Reviewed by Cinnamon and Jen B
SERIES: Five Boroughs Book 5
AUTHOR: Santino Hassell
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 366 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2017
Ashton Townsend is the most famous celebutante of Manhattan’s glitterati. The black sheep of his wealthy family, he’s known for his club appearances, Instagram account, and sex tape. Most people can’t imagine him wanting for anything, but Ashton yearns for friendship, respect, and the love of his best friend–amateur boxer Valdrin Leka.
Val’s relationship with Ashton is complicated. As the son of Ashton’s beloved nanny, Val has always bounced between resenting Ashton and regarding him as his best friend. And then there’s the sexual attraction between them that Val tries so hard to ignore.
When Ashton flees his glitzy lifestyle, he finds refuge with Val in the Bronx. Between Val’s training for an upcoming fight and dodging paparazzi, they succumb to their need for each other. But before they can figure out what it all means–and what they want to do about it–the world drags them out of their haven, revealing a secret Val has kept for years. Now, Ashton has to decide whether to once again envelop himself in his party boy persona, or to trust in the only man who’s ever seen the real him.
Concourse is the fifth book in the Five Boroughs series, and unlike the last book, this can be read and enjoyed as a standalone. If this is your first book in the series, I recommend you going back to the other books after you finish it. They are just so good. If you love this series the way I do, the answer is YES. You guessed it right. Santino Hassell did it again. Each book is different, each couple is unique and each story introduces us to some amazing characters who are complex, flawed and real and are from all walks of life. Our MCs here are no different.
Ashton Townsend was introduced to us in the previous book and has a few appearances in Interborogh. We know he is filthy rich, he is an ex-model and an Instagram celebrity with some four million followers and a leaked sex tape. His life long best friend is Valdrin Leka, who lives in the Bronx, works two jobs and is a boxer getting ready for an important tournament. The story basically tells us how these two guys finally face their true feelings for each other and how they try to overcome serious obstacles created by lies and secrets.
This story started out slow and it took me a while to get into it, a bit longer than it normally does, but the second half of the book blew me away the way this author always does. By then I was wondering that all the slow and awkward pace of the first part of the story was written like that on purpose. Written in a way to keep us, readers, in a confused, insecure state, never knowing what emotion to expect, what reactions we get. Looking back I think it really was the writers intention and he did it brilliantly. I felt lost during the first half. I got the characters but just didn’t get the feels I was waiting for.
During sex Ashton and Val had the perfect harmony. They have some serious chemistry and amazing, sizzling scenes together.
Beside that the disharmony was palpable almost all the way. Because of the lingering secret and the frustration I felt unease until the breaking point. I was so happy when the truth came out… I knew the only way was up…
Having a secret can poison even the sweetest romance and we get the perfect taste of that truth.
Finding our way in life is never easy. Given some messed up family background and a few secrets, it might seem impossible. But there is always hope. There is always friends, and there is always good intentions. If we get those, everything is possible. I loved how all the details fell into their right places by the end. It was great to meet Nunzio again and I can’t wait to read the next story. Highly recommended.
JEN B’S REVIEW:
This was another fabulous story in the Five Boroughs world. It felt a bit different than the others, though not in a bad way. It could easily be read on its own, but I definitely recommend reading the entire series.
We met Ashton in the previous book as one of the friends and investors in Qfinder. He is a sweet soul who just wants to be loved and cared for, which he, unfortunately didn’t get from his rich family. He basically has two personalities – the one he shows the public which is all glitter, glam, partying and sex, and the one he shows only to a select few people. Valdrin, his best friend, is one of them.
Valdrin sort of grew up with Ashton. His mother was Ashton’s nanny, and the two became very close. As for the rest of the Townsends, there is little love lost between them and Valdrin, and even Ashton. They have always seen Ashton as an embarrassment, and Val and his mom were more of a family to Ashton than his own ever were.
Val has always been there for Ash, picking up the pieces and having his heart broke time and again when Ash gets into trouble or flaunts his sexcapades for the world to see. But he doesn’t believe he has a chance with Ash, so he tries to distance himself, only to be pulled back in when Ash needs him again. Val is also demisexual. He has little interest in sexual relationships, unless he has emotional connections with someone. That, and the focus he has had on becoming a pro boxer, coupled with working two plus jobs, has left little time for any connections. But, he has always felt one with Ash.
Needless to say, these guys have a lot of negatives in their way to happiness. Both are struggling with things they don’t enjoy about their lives, which is a bit heartbreaking at times. There are also secrets that had to come out involving Ash’s family and Val’s involvement, but it was a relief when everyone came clean about it all. After a bit of turmoil at the perceived betrayal, it was easy to see how much these two loved each other once they both give in at the same time and allowed themselves to be happy with each other.
Santino has a style that I’ve really enjoyed. It stands out to me, though I’m not totally sure why. But his stories have such a real feel to them, the characters seem like guys you’d meet walking the streets of New York, and the whole Five Boroughs world has given us many wonderful characters. It was fabulous seeing Nunzio again, and I really can’t wait to see where the story is headed next.
JEN B’S RATING: