REVIEW BY: Christie
TITLE: Sunset Park
SERIES: Five Boroughs #2
AUTHOR: Santino Hassell
NARRATOR: Michael Ferraiuolo
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 8h 7m
RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2016
Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.
David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way – he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens – but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation, since Raymond has always kept his bi-curious side a secret.
Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence, he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.
So, Sunset Park was an alright listen. It wasn’t great, but it also wasn’t bad either. It was a bit better than “meh”, but not as good as “ooh, I like it”. Don’t get me wrong, Santino Hassell did a good job writing this book, and Michael Ferraiuolo did a great job narrating. There were simply more detractors than attractors for me in this book.
Raymond and his brother Michael live in the house they grew up in, after inheriting it from their mother years ago. Now that Michael has found the love of his life, he has decided to move in with the boyfriend then selfishly rent out the house instead of let Raymond still live there (even tho his name is on the house along with his brother’s). So, Raymond is pretty much kicked out of the house, and won’t even be given a share of the money coming in from bringing on renters.
Ray recently lost his job, and spends most of his time smoking pot and playing video games. But, now he has to try and get his act together a bit by getting a new job, finding a new place to live, and hopefully getting a roommate to help split household bills. Pretty tough challenge for the closeted bi-curious Raymond who up until now has shirked most responsibilities and being a contributing member of society. The good thing is that his friend David was looking at moving from his apartment because the lease is up, and offers to room with Raymond.
David is basically the complete opposite of Raymond. Where Ray is a tall, dark, Puerto Rican with muscles for days, bad attitude, and a secret attraction to both men and women, David is short, super thin, white, and ash blond (also quite flamboyantly gay). Shortly after moving in together, Ray confesses to being “bi-curious”, to which David offers to let Raymond experiment on him. So, after a tentative kiss turns hot and heavy in seconds, things progress exponentially from there in the following weeks, and feelings start to grow between the two. But, so does the tension.
Add to their budding relationship Michael and his boyfriend Nunzio (who happens to be close friends with Raymond), Caleb (David’s ex boyfriend – who wants him back), Oliver (a friend of David’s who aggressively tries to sleep with Raymond), and a ton of miscommunication, and you have one cluster of a situation.
Everyone in this story is selfish beyond belief, and at times very disrespectful of the others around them. Some of the situations feel very manufactured and only there to cause more strife in an already chaotic situation. The sex scenes are pretty steamy and well written, mind you. But I found my mind wandering more often than not while trying to listen. And, before you say that it was wandering because audiobooks are not entertaining enough, let me stop you. I am a huge audiobook addict. This year alone I have added and listened to 140 audio titles in my audible library (I have 521 books in total so far).
Not to mention that I got a big kick out of listening to Michael Ferraiuolo narrate this audiobook. With having to affect a Brooklyn accent for Raymond and Michael, it was like listening to Mike Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High trying to scalp tickets to little kids. Honestly, his narration was basically the only thing keeping me from getting too bored with Sunset Park.
This is book 2 in the Five Boroughs series by Santino Hassell. While it certainly can be read (or listened to) as a standalone without having previously read book 1 (Sutphin Boulevard), I have a feeling that there was a lot I missed out on from not checking out the first book beforehand.
Would I listen to this book again? Sure, if I’ve run out of other books to listen (or re-listen) to. Would I recommend this book to anyone? I don’t see why not. If anyone is looking for a slightly angsty, opposites attract book, sure. Will I read or listen to book 1 in the series? Hmm… I’m more likely to read Taken By the Haunted HDMI Cable first (no seriously, that’s actually a story). So,there you have it. It was alright. Not impressive, but not awful either. Just middle of the road.