This is not a review I’m looking forward to writing, because I’m going to fall into the minority and it makes me really sad. It’s not that I can’t see why so many people love Five Boroughs, because I really really do. It’s more about why it hasn’t worked for me specifically.
Santino Hassell is an exceptionally talented author. He has serious writing skills that kept me reading, finishing Sunset Park all in one day. In the beginning I loved the story. I loved how cute it was that tough Raymond let David cuddle him, and flirt with him. I thought their friendship was so unique, and I felt serious chemistry between them. My heart was full, and I was ready for this really intimate affectionate relationship. I was loving it.
Unfortunately that dynamic didn’t stay throughout the book. I know that the relationship was changing, and that would affect how they interacted, but it felt like more than that. The sweetness between them seemed to fall apart. I found myself getting more and more aggravated with the both of them. It wasn’t an angst that made sense to me, it was all so pointless, and I felt frustrated.
I think the biggest issue I had was with Raymond. This was sad for me, because in Sutphin Boulevard Raymond was one of the characters I was most interested in. I was looking forward to getting to know him even more. I wanted to be in his head. I was anticipating that it would be a darker perspective, and it was. I think my problem was when his conversations with David went from affectionately amused to hurtfully dismissive. David even called him out repeatedly, telling Ray how much it hurt, and yet it never clicked to Raymond. He never recognized how poorly he talked to, and treated, this man he was falling in love with. It made me like him less in the end.
I’m not trying to put all the blame on Raymond though, because I had my issues with David too. I can’t take the games. The constant back and forth, playing with people’s emotions, even if it wasn’t to be cruel. I believe it wasn’t to be mean, but the end result was still the same and I didn’t like reading it.
They treated each other badly.
Now, obviously there were things I did enjoy, since I read it so fast. Again, I love Santino’s Hassell’s writing style. I love the use of slang, and how current each book feels. He’s one of the best steamy romance authors I’ve ever read. (The Grindr scene, one of the sexiest ever!) I definitely have no intention of quitting him as an author, especially since I know he can write character issues without undue angst. I’m just not sure if Five Boroughs will be among my favorites. I hear that the next book is even heavier on the angst, and I have to say I’m worried.
Don’t hate me, Angie!