Published by Dreamspinner Press on July 31st 2015
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Sunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2), First and First (Five Boroughs, #3), Interborough (Five Boroughs, #4), Mature Content (Cyberlove, #4)
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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.
So I read the first three books in the Five Boroughs series earlier this year and really enjoyed them. For some reason, I haven’t reviewed any of them. I thought that it might be a good idea to dedicate the next three days to this awesome series, considering the fact that the fourth book is coming out on Monday. Then I’m going to share my thoughts on that book, Interborough, which I highly recommend! Without further ado, I hope you enjoy my thoughts on Michael and Nunzio’s love story.
This is probably the most difficult book in the series for me to rate. Sutphin Boulevard is extremely hot, but it’s also downright depressing at times. I had heard that Santino Hassell writes really gritty and complicated love stories going into this, it just turned out to be even more than I was initially expecting. If you don’t like a whole lot of angst and heavy real world problems, you might not enjoy this. But I do recommend it if you want to read something realistic and fascinating. Hassell doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and that’s what I most enjoyed and found difficult about his writing. If you want a unique M/M story that is far from fluffy and romantic, check this one out.
Michael was the character that I personally had a tough time with. He was pretty ignorant when it comes to Nunzio’s feelings for him, and my heart hurt for Nunzio at certain times in the story. Michael wasn’t a bad character by any means, I think the reason why I had issues with him was due to how downright real Hassell made him. He’s an imperfect person who has some really awful things happen to him, and this also leads to him discovering his addictions and deeper problems. A lot of this story deals with that awful down spiral and how he comes back from that. It was hard to read his voice during those times, but I do like that it was raw and real.
Nunzio is a character that I absolutely love. Hassell actually wrote the first chapter in the POV of Nunzio for Sinfully. It was just as amazing as I hoped that it would be. Anyway, Nunzio has been Michael’s best friend since they were young kids. The sexual tension between them has been there for a LONG time, but both of them (mostly Michael) have just ignored it completely. The reason why I like Nunzio is because he was such a wonderful friend and eventually boyfriend to Michael. He stood by him through absolutely everything that Michael went through. He was also a funny and charming character. It’s safe to say that I loved him and wanted more of his voice in this story!
The romance in this book was definitely complicated. Meaning, the romance side of Michael and Nunzio’s relationship actually isn’t the focus. It’s more about them being these close friends who end up discovering that they have chemistry. In other words, it takes them forever to realize that what’s between them is actually love. So the focus is on the friendship, but it’s also about Michael’s breakdown and how he gets better. That being said, there’s still some hot scenes. For example, the first chapter of the books is a threesome between Nunzio, Michael, and David (remember that name for my review tomorrow) and it’s easily one of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever read. It still would have been nice to see actual romance happen between them.
This was a book that was hard to read for me personally. At times, I found myself flipping through some of the pages when things got especially gritty and angsty. I just wanted something positive to happen to Nunzio and Michael. I did end up enjoying it because I feel like the story is very realistic. This author is absolutely amazing, and I now read everything that he writes. If you’ve never explored the M/M genre, I think that you should start with this series. It has excellent writing, serious romance, real plots, and fascinating characters. What more could you possibly want in a book?