Title: Concourse (Five Boroughs, #5)
Author: Santino Hassell
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Page Count: 366
Reviewed by: Renée
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
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.
Well, this isn’t gonna go over well. Unpopular opinion ahead.
I’ve never given Hassell less than 4 stars. I look forward to his writing like a freaking addict. I adore his writing style. I bask in the “realness” of the characters. Never let it be said that he writes corny, unrealistic people like a lot of other romance writers.
Now don’t throw anything at me.
Ok, seriously, I’m not running, but hold back on the digs, my GR people!
If you happened to read my review for Hard Wired, you saw that I’m not a big fan of exhausting, high-maintenance people who can’t get out of their own way.
Now, Hassell is true to his mantra of writing flawed characters, and that’s one of the things I love most about him. Even Ian, and now Ashton and Val, are so real, so fleshed out that we probably know a few, if not many, just like them. But would I fall in love with people like this?
There’s nothing wrong with them. It’s a taste thing. A completely personal preference. I grew to completely understand Ashton and Val’s motivations, grew to be somewhat invested in their story. But, as a reader, the magic happens when I am totally connected to the MCs, and I come to truly like them, if not love them.
Neither happened with Ashton and Val for me. These two were exhausting. There was no justifiable reason (imo) for half the crap they put each other, and themselves, through. Other than they are just immature and dramatic, and can’t get out of their own way.
And, dammit, that really sucked for me. As a Hassell fanatic, I am supremely bummed. As always, the writing was stellar, phenomenal, and all the other words we use to describe his talent. But Ashton and Val –
They did in the end, of course. There was a lot to love about this story. What Ashton eventually got involved in, instead of Instagram, was amazing. I loved that! And I love that Val finally got out of his own way, got rid of his ridiculous pride, and found his way to doing something that made him happy.
The friends-to-lovers part was done well, too. The delicious UST and does-he-have feelings-for-me was a joy to read.
So there it is. I’m gonna curl up in the box of shame now.