Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-released contemporary M/M romance from Santino Hassell. INTERBOROUGH is the fourth book in the Five Boroughs series and definitely best enjoyed after reading SUNSET PARK. I definitely enjoyed it, and also loved FIRST AND FIRST, the third book in this series.
About the book:
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.
This is the fourth book in a series, and should be read after book 2, SUNSET PARK, if not read in order.
Ray and David have been dating on the down-low for a year. Ray came out as bisexual on Valentine’s Day, but only to close friends and his brother, Michael. David struggles to feel his place at Ray’s side, mostly because the uber-slacker Ray has completely flipped his script and is working two jobs, plus going to college. He wants to be a supervisor, or an inspector, on the docks, so he’s putting in third shift duty as a Longshoreman, in addition to his vapid day job. Most nights David goes to bed alone, after worrying that he and Ray are slipping apart. It doesn’t help that Ray’s new work pal, Trey, seems to want a piece of Ray–and Ray is completely oblivious.
Is David being silly, and suspicious, for no reason? David’s only adult relationship was with Caleb, and he snuck around cheating because Caleb had little-to-no interest in sex. Now, David’s worried that he and Ray are slipping apart, and Ray’s so gorgeous he might be getting it on with any of the many male, or female, admirers he seems to collect. So, David’s a wreck, imagining his worn-out lover might be taking some love on the side. Meanwhile, Ray’s so exhausted, his libido has shrunk considerably. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want David; he does. Lots. But they are ships passing, and both are banking on spending some great quality time on a gay-friendly cruise arranged by Caleb’s new company. Ray has promised he’ll quit his day job, but a bad financial turn causes him to change his mind–and keep that knowledge to himself until they get back from vacation.
It’s a tenuous time, and both David and Ray are frustrated. David is drinking more, and it’s upsetting to Ray–not least because David is obnoxious when drunk. Ray takes it in stride, guilty that he’s neglected his lover so much. He thinks if he just works more, and makes enough money to manage his new expenses for a little longer, he and David can weather the storm. But David wants a true partnership. He’s not happy being ‘just friends’ around any of Ray’s work colleagues–and Trey’s encroachment into their personal time is more than David can handle.
There’s a lot of struggle in this book, and part of it stems from Ray’s naivete. He’s never dated anyone seriously, and David’s experience in coupling hasn’t been stellar. Ray still wants to keep his personal life private, and he doesn’t see how this is a problem for David. There’s also some eye-opening business that David experiences, notably the differences in treatment Ray gets from police due to his Puerto Rican heritage. David knows he loves Ray, and that Ray loves him, but love didn’t keep him from stepping out on Caleb, or from all his other friends’ having problems in their marriages. David looks at Michael and Nunzio–Ray’s brother and lover–sees all he wants in the world: a strong, out relationship that is a partnership. There’s so little of that happening between him and Ray that he’s distraught.
These books, where the couple has been together a while but is hitting a rough patch, are always hard to write, and read. It’s a delicate balance between the conflict and the resolution, because you don’t want one character to be embittered, or seem unsympathetic. I felt like this was well-managed. Ray’s still very clueless about how to be in a relationship, and David’s got a lot of paranoia regarding his own missteps with Caleb. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy, and David fears Ray’s gone apathetic. Ray’s mostly confused, determined to fix all his problems by working harder–which only causes his problems to spiral out of control. It’s hard to get mad at a guy trying so hard, but I could empathize with David, who became more withdrawn and remote, feeling abandoned by the love of his life.
Expect angst and conflict for Ray and David. Expect them to battle, for love and attention. There’s a good amount of love, and that core is solid–if only they can make it work. Spoiler alert: this one ends with a secure HEA. Ray and David finally do the sitting down, talking thing, and they compromise and they build a better love for each other than they had at the start.
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.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!