’s crew. Can’t wait for there stories.

I stopped using the word Thirsty in high school so for me everyone being thirsty or salty was annoying. I’m pretty sure the dialogue from all 5 books will feature some semblance of the same two words.

We know I love Raymond Rodriguez, and I think I’ll pick up any book in the series to get a glimpse of him. That being said this was not it for me. It was the same formula of the previous books. You know I like Hassell realism in his writing, but I really do get tired of the same colloquialisms, backgrounds, and recycled plot drama.

The first half of the story bored me to tears. I liked Ashton in the previous story, but in this one he was a floundering fish. What’s up with all the guys having self esteem issues, and all their family being douche bags? Seriously no one had any supporting family to deal with. I feel like this book was super convoluted mess.

Val & Ashton are friends. They’ve grown up together not by status but more so my happenstance. I’m sitting here wondering why Val could want Ashton. Val seem disinterested in life. He didn’t show not one iota of happiness doing anything to me. I really wanted to know what got his motor going. I’m not just interested in his sexuality, because its his business but outside of that he didn’t seem to have any focus or love doing anything. Jeez, I would rather read Caleb’s book again and again.

Ashton was the typical Hassell character to me. The one who has all the different facades, whose life is really terrible. When its really not. I mean, was he so bored with life that he couldn’t see the passion in certain things he did? Ashton was left out to fend for himself by his family, but instead of using that anger & neglect to be a Boss he decided to just be. I personally wouldn’t do it. He was lifeless at times, and I don’t know if the author wanted him to come off like that, but he did.

Hassell did the one things, I didn’t think he’d ever do: Miscommunication Trope. What the f***? Why? You did not need to do it. Then after you do it, it was anticlimactic as such. Oh no, I take my previous findings about Val out. He showed passion at this point. During the big reveal. **Rolls Eyes**. I think had Ashton found out from Stoic Val then everything would have been copacetic.

I know it reads like I didn’t like anything, but there were some high points for me. I would like to see a different formula for this next book. I get what the series is suppose to be about, but it can’t be the same as the previous book. If so, then the steamy scenes needed to be on Oli & Caleb point. That hot of a scorcher. Oh and Nunzio. **Dreamy Sigh**, liked seeing him.

 

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About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

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.

Hard Wired by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Hard Wired: by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell
Series: Cyberlove #3
Release Date: February 13th, 2017
Pages: 260 • Format: eARC
Published By: Megtino Press
Purchase Links: Amazon

My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There’s a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life.

But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I’ve known online for years. And he’d known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends.

Now we’re back online, and he’s acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don’t plan to let him forget.

 

four-stars

 

This book should come with a strong warning that ANGST CENTRAL is coming straight ahead. I had no warning, and if I did I would have prepared myself big time for it. I’m not one for the angst, and can deal with it in small portions. Basically the gist of this rambling is to stay, I needed help and no one was there to hold me.

Now that it’s out of the way, whatever comparisons you are making towards the firs two in the series STOP IT. This book is way more darker, morose, sad, then the other two stories. I do feel like the formula of a broken home/childhood has been done in book one and two. I was hoping for something else. It works for the story, but I’m a little over it. I kinda wanted Ian to be somebody completely different, but I totally get Cerise is him 100%. I’m not going into a lot of detail plot wise, but Ian was a harder character for me to grasp more. I feel in love with Jesse right away. Sure he had his problems, minor that they were dealing with his parents. I guess for me, everything was out in the open with him. I didn’t have to guess or wade through his life as much as I did with Ian’s.

I truly love this duo writing team. I mean, Ilona Andrews is still my favorite, but they are #2 in my book. I always describe their writing as Hassell being the emo, hard living, hard life characters, and Erickson is always the optimism, easy going, kinda being effortless in love. They mesh well together, and it’s been like that since book 1. Not in the same way that I stated above, but its how I perceive their characters and writing style.

I will say their love story was exhausting at time. It felt very Carrie & Big-ish. Not a bad comparison, but we all know how that was. The main thing was Ian being scared to depart with his safety net. It’s something that he created at a young age, and stay with him. It’s his comfort, his first love, and something apart of him. Him letting Jesse in is a huge deal. He wants Jesse to accept him with flaws and all. It was a mental game, that Jesse didn’t even know how to participate in.  I really how Jesse dived heart first when it came to Ian. This was something extremely new to him, but he knew that Ian was someone he can be devoted to. Physically they were off the charts. I don’t think either of these character can write a bad sex scene. It’s just no way possible.

I overall enjoyed the story. Loved the new characters being introduced, and my heart was pumping when Garrett’s little dialogue was included. These authors write from such a passionate place that their work always shows the dedication and strength they put forth into writing these amazing stories. I liked that the epilogue was realistic enough to see them maintaining a relationship. Can’t wait for more in this series!

About Megan Erickson

Megan Erickson is a former journalist who switched to fiction when she decided she liked writing her own endings better. She likes to pretend she has control now, but usually her characters are the ones who hold the reins. Her romance novels have a touch of humor, a dash of nerdy, and always a happily ever after.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and two cats named after John Hughes characters. She’s still waiting for the party she was promised when she grew to five feet… maybe because she never got there.

About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

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.

Interborough, by Santino Hassell

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

tinoInterborough: by Santino Hassell
Series: Five Boroughs, #4
Release Date: October 24, 2016
Pages: 249 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide
Purchase Links:
Riptide

The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.

David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.

The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.

four-half-stars


Don’t even look Raymond’s way. I got this.

Listen up folks, when Sunset Park came out, I saw all the negative comments about the couple. I didn’t argue with anyone, everyone had a right to their own opinion. I’m okay with you not liking Rayvid together. Perfectly fine in my world. It takes alot of emotions for me to fall in love with a character. I literally will read their story a bajillion times throughout the year. My list is 5 guys. It’s never changed for the last 5 years maybe. It’s always Zsadist, Zane, Reyes, Vadim, and Cole. It’s been these 5 forever. When I read Sunset Park, Raymond literally crawled under my skin. He imprinted on my soul. That’s the only honest way to describe the feeling I get when I talk about Ray and read about him. I have to tip my hat to Santino Hassell. The man can write. It’s beautifully flawed. His story telling, his realism, and his emotions are so powerful that you can do nothing but show the man some damn respect. It’s only a handful of authors who can read series and all be high 4 and 5’s. It’s not easy and you might get bored with the same story just regurgitated. I’ve had this book for a while, and it took everything in me not to crack it open. I wanted it to be fresh for release day, and get to openly discuss with my peers all the growth we see in these characters.

It’s been almost 2 years since David and Ray got together. There’s been growth that we can see on page for both guys. I loved Ray’s transition to being “an adult”. He went from everyone providing for him to holding down two jobs and going to school. I loved seeing his passion about being his own man. David is still there, going through the motions with his career that left him feeling uncertain. I really like David. He’s someone who lives in his head, and I know plenty of people like that. David needs constant reassurance about their relationship. I actually felt David was right. He had plenty of reasons for why he felt the way he did. The biggest problem in their relationship was the lack of communication. It’s authentic. Sure having sex feels good for that moment of time, and afterwards but you problems come back big time. I feel like the stress of life got to these two.

Hassell wrote a book that everyone should be able to relate to. Hell I had these problems in the beginning of my relationship. Going to school and work, leaves your love life feeling destitute. I really enjoyed seeing all the different cast of characters. Loved seeing more of Ray’s friends, and even Michael and Nunzio. This was an appropriate representation of a relationship in the real world for me. Can I say it was perfect? No. I wanted to throttle both of them on numerous times, was I happy with the outcome? Yes!! Did I cry? Fuck yes. Was it another baby makers? Check back with me in 9 months for certain.

All in all, I truly loved this book. It’s possible my love for Raymond overlooks everything. I can see myself re-reading it that’s for damn sure. I had some good times with this crew, and how about that epilogue? Oh my goodness, I definitely cried. It was amazing. I highly recommend this series. I think you’ll find yourself enraptured by these characters from book 1 up until now.

About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

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.

Fast Connection by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

fast connectionFast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Series: Cyberlove, Book Two
Release Date: July 11, 2016
Pages: 235 • Format: eARC
Published By: Megtino Press
Purchase Links:
Amazon KoboB&N iBooks  ARe

After a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic ‘Nicky’ Costigan–the skirt-chasing player. They don’t know I’ve been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys.

When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it’s for one-night only. That’s fine with me, because I’m down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn’t take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again.

He’s got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he’s as addicted to me as I am to him. He can’t resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke’s rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated.

*FAST CONNECTION is a standalone, full-length romance novel with no cliffhanger*

five-stars

Honestly, Erickson & Hassell should be around hear screaming….

This book was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I loved every second of it. I read it in one sitting. Then I waited a couple of days later to read it again! Man, look it’s super hard for me to top my love from Strong Signal. FFS, I own it in paperback and e-book form. I live for Garrett’s grumpy ass and red panda gifs highlight my day. How were they going to top it? Well for starters they were going to take the asshat from Strong Signal and make him the love interest?

Huh??? Why?? Not only do they take Costigan and make him the lead, but then they make him the filty mouth, vulnerable douche bag who you love. GAH!!!! I loved him in this book. He’s coming to terms with his sexuality, while trying to find some footing in his life. His home life sucks big time. It’s an crazy amount of tension, and after so many years in the military he’s working at a Deli. No that’s not good enough for Costigan. Hell it wasn’t good enough for me. Enters grindr, and then Silver Fox.

Good Lord, the man is so hot. Them together were scorching up the place. Yeah it’s official these two know how to write a scene and pull you under.

Luke is a total DILF!!! If I was single and he was real, we’ll be together somehow. Luke is on the cusp of 40 with two teenage kids, and an ex-wife. He doesn’t want a relationship, he just wants sex. What I loved about his character was that he was such a hard ass. Constantly keeping Costigan away but needing him so much more. I loved to see the internal struggle on realizing that Dominic is what he wants. I think the authors did a fabulous job with the plot. I loved how both guys how their own obligations to their families, but knew how to get what they want. I wish I could spoil everything for you, but I won’t. I really enjoyed this book. I can’t praise it enough. I most likely will read it again before the week is over.

Erickson & Hassell should feel like this…

About Megan Erickson

Megan Erickson is a former journalist who switched to fiction when she decided she liked writing her own endings better. She likes to pretend she has control now, but usually her characters are the ones who hold the reins. Her romance novels have a touch of humor, a dash of nerdy, and always a happily ever after.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and two cats named after John Hughes characters. She’s still waiting for the party she was promised when she grew to five feet… maybe because she never got there.

About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

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.

Release Day Blitz – Fast Connection by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

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fast connectionFast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Series: Cyberlove, Book Two
Release Date: July 11, 2016
Pages: 235 • Format: eARC
Published By: Megtino Press
Purchase Links:
Amazon •  KoboB&NiBooks  ARe

After a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic ‘Nicky’ Costigan–the skirt-chasing player. They don’t know I’ve been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys.

When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it’s for one-night only. That’s fine with me, because I’m down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn’t take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again.

He’s got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he’s as addicted to me as I am to him. He can’t resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke’s rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated.

*FAST CONNECTION is a standalone, full-length romance novel with no cliffhanger*



IMG_1937

About Megan Erickson

Megan Erickson is a former journalist who switched to fiction when she decided she liked writing her own endings better. She likes to pretend she has control now, but usually her characters are the ones who hold the reins. Her romance novels have a touch of humor, a dash of nerdy, and always a happily ever after.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and two cats named after John Hughes characters. She’s still waiting for the party she was promised when she grew to five feet… maybe because she never got there.

About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

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.

Dual Review: First and First by Santino Hassell

We received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect our opinion of the book or the content of our review.

1st &1stFirst and First by Santino Hassell
Series: Five Boroughs
Release Date: April 18, 2016
Pages: 244 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
Dreamspinner Amazon ARe

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.

five-stars

Mika: “Warning: Santino Hassell books have the potential to help you conceive. Read his books with caution and a side of birth control if it’s not something you want!”

Ginger: HA! Mika knows what she is talking about!

So… book three in the Five Boroughs series is finally here, we finally get to be in the head of Caleb, get to understand how he ticks and what drew David to him and kept David going  back as his friend more times than most of thought he should and we get Oli… oh hell yes do we get Oli.

When we first met Caleb in Sutphin Boulevard via David I felt bad for him knowing David was screwing dudes behind his back. Then we got more of him in in Sunset Park and I needed to know his story because I adored the hell out of David and I knew that man wouldn’t keep helping and being available to someone who wasn’t worth it.

Mika: Not once in my mind did I think Caleb was going to be as interesting or likeable as he is. I mean in Sunset Park I literally wore my RBF face whenever he was mentioned. I disliked him, he seemed so arrogant and entitled and I couldn’t see why my sweet David was interested in him. He wasn’t someone I was interested in and I didn’t know how Santino was going to make up for his douchery in S.P. Well as usual I end up eating my words! This book lived up to all the potential that I thought and more.

Ginger: I totally agree about how we met Caleb, but then we got to the First and First and we meet Caleb, we get a chance to be inside his head and we know, we know the crap he has had to deal with, his family dynamics and at the borderline self-hatred he has for what he wants sexually and of course, the utterly sexy AF reaction he has when he finds that one person to let go with.

There were millions of people in this city and sometimes it helped for me to think in terms of the hundreds of thousands of people living in the five boroughs who felt like me. Anchored to nothing, too afraid to take a chance. Lost and not quite fitting anywhere—even the places we wanted to be. I felt less alone when I considered all of those other aimless souls. Maybe one day we’d find each other.

Mika: So different from the first two books in the series, but it can definitely stand on the same merits. He was able to take two guys from similar backgrounds and make them completely opposites in nature. Oliver is such an amazing character. I love his straight forward nature; love his care free personality and also his ownership of his sexuality. That means something to him based on how he grew up and what transpired from his teenage years to his adulthood. Caleb comes from the same privileged life style; where you are put on a pedestal and expected to live in your families’ footsteps. Caleb differs from Oli in a lot of ways. His internal monologue is so angsty. ARGH!!! It pained me to see him like this. I understand why. Look at his family, and all the weight that comes with his last name has denied him a sense of self. At 36, he lacks the sexual experience that is the norm maybe. You can see on page where his insecurities lie in. Reading this story his reservations seems to be based on his family, but when you get to the bottom of it a lot of it is Caleb. I don’t think he was ever was comfortable with himself.  That’s just my take on Caleb at least.

“Just be yourself.” Oli said easily. “Even if it’s the you that you’re normally too afraid to be.”

 Ginger: I’ll admit to having a rough start with this book and I couldn’t figure out why until I got further into it. I had major preconceived notions of Caleb’s character but was firmly sat on my ass by Hassell when he played Caleb at the other end of the table and shoved everything I thought I knew out the window. Caleb may me more complex than even Michael Rodriguez and possibly more tragic in ways just minus the tragic angst and addiction Mikey had. But Caleb, the dude owns my heart now and it’s not just about his looks (though the image of Ben Hill while reading this had me visiting the model’s IG account more than once) it’s about his tenacity for life, about his desire to do something that he can call his own despite what comes with his last name and it’s about everything he is, he does and how he feels for Oli.

I had no need to lie to Oli. He’d seen me turned inside out and torn apart by nothing more than his touch.

 Now, we need to talk about one Oliver Buckley and how much the idea of cataloging his back tattoo with my tongue is high on a list of fantasies I’ve gained from books. Oli and Caleb have so much in common and it’s not just about what they want to do with their dicks. It’s not only the fact that they come from money and have questionable relationships with it but they are alike with their morals, with their loyalty and with trust so it was only fitting as we get further into the story to realize, these two would be more than amazing together. Watching Oli slowly lose his armor piece by piece as Caleb discovers himself was amazing. Caleb totally disarmed Oli without even trying and it was heartbreaking to see these two fight against the one thing that they wanted as they tried so hard to pull it all in and hold it tight. I just adored the hell out of Oli and learning his back story as he spoon fed it to us was just… yeah, it was fantastic though painful. 

Mika: And with that growth we start to see both characters grow. It isn’t nice or easy. It’s long and emotional. Which I love!!! Santino writing is so effortlessly done! I mean this book seriously flows, I like the wave of emotions and I love the pacing of the story. I get to see Caleb become Caleb. Jeez he was so freaking hot, and remember my warning at the beginning of the story it was all because of Oli. Now look anyone who knows me; knows that I live for Raymond. All day every day, but Santino and his sex scenes deserve a compilation book all amongst themselves. He is so nasty, but so so good. I live for those moments, it leave you panting, and wanting, and just torturous to yourself if you aren’t able to read through them. Another kudos for him writing these sex scenes is because are not just wanted but are needed. These are some of the most erotic scenes that he has written, and man I can’t say anything without spoiling it. It’s an important evolution of these characters.

“You’re so sexy,” Oli panted. “And you don’t even know it, and that just makes me want to destroy you. Take you apart and fuck you until you’re trembling and begging and saying my name.”

Ginger: I have a thing for the underdog, for the character that you may strongly dislike when you first meet them but they grow on you and you need to know their story. Well, that was Caleb for me and I can’t seem to put into words how much his story blew me away. But blow me away it did and I’m still pretty stunned that book three in a series has me hooked, because series traditionally aren’t my jam. But seeing Caleb go from this the two-dimensional ex-boyfriend of David to this driving force of self exploration, expression and opportunity was gorgeous. To see the way this all bled from Caleb to Oli was a bit well… real talk? It was orgasmic.

Mika:  I get to see Caleb become Caleb. Jeez he was so freaking hot, and remember my warning at the beginning of the story it was all because of Oli. Now look anyone who knows me; knows that I live for Raymond. All day every day, but Santino and his sex scenes deserve a compilation book all amongst themselves. He is so nasty, but so so good. I live for those moments, it leave you panting, and wanting, and just torturous to yourself if you aren’t able to read through them. Another kudos for him writing these sex scenes is because are not just wanted but are needed. These are some of the most erotic scenes that he has written, and man I can’t say anything without spoiling it. It’s an important evolution of these characters.

Ginger: Goodness, the sex… I love that this had what I call the classic “Do what I tell you and just let me watch” sex scene that I have come to associate with Hassell’s books. It’s so damn sensual when we get them, they are so damn hot and so damn liberating that they are bookmarked, highlighted, notes made and possibly read more than once for, research. Yup, research. But the sex, though it’s sexy AF, I mean beyond the beyond, it’s another form of communication when it comes to Oli and Caleb, the bond is formed with their first sexual encounter and through the trust they place in one another, it allows them to finally tear down the walls to be together.

Somewhere along the line, that had become a thrill. I wanted someone to see. I wanted someone to know how badly we needed each other.

First and First, sure the title has a place in the story but I think it has a deeper meaning for me. Both Caleb and Oli have a number of firsts whether it’s what they experience together or apart and it’s how they bring it back to one another. It’s a story about the lines you draw, you draw in sand so you can drag your foot through them to be erased and let someone in. It’s all about taking that first step toward figuring it all out and the rest of the first that follow.


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About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

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.

Release Day Blitz – First & First by Santino Hassell

firstandfirst_promo3_v1

~Excerpt~


FF Graphic 6

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.” FF Graphic 5

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.

FF Graphic 7

 

~Giveaway~

Santino is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card. Enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Elegant young man in tuxedo looking down while sitting on a stool, on grey studio background.



 

 


FirstandFirstFS

First and First by Santino Hassell
Series: Five Boroughs
Release Date: April 18, 2016
Pages: 244 • Cover Artist: Ashley Kaye Hayes
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
Dreamspinner Amazon ARe

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.


 

About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

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.

Strong Signal: Giveaway and Q&A with Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

We,  at Oh My Shelves would like to give a warm Valentine’s Day welcome to authors Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell, who have co-written a fun, romantic and smoking hot story about finding love online and moving it into the realness of daily life.

They have gratuitously answered a few of our questions and are offering a wonderful prize for a giveaway. 

******

OMS: How did the two of you “meet” and how did the idea of the book come about?

Megan: I’m not sure exactly how we met. I think we started creeping into each other social circles. He’d read my books, then I read his, and I think we were fans of each other’s work first, which is a great foundation to have if you plan to co-write.

Santino: Wow, I actually don’t remember either. I know for sure it was after last year’s RT Convention, though. The idea for the book came about after Megan mentioned Twitch to me, which she’d been discussing with her husband. It went from her writing a book about female gamers who use Twitch, to me saying “well if you don’t, I will!” to us going “let’s do write it together!”

OMS:  Did you each write a character??? We think we may know who wrote whom but…

Megan: I mostly wrote Kai, and Santino mostly wrote Garrett, but we hopped into each character a lot. And the characterizations were definitely a collaboration.

Santino: Yeah, basically if there is a scene in Garrett POV I was writing both Kai and Garrett (and side characters), and she’d write Garrett if the scene was in Kai POV. It worked out really well, honestly.

OMS: The chat conversations felt so real between Garrett and Kai, they read as if we were online with a friend for the first time getting to know one another. Were those actual chats between the two of you doing a sort of role play as the characters?

Megan: Actually no, we didn’t converse back and forth writing those. I wrote some conversations and Santino wrote others. We’d often go in later and tweak word usage or reaction to fit the characters a bit better.

Santino: Role playing that is my worst nightmare. LOL. But, I think just the fact that we’re people who converse primarily via chat and who have made friends online really allowed for a sort of ease in demonstrating how people can connect.

Strong Signal teaser

OMS: With both MC’s being a level of introvert, the characters read as if you both got it, and not just from a research aspect so we’re curious, which of the characters do you identify with? Kai or Garrett?

Megan: I’m not an introvert. I think I’m more of an ambivert? I get really energized around people, and I enjoy being social, but then I need to hermit up for days afterward. I related to Kai in the sense that he could control his life online more than he could in the “real world.” He could shut off the computer when things got to be too much. His retreat skills are excellent.

Santino: I relate to Garrett in the sense that most people piss me off. They don’t make me uncomfortable, and I don’t have social anxiety, but I’m super grumpy and like my alone time. In other ways, I related to Kai in the way people sometimes latch onto me online or say inappropriate things without necessarily thinking of how Santino the Human Being may think or feel about it because they’re used to Santino the Author who CAN’T always react to certain things because my social media presence is part of my job.

OMS: The insecurity about meeting someone “live” after having a long, intimate online relationship was again, spot on. We’d like to think we wouldn’t react the way Kai did with the first physical meeting, but, you know? ☺ Has that happened to either of you and if so, what resulted when finally meeting face to face?

Megan: Well I first met my husband online. We talked for several months, and we became very close friends. When I finally met him in person, he would barely say three words to me. He was shy, and it’s kind of a head trip to now speak in person when you’ve spoken through a computer for so long. We used to message each other rather than meet in person until gradually we both thawed a little.

Santino: Well, most of my online meetings have stemmed from online dating sites or hookup apps. Yeah, I’m that guy. For the most part, those meetings are pretty straight forward if you catch my drift, although there have been occasions where I wound up befriending a person who was initially just supposed to be a hookup. The guy I’m hanging out with now is one of those people.

OMS:  Megan, how does the experience of co-writing compare to that of going at it solo now that you have done both?

Megan:Well I’m trying to write a book now by myself and I’m having a tough time, haha. I got so used to brainstorming with Santino, I’m so sad I have to do everything on my own again!

OMS: Santino, as you have co-written before with Ais, and the ICoS series, which do you prefer or how does having a co-author benefit or hinder your writing?

Santino: They’re both good experiences, but I think it’s a lot swifter to share characters like Megan and I did instead of writing in shifts/having to be in a Google Doc at the same time like I did with Ais. Whenever me and Ais work on ICoS again, I may suggest we try this out. And honestly, having a co-writer is GREAT. I get so much more work done.

OMS: The blurb for the next book in the Cyberlove series has us ridiculously excited and we can’t wait for that boy to fall head over heels for a guy! Is there a set number of books in the series or will it just continue if y’all have more ideas/stories?

Megan: There isn’t a set number at this time. We have maybe.. one or two more ideas? All around the idea of finding love online. If the ideas keep coming, who knows!

Santino: What she said. 🙂 There’s plenty of room for more and if people are interested, and make that known, we will definitely see what happens in the future.

 

We’d like to thank you both, so much for your time and for giving us a wonderful story. 

******

The authors are generously hosting a giveaway for a Kindle Fire.

Enter below.

 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Strong Signal CoverStrong Signal  by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Series: Cyberlove
Release Date: February 15, 2016
Pages: 212 • Format: eARC
Published By: Megtino Press
Purchase Links:
Amazon USAmazon UK • KoboB&N iBooks


 

About Megan Erickson

Megan Erickson is a former journalist who switched to fiction when she decided she liked writing her own endings better. She likes to pretend she has control now, but usually her characters are the ones who hold the reins. Her romance novels have a touch of humor, a dash of nerdy, and always a happily ever after.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and two cats named after John Hughes characters. She’s still waiting for the party she was promised when she grew to five feet… maybe because she never got there.

About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

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.

Strong Signal (Cyberlove #1) by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Strong Signal Cover

Strong Signal  by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Series: Cyberlove
Release Date: February 15, 2016
Pages: 212 • Format: eARC
Published By: Megtino Press
Purchase Links:
Amazon USAmazon UK • KoboB&N iBooks

I was counting down the months until the end of my deployment. My days were spent working on military vehicles, and I spent my nights playing video games that would distract me until I could leave Staff Sergeant Garrett Reid behind.
 
That was when I met him: Kai Bannon, a fellow gamer with a famous stream channel.
 
I never expected to become fixated on someone who’d initially been a rival. And I’d never expected someone who oozed charm to notice me—a guy known for his brutal honesty and scowl. I hadn’t planned for our online friendship to turn into something that kept me up at night—hours of chatting evolving into filthy webcam sessions.
 
But it did. And now I can’t stop thinking about him. In my mind, our real life meeting is perfect. We kiss, we fall into bed, and it’s love at first sight.
 
Except, like most things in my life, it doesn’t go as planned.
 
*Strong Signal is a standalone, full-length novel with no cliffhanger*

five-stars

Wow. This book kinda kicked my ginger butt. In a good way of course but I should have known that with this author pairing, I would get the fun but I would also get kicked in the nards of feels and boy did I ever.

Let me start by saying, this review will be emotional. So shocking coming from me, eh? But really, my emotions are on overdrive and this book hit really close to home for me in a few ways, some I’ll share but… yeah, you don’t need that much information from the over word usage reviewer. Amirite?

The saying about the tree? If a tree fell, and no one heard it, would it make a sound? I wondered that about myself sometimes, many times over the years. If I was gone, and I wasn’t missed, would I have lived? 

There is so much in this book that sums up a lot about me as an introvert while it accurately highlights the awesomeness of introverts as well as the isolation. Garret and Kai are both introverts, to their own degree and it was a pure pleasure to be among to characters that were so like myself.

How the boys meet was total perfection. Online relationships are my jam. They are the way I can communicate to others who are like me, who get me and who accept me for the oddball that I am. That Kai and Garrett met the way they did, that they formed an instant connection and fell hard for one another is not something of a fairy tale. That for me is real life.

What this book really gets is the relationships that can be formed online and not just romantic ones. While reading the early exchanges between Garrett and Kai it brought me back to the people I have met online and become close friends with. It made me smile thinking of our first emails where we bonded so quickly without walls, borders and the false pretense that can happen meeting face to face. Now, years later the online exchanges are such a comfort to read and have reatined that raw vulnerability that you get from being able to control your side of the situation. It also made me sad thinking of the online relationships I thought were special and sacred but turned out to be lies. It goes both ways with online interactions but this book, the authors obviously get the unique experience of meeting someone online and fostering the special relationship that forms.

But online, I can control my space. I can determine who comes in my space, and if it all becomes too much, I press the power button.

Kai… oh boy I got Kai on a deep level. I don’t think it’s quite understood that you can be introverted online tough you can have a side that seems outgoing, extroverted and secure to the masses, but inside… inside the person is so very different and while I haven’t reached the status Kai has with his degree of social anxiety I really got that being in control of your space is what’s important. Ugh. I mean, when I get time off from work, I forget to go outside of my house for days and it is fine with me. If I wasn’t married with sons, dogs and a job, I’d be so much like Kai and never leave my controlled comfort space. Kai’s anxiety over meeting Garrett… *whistles*, I felt that deep in my soul. You see, I’m good when I can control the situation online, like Kai is but meeting someone outside of that controlled setting where I can’t edit the hell out of myself… someone needs to get me a fan and paper bag so I can breathe… because doing that, even as a friend and feeling that vulnerable… it’s hard. Just really hard. So yeah, I get that.

Garrett, my dear grumbly, scruffy military man with a soft spot for smart assed gamers, how much do I love you? I got you too, dude with the way you grew up and how you had to take care of yourself at such a young age. I got it all down to your favorite “home cooked” meal that is pure crap but for me, though I don’t eat it anymore, would be Minute Rice and canned Cheddar Cheese soup. That right there is pure comfort food. When you grow up poor you find comfort in things you cling to of a happy time or times so yup, I got it.

The gaming was so much fun to read. I am not a full gamer myself but I have friends and my sons who are and this created a fun dialogue with my middle son about Twitch streams and online games. Thank goodness it was all ironed out over vegan smoothies with him and he showed me some of his favorite gamers on Twitch and the games he played. So um, well done authors for providing more chat time with my son.

ANYWAY.

You wanna know how I read this? I read this at work on my computer sitting at my desk surrounded by college students preparing for the spring semester. I read this with such focus and intent that I passed my lunch hour and forgot to eat and when I finally heated up said lunch, I barely touched it because I was so into the damn book. Seriously. This sucked me in and turned me out so fast and hard, I forgot to eat.

Now, I need to take a moment to gush about the cover? Lets’ just stare at it for a moment and think of that being a tangible man in our lives. Now that we’ve done that, *fans self* I love that the cover nailed the blend of the authors and nailed it hard. Natasha Snow combined the raw, gritty sexiness of Hassells work with the conventional marketability Erickson brings with her emotional sensuality. The cover IS the book and the cover, for me IS the authors and the cover IS hawt…AF! You know?

This was such an amazing book. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, I considered the possibility of dry humping stationary objects around my desk… kidding. Or not? The pairing of Erickson and Hassell was flawless. The writing flows effortlessly from the alternating POV’s and there simply is no way you cannot fall in love with Garrett and Kai. The gchats, skype, dogs/honey badgers, care packages, conversations from a hallway, alpha protectiveness and the lengths you go to for the person/people you love, yeah this book was so damn good.

But you know what is even better? The end and the small blurb for the next book. Good lord. I love it when authors can take a surface douche bag of a character and have me jonseing for their story. ACK! I need that boy to fall hard and fast and yeah. All that.

Okay, I am done. Rambling ginger out.

Just go read the book, mmm kay?

Thanks.

 

About Megan Erickson

Megan Erickson is a former journalist who switched to fiction when she decided she liked writing her own endings better. She likes to pretend she has control now, but usually her characters are the ones who hold the reins. Her romance novels have a touch of humor, a dash of nerdy, and always a happily ever after.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and two cats named after John Hughes characters. She’s still waiting for the party she was promised when she grew to five feet… maybe because she never got there.

About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

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.

Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs #1) by Santino Hassell

Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs #1) by  Santino HassellSeries: Five Boroughs #1
on 2015-07-31
Pages: 264
AmazonNarrator: Rusty Topsfield
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
A Five Boroughs Story 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. 
three-half-stars

I will have to give this one 3.5 stars. The writing was a four star but I had a hard time with the addiction and depression part.

Michael Rodriguez

Mikey
Michael “Mikey” Rodriguez drove me to drink several glasses of wine because his head was a dark and painful place to be. He was a broken character because life had dealt him a crummy hand not including his little brother Raymond and his best friend Nunzio Medici.

Nunzio Medici.

Nunzio
I felt so bad for Nunzio and kept waiting for Mikey to pick himself up and go. I honestly had a hard time appreciating the sex scenes because I felt Mikey was just hiding and would have a melt down shortly after sex. The author did a remarkable job humanizing Michael and Nunzio. Both were flawed characters, but they both felt much and tried hard to work with the hand they were dealt.

As for the rating, this is really a case of It’s me, not you because it was a well writing story featuring family, addiction, love and growth. I do think I will give Raymond’s book a go.

About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

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.

This entry was posted in Review.