Advance Review by Rafa: Interborough, by Santino Hassell

Please note this book was reviewed prior to the revelation of author’s identity and actions. Please read this statement from Riptide Publishing for more information.

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Interborough, by Santino Hassell
Series: Five Boroughs, Book 4
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: October 24, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


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.


M/M Pairing
Gay Characters
Bisexual Characters
POC (Puerto Rican)
In The Closet (partly)

Note: Not to be read as a standalone.

I have a love-hate relationship with this book. I ended up loving it, but no lie, roughly 90% of it was pure torture. I had no idea the author had that big of a sadistic streak in him, but oh wait, this is the same person who co-wrote In the Company of Shadows (Oh yes, I invoked ICoS). It was the absolute worst seeing two beloved characters go through the wringermeat grinder wood chipper throughout the majority of this book.

If you thought Sunset Park was the least angstiest of the author’s works, Interborough is its antithesis. The book takes a raw and honest look at Ray and David’s relationship struggles. Their honeymoon period is long over and real life has taken over. Frustrations are sky high and even the sexy times (which thankfully remain sizzling hot) are loaded with tension and provide only a brief respite before the next argument breaks out.

To be perfectly frank, there were a bunch of times, even when the tension was at a low simmer, that I wanted to click my heels and go back to the halcyon days of Sunset Park. When the situation escalated and the unthinkable happened, I seriously considered DNFing; I was so frustrated and heartbroken. But who was I kidding – I just opened another box of Kleenex and forged ahead like a good and proper masochist.

Through all this, Ray definitely solidified his place as my second favorite 5B character (my heart belongs to Nunzio forever and ever amen).  I’ve always loved the way Ray becomes this unstoppable force when he gets his head out of his ass and makes up his mind about something. We saw this in Sunset Park, and we see it in Interborough when he goes all out for the man he loves. I only wish he’d sprung into action sooner and saved me and David a whole lot of heartache. This is not at all to say that David was blameless in their relationship woes. His anxiety and paranoia and over-analysis of every single thing definitely exacerbated the situation, but at the same time, a) he wasn’t wrong, and b) it highlighted problems in their relationship that needed to be addressed sooner rather than later.

The ending felt abrupt. They kissed and made up in spectacular fashion (so sue me for the lack of spoiler alert there), but everything just sort of fell perfectly into place in a mad heated rush. I felt a bit cheated because I would’ve liked to have seen some of the pieces fall together, rather than just listen to them discuss it or have it happen off page. But mostly I just wanted bask a bit longer in the afterglow of their hard-fought HEA. In my head, I was already giving the book a less-than-stellar rating for all the trauma I went through for very little reward.  But then I got to the epilogue.

That Epilogue (the capitalization is warranted, trust me) goes a long way to counter the angst, the tears, the Kleenex, the rushed ending, all of it. In fact, That Epilogue could probably reverse climate change and bring world peace – it was that good. Yes, it was sugary sweet but it was the perfect conclusion to such an intense, oftentimes difficult read. The ending was a long time coming and it couldn’t have ended on a happier note for everyone involved.

RayVid fans take note: Interborough was not an easy read, but it was worth it to see them get the HEA they so deserve, and more. Now please go read it so we can form an Interborough support group together.


SH imageSantino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction 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.

Website — Facebook — Twitter — Goodreads — Amazon

You can purchase Interborough at:
Riptide Publishing

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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.


13 thoughts on “Advance Review by Rafa: Interborough, by Santino Hassell

  1. I want to hate-like this review. *sobs* I can’t do this. I’m just not made for this kind of book… Mebbe I can only read the epilogue? You think this will work?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been waiting for this book and now you’re making me think I’ll have to wait until I know I’ll have a free, uninterrupted weekend because if it’s that angsty and I only have my regular half-hour spurts, it’s going to kill me!


  3. I can do tears and banging on walls if the epilogue (oh, I mean Epilogue!) is worth it. 🙂 I love Santino’s work, and I’m really looking forward to continuing the 5B (Five Boroughs) series! I’ve reread the others several times, and I think “Sunset Park” and “First and First” work best when all three books (soon, four) including “Sutphin Boulevard” are read in order. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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