Author: Santino Hassell
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 249 Pages
At a Glance: If you love your books full of angsty relationship issues and your gut checks delivered with a healthy dose of real life hurdles, Hassell delivers it all with a skilled hand.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.
David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.
The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.
Review: One of the great things about reading romantic fiction is that when the book ends, that’s where we readers all get to hang out forever—at the happy beginning. But happiness doesn’t always come easy, especially when the someone who makes you happier than anyone else in the world is also the someone you most expect, but least want, to let down. When Raymond Ramirez and David Butler fell in love in Sunset Park, it was the ultimate story of opposites meeting at a point of mutual desire, blue collar meets white bread, flirtatious friendship growing into a forever sort of love.
With flawed characters, a combustive physical and emotional connection, and an author’s skillful sleight of hand, Santino Hassell penned a novel that made us believe these two men from opposite sides of the track were meant to be, come hell or high water. In Interborough, the hell of it is working multiple jobs, trying to earn tenure, owning a house that becomes a burden, and a co-worker of Raymond’s who sets off David’s multitude of insecurities. The flood is drowning under the burden of not knowing how and when to find time to be together, and then evading because confronting only makes matters worse. Especially when alcohol adds fuel to the fire. The problem for Ray and David isn’t in knowing how to say what needs said. The problem is knowing how to listen to the fear and pain and frustration behind the words. And this is what makes these guys so maddening yet endearing, too. Without any sort of mercy for his readers, Hassell shows all of us pie-eyed romantics a thing or two about buying into the fairy tale, that love stories also come with a jagged edge of reality that cuts both ways, and that sometimes the hardest work isn’t the pursuit but the perseverance.
And then, he makes it okay again.
If you love your books full of angsty relationship issues and your gut checks delivered with a healthy dose of real life hurdles, Hassell delivers it all with a skilled hand. Interborough is what happens after the happy beginning for Ray and David. It isn’t always pretty, but life and love never promise to be. The hard part is the fight to hold it together; the pretty part comes in the resolution.
This novel doesn’t pretend to reinvent the wheel; it’s just a story about two people trying to figure stuff out and not lose everything, including each other, in the process. The hallmark of Santino Hassell’s storytelling in this series is the creation of characters that aren’t always easy to like but who are relatable because they’re enduring the ups and downs of co-existing in each other’s space. If you’re looking for plastic people who live perfect lives, let me tell you right here, you’re looking in the wrong place in this series. Interborough serves up two very different men straddling two different upbringings, but with a lot of love and determination on their side, are finding a place in the middle where they get their own happily-ever-after. Loving Ray and David didn’t make this an easier read, but loving them most definitely did make the story that much better.
And the bonus part? That’s getting to see bits and snippets of so many of the other characters from the series, including Mikey and Nunzio. They’re the ones who have it all going on, and the epilogue gives everyone who read and loved Sutphin Boulevard the chapter we were missing at the end of their book.
You can buy Interborough here: