Title: Concourse (Five Boroughs #5)
Author: Santino Hassell
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: May 1st 2017
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 366 pages
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 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.
As Hassell has done continuously throughout the Five Boroughs series, he takes characters we think we know and sharpens the focus until we see them as they truly are … or have the potential to be. We met Ashton in First and First and Interborough: “He used to model and is now just semi-famous for being filthy rich and having a sex tape or two.” In Concourse, we meet the real Ashton, who knows
After all my family had done, the dismissing and the slut shaming and forcing me into modeling as a kid to “make use” of my appearance, I would still do anything to feel … like part of their family.
It’s honest-to-gawd heartbreaking how Ashton acts like he’s “only good for being someone’s fuck toy” and doesn’t realize, as Nunzio tells him, “You have value, kid. And you can make more of a difference than you know.” Seems the one person who truly knows Ashton is Valdrin but their relationship is thorny, to say the least. In a nutshell, I love and hate that we get Ashton and Val’s POV throughout – mostly because of the Big Secret Val agonizes about through most of the book, while Ashton worries about the way Val treats him, not knowing it’s because of the Big Secret. This is probably my biggest niggle with Concourse – the torturous reflection and reexamination was just …. exhausting.
Finally Val and Ash work their way to a happy ending, and while I’m still exhausted, I look forward to the next book in the Five Boroughs series. 4 stars.
I grabbed a handful of his hair and pulled him in for an out-of-breath kiss. I loved the feel of his lips and pounding heartbeat against my own after sex. I loved how he folded himself around me with contented sighs. I just fucking loved him.