EXCERPT and REVIEW – CONCOURSE by SANTINO HASSELL
Santino Hasell is an Author we’ve been desperate to read for a while now after hearing some amazing feedback about his storytelling.
Well, we finally took the plunge this weekend and wow! Everything…and we mean….everything we’ve heard about this author’s work is the truth!
We hung off every word, wanting to stop time, go back and devour every book he’s written.
If you haven’t read any of Santino’s work or you’re thinking about picking up Concourse…do it..do it now!
Concourse is a standalone in the Five Boroughs Series.
About The Five Boroughs series::
New York City—home of soaring skyscrapers, concrete boulevards, and the hopes and dreams of millions. A city where opposites attract and romance is found in unlikely places. From the glittering penthouses of Manhattan to the blue collar neighborhoods of Queens, values get tested, cultures clash, and connections are made. Men of diverse backgrounds examine their lives, test their sexual boundaries, and seek success in an unforgiving urban landscape that moves fast and stops for no one. Despite the odds, there’s love to be found in the five boroughs as long as they’re willing to work for it.
Standalone in Series : MM Romance
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.
Purchase CONCOURSE below
Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
“I don’t care what happens tomorrow if you give me this one moment.”
It’s been said a good story doesn’t give up all its secrets at once, instead teasingly guiding us through intense feelings, a gamut of emotions, wickedly leaving our hearts in tatters or shouting triumphantly at the turn of a page. If that’s the case, then Santino Hassell told not just a good story, but an unforgettable story. Concourse felt honest and real and was told in a raw and captivating way.
“No matter how battered and bruised I get, I’ll keep fighting for you.”
Santino Hassell is an author we’ve been desperate to read for a long time, and now, we want to kick ourselves because experiencing Concourse, hanging on every word from this gifted and talented wordsmith has us desiring to pause life and devour every one of his books.
This stunningly beautiful and raw romance between could easily be described as a friends to lovers’ story but that would be oversimplifying the enormity of the impact Ashton and Valdrin had on us and the emotions their relationship elicited from us.
‘I could never stop thinking about Ashton, and I would never stop missing the quiet moments when it was just us and he was a devastatingly beautiful force of nature that had calmed just for me.’
Ashton Townsend, A-Town as he’s known to the millions of Instagram followers he titillates and enthrals every day with his wild partying, carefree updates – is, in public, the gregarious, outgoing, rich kid party boy who couldn’t be further from the real Ashton, the Ashton, Valdrin Leka knows as the sensitive beautiful man whose only want is to be loved and who Val feels a need to protect.
At first glance Ashton appeared to be exhausting and high maintenance. A spoiled rich kid continually leaning on Valdrin when his partying ways became too much or he needed rescuing. However, dig deeper beneath the Instagram persona, the manufactured lifestyle and we find a lost boy with a quirky wit, and he was a man who broke our hearts. The unfolding of Ashton’s story hit us hard.
‘I’d watched his heart break right in front of me before he’d stitched it together with the same thread he’d used to create his Instagram mask.’
Valdrin Leka is the hard ruggedness to Ashton’s androgynous softness. A boxer who holds resentment towards the Townsend family. Val’s mother was Nanny to the three Townsend boys whose demand on her time, came at a cost to Val and his sister Hana. Following his mother’s death, Val holds onto the bitterness and blame towards the Townsends, with the exception of Ashton, who has been his friend since childhood. Val too had a story to tell, and his words held our hearts in his very capable hands.
‘There were so many reasons Ashton was the person who took up the most space in my heart…’
We know from the outset there are secrets and feelings in Ashton and Valdren’s past, and we know Ashton has held feelings for Val since he was ten, never imagining the gruff, working class boxer felt the same. As the story unfolds and secrets and feelings come to light, we witness the complexity that is the friendship between these two lost souls. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, powerful and hopeful.
“I like it when you’re my Ashton and not the other guy.”
Santino Hassell expertly and mesmerizingly captured the intensity of emotions between these two men, painting the grittiness of Val’s surroundings to perfection, taking us into the chaos and scrutiny of Ashton’s public life and wilfully capturing the soulfulness and longing of this beautiful man and the pain and loneliness of Val. The passion was all consuming with nothing in Santino Hassell’s portrayal feeling contrite. An absolute winner from an author who will -from now on- be an automatic 1Click for us both.
“I think I’m in love with you. And I don’t know what to do.”
“I don’t know what to do either. No one has loved me before.”
EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT from CONCOURSE
There were so many reasons Ashton was the person who took up the most space in my heart, and none of them had to do with the fact that he was good in bed. And that line of thought was exactly why, or part of the reason why, I’d tried for so long to discourage his flirtation. And the attraction between us.
Even as teens, I could still remember those times when he’d coax me into “practicing,” and I’d pretended to be reluctant and annoyed, even grossed out, while digging my fingers into the couch or the bed to keep them from sliding up his face and into his hair. I hadn’t wanted him to know he wound me up, or that I fantasized about him. That I’d been so infatuated with him.
“I want to go home,” he said.
Ashton shrugged. “I don’t want to hear any lectures on my bad life choices. I’m tired, and you’re confusing me, and I just don’t . . . need anything else to make me feel bad about myself. I already feel like an ass for going back on my own promise to myself and going to meet Brett at the bar.”
I sat up straight. “Did he do anything or say anything to you?”
“Not anything surprising,” he said bitterly. “But the gossip columns will have a field day tomorrow.”
Between Brett pinning Ashton against a wall, and me swooping in like some poorly dressed white knight, there would likely be a circus of theories about what had gone down.
“I won’t lecture you about the TTC thing right now,” I said after a moment of watching his tense face. “I swear I wasn’t thinking about that.”
“Then what were you thinking about?”
“About us as kids. The way I’d pretended to not like kissing you even though I’d loved it.”
Ashton laughed softly. “‘Loved it’ is probably hyperbole.”
“No, it’s not. Even after we’d stopped, as we got older, I’d think about it.”
“Well, that’s a shame.” His eyes rose to fix on mine, confident and almost challenging in their directness. “I’m a lot more skilled now than I was back then.”
My breath caught. “I bet.” I swallowed hard. “I used to wonder about it.”
“You didn’t have to wonder. You could have just kissed me.” The challenge in those light eyes grew. “You could do it now.”
It was a bad idea, just like admitting all of this to him had been a bad idea. I should have known he wouldn’t leave it alone once I put it all out in the open. I should have known I’d have absolutely zero self-control if he was aware enough of my desire to act on it. Because that was Ashton—the person who went for what he wanted and spoke bluntly to make sure his desires weren’t misunderstood. And right now, he wanted me.
THE FIVE BOROUGHS SERIES by SANTINO HASSELL
Sutphin Boulevard – Standalone – Book One
Sunset Park – Standalone – Book Two
First and First – Standalone – Book Three
Interborough (Sequel to Sunset Park)- Book Four
Concourse – Standalone – Book Five
About the Author
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.
Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.
COMING 15th AUGUST! – ILLEGAL CONTACT
The first of a new series called The Barons by Santino Hassel
The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel.
New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.
Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…
ILLEGAL CONTACT (The Barons Book One) is available to pre order below