Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently released M/M romance from Santino Hassell. CONCOURSE is another chapter Five Boroughs series and catches us up woth a beatuiful socialite who doesn’t feel so gorgeous on the inside. I’ve loved Hassell’s contemporary romances, SUNSET PARK, FIRST AND FIRST, and INTERBOROUGH, so I couldn’t wait to jump into this new book.
About the book:
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.
Ashton Townsend, also known as A-Town, is a celebrity of dubious distinction. His family owns a telecom company, but he’s the black sheep known more for his unauthorized sex tape and twitter feed than any of his philanthropy. And that’s okay, Ash supposes. Just because he’s notorious doesn’t mean he can’t help out. Still, Ash knows he’s mostly being used by his hangers on, and expects that’s pretty much all he deserves.
Val is the son of Ash’s former nanny. He’s had a long-standing love for Ash, despite his mixed feelings about Ash and his family. Way back when, Val’s mom sacrificed time with Val and his sister to take care of Ash and his brothers–and that was hard to take. Then, Val was hired by Mr. Townsend on the down-low to help keep Ash out of the tabloids. It was money Val couldn’t turn down–and Val’s still working crap jobs to pay his sister’s college tuition. If he can win a few fights, he will qualify for the Olympic team. Then, he’d have time to do more than work. Being in close proximity to Ash’s life gave Val insight into Ash’s tender nature. Val was ashamed of how few others, including Ash’s own family, really tried to know the tender, loving person Ash was–beneath his glamorous persona. Val has never forgotten. It’s why Val will give up his few hours of sleep to ‘rescue’ Ash from bad situations.
It’s also why Val’s in love with Ash, and now he’s ashamed he ever took money to hang out with Ash, even if he used the money to care for his mom when she was dying. Now he’s not sure what to do. Ash needs his companionship, but the one time they got physical turned bad, fast. Can they build a relationship? Or will A-Town’s circus life upset Val’s training to be an Olympic boxer.
This is a tender romance between long-time friends who are learning how to be lovers. I enjoyed seeing Ash learn he’s worthy of love, even though it was somewhat bittersweet seeing Ash and Val fall for one another. I understood the conflict and why Val held back–both the truth and his love: he didn’t believe he was worthy, either. Expect a good bit of back and forth as Val comes to Ash’s rescue, and Ash learns to stand on his own. They make a good couple eventually, and I liked being in their heads. There are many other characters that interact with both Val and Ash, so now I’m trying to figure out which one might get a book. I’m fairly sure we’ll see one of Val’s toughest opponents find love, soon…. (Fingers crossed!)
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!