As I’ve stated a bazillion times, I have a few books coming out in the near future (6 in the next year and a half actually), but you might not know 5 out of 6 of those planned novels are in my new Five Boroughs series. The first of which—SUTPHIN BOULEVARD—was released on Friday. Keep in mind—all books can be read as standalones. Characters will pop up all over the series but you don’t need to read them in a particular order if you don’t want to, and each couple gets a happy ending by the end of their book.
I’ve had a semi rough release weekend (broke my phone, argued with family, screamed at disappearing GR ratings before being reassured they will return, agonized over promo and wondering how to accrue Amazon reviews—hey this is Real Talk w/ Santino), but the reviews rolling in are… fucking phenomenal. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“The chemistry between these two fairly sizzles the pages. This book is sexy. The love scenes are dirty in all the best ways.” — Fiction Vixen
“This book and these characters offer a gritty and realistic view of life while offering a complex and multi-layered story of true friends that become lovers.” — Joyfully Jay Reviews
“Hassell’s storytelling is raw and gritty, but utterly perfect. It’s been a while since I had a book hangover of this magnitude, but it’s here in full force.” — JesseWave
“It’s a book that makes you want to read it over and over again, and I’ve read its final pivotal and epiphanous scene so many times I almost know it word for word now.” — The Novel Approach Reviews
“I couldn’t be happier with this book. Though it’s written in first person in Michael’s point of view, Santino Hassell writes it in a way that lets you see all that Michael is blind to.” — LoveBytes
“This book is special, in an extraordinary, I’m kind of in awe of how special it is way. I was totally captivated by Santino Hassell’s voice, and no nonsense writing style, wow, the man really is such an incredibly talented author, and I’m excited by his potential and of what’s to come in the future.” — Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews
“I love Santino’s style of writing, which is definitely not slushy, or overtly romantic, he expresses emotion in a very visceral way, which stays with you a long time.” — Prism Book Alliance
I am utterly thrilled by the response. It’s a personal book (in a purely thematic sense), and one that was difficult to write for various reasons, so reading these reviews has been amazing.
In case you missed it, I wrote a blog post on casual sex over at The Novel Approach, did a really interesting interview at JesseWave, and I also talked about inspiration and future plans over on the Dreamspinner FB page! I did a post on STYGIAN (my October release) with inspiration photos and I also talked a bit about the YA short story (and potential series) that spawned McCleary High School–the school some of the characters in SUTPHIN BOULEVARD work at. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be talking about this book and this series. I love the characters and I want you all to get to know them. I even love Michael’s students. I created an entire roster for his History class!
So, what IS the Five Boroughs series?
Well, the first book was initially inspired by elements from my own life—teacher drama, family issues, and of course a guy (that story will get told in another blog post 😉 ), but the idea grew as I wrote the draft of SUTPHIN BOULEVARD. I was infatuated with the main character’s friends and family, and I wanted to tell their stories too. From there it got bigger. I decided to make it a series that would pay homage to shows like Queer as Folk, The L Word, and Looking (in terms of the ensemble cast, interlocking storylines, and the big city setting) but with my own style.
So that’s what Five Boroughs is—adult romance novels about a diverse group of men (although I do have plans for a M/F and F/F at some point) trying to figure out life, forge relationships, and push their sexual boundaries in a city that moves fast and stops for no one. And what other city would I write about than New York?
One of my goals with Five Boroughs was to represent NYC in terms of how diverse it is. Racially, ethnically, age-wise, and all of those different subcultures that are crushed together every time a subway car opens and people come flooding in. FB will feature teachers, lawyers, hipster (or should I say… yuccie?) dancers, disgruntled hedge fund heirs, student loan-weary Millennials, and a couple of cops from Staten Island. They all have challenges to overcome and dreams they want to reach, and every one of them will find love even if they weren’t looking for it when their book started.
The characters have vastly different backgrounds but they’re all connected to each other (social media is major theme in this series). Book one is about a Puerto Rican teacher and his Italian-American best friend, and everything after that is like Six Degrees of Michael Rodriguez. David gets his book, so does Raymond, Charles, Drew, Caleb… they’ll all get their stories eventually and I hope you stick around to read about them!
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