Author: Santino Hassell
Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 8 hours and 7 minutes
At a Glance: Sunset Park is a richly drawn, well written story that is complemented by an extremely talented voice actor.
Reviewed By: Mike
Blurb: Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.
David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation, since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.
Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.
Review: This is book two in the Five Boroughs series: you do not have to have read book one to enjoy this standalone story.
Sunset Park is a richly drawn, well written story that is complemented by an extremely talented voice actor. The story is not a part two. It’s a romance, and roller coaster ride, and completely satisfying the whole way through.
Raymond Rodriguez is a charmer; he’s a ne’er do well, and totally, hopelessly unable to say the words that will change his shambles of a life into a partnership that will last his whole life long.
David Butler is a waspy, polite, flirty little thing, who works with Raymond’s brother as a teacher. He knows Raymond’s history of shirking responsibility, but he simply can’t resist teasing the sometimes dangerous and sometimes child-like Raymond.
Circumstances force Raymond to leave his childhood home, but with the full support of his out, gay brother, Michael, and his partner, Nunzio, Raymond finally has to do some growing up. A fact that only makes him all the more attractive to David. Raymond’s recent job loss, loss of home, and loss of direction has everyone he loves stepping in to finally drag Raymond into full adulthood.
Raymond has no problem with gay men because he has known his brother was gay since he was a child. The problem is, despite being totally comfortable with his brother, Raymond is fighting his attraction to men in general, and his new roommate David in particular. When the two finally come together, the results are combustible, stumbling, and infuriating. But as someone once wrote, “The course of true love never did run smooth.”
Both men are just a little too proud for their own good. Just a little too pre-judgmental and usually completely wrong about how the other will react. Just like real life. How those things and a few other obstacles, like a crappy job Raymond hates, reliance on illegal herbs, a short fuse, and David’s reappearing ex are resolved with such delicate turns the author keeps the satisfaction coming. Even though this is a book two, you get all of the history of book one told to you as needed, and without it being treated as a secret you need to have or as a tool to get you to buy book one. I would buy book one, though, to see where Michael and Nunzio developed their unbreakable bond.
Once again, Michael Ferraiuolo delivers a much above average reading of a book that keeps you enthralled the whole way through. He gets the words right, he gets the passion and the playfulness of the characters, and he gets the tension and the resolve of both men to find a way to be together. Sometimes you forget all of that is possible with the right narrator, and it is always a joy to find them.
I can’t recommend this story enough. The author, Santino Hassell, deserves most of the credit for that, but Michael Ferraiuolo adds a deep dimension to the book that totally complements the words. Buy this book—you will not be sorry.
You can buy Sunset Park here: