First and First by Santino Hassell
Series: Five Boroughs, Book 3
Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Book Release Date: April 18, 2016
Audio Release Date: September 12, 2016
Audio Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reigns, and “alternative lifestyles” are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he’s still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn’t know how… until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.
Oli is everything Caleb isn’t—risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year’s Eve, Caleb is smitten.
As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.
It’s probably not a surprise that I loved reading First and First. I’ve read it a couple of times, partially because I think I am Oli. Shoot… I took the survey and that told me I was Oli. But also because I have a major crush on him and Caleb. They’re just fantastic characters. The book is wonderfully written and the story captivated me in a way that only Santino Hassell can do. But listening to Michael Ferraiuolo read this book to me? Oh yeah.
There’s something about listening to a great narrator take a book I’m already deeply invested in, and have them bring it right off the page and into my head. I’d literally get lost in the story, zone out, and completely miss my bus stop. I’d delay leaving for lunch. I would stop in the middle of doing something, just stand and listen. Mr. Ferraiuolo’s Caleb, when he’s at his most depressed, sad or vulnerable, was so spot-on. His Oli, when he’s mischievous and devilish and so smoking sexy, had me rewinding and listening to some parts multiple times. Oli’s cavalier way is captured really well. And here’s the thing: he made me really pay attention to the little things.
I never had trouble determining which character was speaking. Never lost my place. And I realized that there are some books, this one especially, that I should not listen to in public. Even with earbuds in, I could not help but blush. BLUSH in that one part with that damn machine. Goodness! *fans self*
I highly recommend the audio for First and First. Highly. Because I found the quality of the recording to be very good. The narrator was perfect. And because I found it to be totally freaking fantastic! So go get it. Listen. And let it take you away for a while. You won’t regret it.
Alternatively, Rafa and El reviewed the book here, if you’re interested in that.
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.
To learn more about Santino you can follow him on:
Facebook: theonlysonnyhassell | santinohassellbooks