Title: First and First (Five Boroughs #3)
Author: Santino Hassell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 18, 2016
Page Count: 244
Reviewed by: Renée
Heat Level: 4.5 flame out of 5
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reigns, and “alternative lifestyles” are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he’s still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn’t know how… until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.
Oli is everything Caleb isn’t—risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year’s Eve, Caleb is smitten.
As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.
This book! Every time I read a new one in this series, it gets better! While Caleb and Oli aren’t my favorite couple of the series (that will always belong to Nunzio and Michael), this is my favorite book of the series thus far!
Hassell writes the freakin best character development in each of his stories, but he outdid himself with the relationship development in this one too! It was all about the buildup of Caleb and Oli. And that’s my favorite thing ever.
He always starts his stories with a bang, and this was no exception. I was instantly hooked. What started out at 8:30pm of “I’ll read a few chapters tonight” turned into finishing it at 2:30am when my alarm was set to go off at 5:30 for work. I couldn’t put it down!
There are so many highlights on my Kindle that I honestly lost count. And how does he make me like not one, but two MCs whom I hated in the previous story? He’s magic, that’s how. He has a writing gift that I can’t even begin to describe or capture appropriately in a review.
Oli is a serial dater or fuck buddy. He doesn’t do relationships.
“I’m not your Prince Charming. I’m a good fuck, but I’m not special. If that’s what you’re thinking, you need to get it out of your head now.”
Caleb is struggling with sex, unsure why he hasn’t been interested in most of his previous relationships. But he still craves a monogamous boyfriend at the end of the day.
…I was more into the fantasy of thrilling sex than the reality. No, that wasn’t even true. I wanted those things with a lover. Someone I could trust. Not any random and willing person.
This book is very heavy on the sex, but not in a gratuitous way at all. Oli and Caleb explore Caleb’s reluctance with letting go in the bedroom, and it’s all perfectly proportional to the tone of the book. I honestly wanted more. And because of the relationship buildup along with his usual perfect character development, this book is definitely lighter than the first 2 in the angst department. If you thought Michael’s story was too heavy, please jump into this book! You won’t be disappointed.
I loved everything about it. I can’t recommend it enough! Best of the series!
One, tiny, personal niggle that did not in ANY way deduct from my enjoyment: Hassell loves the word “legit.” It was used really often. I legit think every character in this book said it at least once.
Seriously though – one click this book as fast as you possibly can! And an epilogue, Santino! One day you’ll give me an epilogue!
“I want to know what I am to you.”
“You’re the guy I feel all of the feelings for.”