Book Review: Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell


Title: Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs #1)
Author: @SantinoHassell
Reviewer: Grace
Genre: M/M Romance
Length: 264 pages
Rating: 4.25 stars


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 twenty years. 

Grace Review

Gritty, sexy, emotional.  This author takes you on a ride with the main character’s downward spiral, where tough love and easy love both harm and save him.

I’ve read a number of M/M stories, but this was the first one written by a male.  Going in, I had to wonder if it would be different than those written by female authors.  While not knocking those books, which I do love, I did feel this story to be more authentic.  I think that the books I’ve read previously, overly romanticized the relationship between the two males.  This story features two gay males.  One male, Nunzio, who already came out with his family, with not so good reactions.  The other male being the narrator, Michael, who kept things on the down low with his family, although embracing his sexuality around his friends.

One night out with his BFF, Nunzio, turned into a threesome that changed everything.  Suddenly, both Michael and Nunzio are feeling a sexual connection never acted on before.  But make no mistake, they act on it, and SWEET BABY JESUS, it is H-O-T!!!

“Rail this motherfucker while I jerk off on you.”

With this new connection, you’d thing this story would explore the changes the two BFFs make in their relationship.  That doesn’t happen.  Slowly, Michael’s family destroys every bit of his happiness.  Admittedly, a lot of that destruction is self-sabotage as Michael clearly has a hard time dealing with his father and his health situation.  Thus begins the downward spiral.

Nunzio offers everything to Michael.  He lets Michael take control and set the rules.  Those rules are a bit off given their BFF status.  Michael seems to think adding sex only, with no feelings, is the right thing to do. Silly boy.  I felt bad for Nunzio, it’s so obvious that he had to guard himself with Michael and that hurts down the road.

Complicating things is David.  This was the third guy in their threesome, and he just happens to be one of the new teachers working at their school (to be clear, Michael and Nunzio are also teachers). There’s some type of connection there between Michael and him, however, Michael yo-yo’s between flirty and antagonistic with him.  I was worried that Michael would act out on those urges.  But David’s relationship status seemed to be the deciding factor.  That gave me mixed feelings.  I wanted Michael to commit to Nunzio, and felt a little desperate for their moments together.  What moments they share, like the threesome are seriously hot.  I may have had to pull out some M/M porn while reading this book.

He threw off pheramones like a beast.  His lust was so intense I could practically smell it, and my own dick stiffened in response.

While I would have liked a deeper look into Michael and Nunzio’s relationship, this book is more angsty as Michael’s world collapses.  He is not only lucky to have people like Nunzio, David, and his brother, Raymond, have his back, he’s lucky he got so many chances with his job.  There are many instance that made me cringe and fear he would ruin more.

The issue wasn’t admitting I had a problem.  I was very much aware of that.  The real issue was whether or not I wanted to stop.

How low Michael falls, and how he comes back up from that depth of depression, surprised me.  Even more, was who steps up big time to help him.  Knowing now who book two is about, I’m eager to start their story soon.  This book has given me a new author who nails the urban and diverse lifestyle of his characters, with plenty of heat and tension to drive my interest.

– Grace



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