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 20 years.
©2015 Santino Hassell (P)2015 Dreamspinner Press
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 "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.
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.
Come across this story online numerous times and I regret not having taking it up before! The story is engaging, sorry, funny, and at times frustrating, but in an endearing way. Topsfield's narration was perfect in my opinion. It wasn't a monotone speed reading that so many narrations on audible turn out to be. The pace was perfect. He distinguished perfectly between each character. I didn't feel like I was being read to by my granddad. On par with Charlie David in my opinion. here's hoping the rest of the series gets an audible narration keeping Topsfield's.
So I listened to this out of order, but as always. It was fabulous. The characters are easy to relate to, the story is conceivable and true.
I really struggled to finish this. Nothing good happens too anyone in this book until the last chapter. There is drug, alcohol, emotional, and physical abuse. It's too much too carry through the entire book. This book is a real downer and I do not recommend it!
I'm an unabashed fiction fan: mostly M/M, Romance, Erotica, Suspense, Thrillers, Action, NA/YA genres.
I really didn't like much about this story. Well, that's not really true - I liked the writing, I just didn't like the main character, Michael.
I don't know if it's because the story is entirely from Michael's POV and Michael is self indulgent, self absorbed, and obtuse.
Maybe because he treats a twenty year friendship with Nunzio, and frankly Nunzio himself, with such callow disregard.
Maybe because he doesn't seem to provide any guidance for his younger brother while simultaneously condemning him for his life choices.
His constant whining didn't help. The angst that seems, largely, to come out of no where, which led to a completely self-indulgent spiral, kind of threw me. I don't know. I have to be honest, by that point my sympathy had dried up for the character.
Do I empathize with his situations? Yes. Did I understand where much of his guilt and angst came from? Yes. Do I have any sympathy for it? Nope.
Anyway. If this was just about narration I'd give at least 3.5 Stars for it. The audio was good. Good enough to keep me interested in seeing where this train wreck went. Rusty Topsfield did what he could, but I wasn't feeling the story and that bled out to mar my enjoyment of his performance. Sorry, Rusty.
It's well written for all I want to give only 1 star for all the bullshit, but the narration deserves more. Also the sex was awesome, which was another reason I stuck it through.
I can't say if I'll continue with the series. Someone mentioned book two is largely the same, and I don't think I can go through all this again. We'll see.
I wish that the people in charge of choosing the narrators of audiobooks consider everything about the stories. Age of the main characters, ethnicity, regional and international dialects, etc. I've listened to many audio books narrated by Mr. Topsfield and consider him to be an okay choice for many books. But there have been some, this one in particular that leave much to be desired. The characters in Suthpin Boulevard are from Spanish, heavily ethnic NY neighborhoods. The accents are definitely not Hispanic nor Brooklynese. It took me out of the story and lessened my enjoyment. Choosing a narrator that has a command of dialects would increase the marketability and authenticity of the audio productions and could also make a mediocre book extraordinary. I did read this story and was really excited to hear it, only to be disappointed. Please consider this for future projects.
Compelling read. Hot and Also strong story particularly following family friendship trauma and addiction. Want to continue to follow the characters into the next one.
It’s hard to summarize this without giving too much away but…
Mikey and Nunzio have been friends forever. They have a shared threesome one night and cross the lines between friendship to sort-of lovers.
The problem is that Mikey isn’t in a good place. His mom just died and his abusive, alcoholic dad is back and causing problems and he just got dumped…He ends up having a lot of “self-improvement” issues that eclipse his ability to become the boyfriend Nunzio needs.
Eventually Mikey reaches a point of no return and he has some tough decisions to make. The question at the end is will Nunzio still be there for him when Mikey comes back to his own?
Santino Hassell is an excellent writer. His characters are REAL. His language is gritty and his sense of place is perfection. He immerses you in the heads and environment of his characters and you are deeply engaged in their lives.
This is a romance. Yes, but barely. But it’s more of Michael’s own “coming of age” story. We are in Mikey’s head throughout the entire story and we go through all his ups and downs and downs and downs and downs… As a result, besides the very, very hot sex that we see him share most of this is really about his growth.
That isn’t a bad thing.
However, as a romance reader, I really wanted more of the relationship stuff. I felt particularly cheated that the reconciliation and HEA portion of the book was literally the last few paragraphs.
Of course I was grateful that our boys got together and I enjoyed the struggle Mikey endured to get there and I feel hopeful that he and Nunzio will make it, but I wanted them together and happy for longer than a few sentences.
So… as a book I give this high marks, as a romance I detract some.
I was so skeptical! But…. Rust Topsfield did an AMAZING job with this. He’s got all these accents hidden in him… who knew?! He butchered some of the Spanish… but he got some of the Brooklyn accents down and as a form of entertainment – listening to this was aces! I thoroughly enjoyed it and have to say it’s the BEST way to appreciate this story.
Story 3.5 of 5 stars
Audio 5 of 5 stars
Overall 4 of 5 stars
I like gay lit. Many of the gay-themed books tend to be written pornos or maybe lack much depth. But this book is vastly different. I appreciate the authors look into a real character and providing him with real depth and emotion and problems. I also appreciated how the steamy sex scenes weren't only gratuitous but were also a plot mechanism.
I was captivated by Michael's decent and how real and plausible it all seemed. Kudos to the author for writing a gritty gay novel when those can seem in short supply. Also please check out book 2, Sunset Park. It's very good and picks up where this story leaves off.
I thought the narrator in book 2, Sunset Park was much better for the part, and because I accidentally listened to them out of order, I felt the narrator in this book was distracting and did some disservice to the characters. But overall, he did give proper weight to the importance each character had.
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