DGR Favorite & Review: First and First by @SantinoHassell

First and First-ReviewFIRST AND FIRST
Series: Five Boroughs
Genre: MM Romance
Author: Santino Hasell
Release Date: April 18, 2016add-to-goodreads-button-2


A Five Boroughs Story

Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reign 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.

This story can be read as a standalone and ends with a HEA

Oliver, please.”
“That’s right. Beg for it. I knew you would.”

In the life of a picky reader, a 5 star book starts to become as elusive as a polka dotted unicorn pooping rainbows. Every book seems to sort of blend into the next. Nothing is truly memorable or strikes a cord with me. Basically, I got myself in one hell of a rut is what I’m trying to tell you here. That is…until this book. This amazingly well written, erotic, and simply raw book. I’m blown away. Truly blown away. But mostly? I’m kicking myself for not reading this sooner and discovering the true brilliance that is this author. Because let me tell you MM fans, if this author’s work isn’t on your TBR, you’re seriously missing out.

Anchored to nothing, too afraid to take a chance. Lost and not quite fitting anywhere- even the places we wanted to be

And yes, OCD squad, I DID in fact start this series with book 3. And you know what?
Because I was enthralled with these characters from the very first chapter. Oli and Caleb’s story isn’t perfect. It isn’t gratuitous sex between two perfectly chiseled men with not a physical flaw in sight. They felt so real to me, like people I can be walking next to on the street and not even realize it. They’re not perfect, they have their emotional scars and flaws, but yet you love them for it. You connect with them. You feel with them.

The book is told entirely in Caleb’s POV and while you see things only through his eyes, the character development for every other character is so amazing, you feel like you’re living under their skin. But enough about my fangirling over the writing, let’s move on to the review, shall we?

Caleb may have grown up with all the luxuries that the Stone name and money provided him, but none of it meant much when it also forced him to hide who he is. Now in his 30s and still living inside his shell and uncomfortable with his desires, Caleb struggles in his relationships, unable to really put down his walls and go after what he wants. Oliver is his exact opposite; a free spirit that owns his sexuality and not afraid to test limits with it. And yet together, they’re like missing puzzle pieces.

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.

I loved everything about their romance; the raw sexuality, the realness, the slow burn and the tension. It wasn’t your typical, wrapped in a perfect little bow sort of story. But it was perfect nonetheless.

Santino Hassel introduces you to a world that’s hard to leave even once you finish the book. You find yourself thinking about these characters long after reading the final page. You crave more and yet you’re also surprisingly satisfied with how it ends. I’m not sure how this incredibly talented author had flown under my radar up until now, but I will be rectifying my mistake by reading his entire backlist and all future releases to come. I recommend this book to any MM fans out there. Seriously. This is an absolute must read. If you don’t fall in love with these characters when you read it, then we’re simply not reading the same book.



Sutphin Boulevard | Sunset Park

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