Virtual Tour ~ Concourse by Santino Hassell ~ (Reviews + Giveaway)
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 and Val come from completely different worlds. Ashton is a rich Manhattan socialite. A good-time party boy, while Val is from the Bronx and struggles, working three jobs to support himself, while also helping to put his sister through college. Although they had such completely different upbringings, they were brought together as kids, when Val's mother takes a job as Ashton's nanny. They have each secretly harbored feelings for one another, but have never voiced the depth and seriousness of those feelings. Val has tried to distance himself from Ashton, because it hurts him so badly to see Ashton with other guys, while Ashton tries to garner as much attention from Val as he is willing to give him.
I wasn't sure about either of these characters. Neither seemed very likable at the beginning of the story. I hated Ashton's lifestyle with a passion, yet my heart absolutely broke for him. All he wants is affection and love, something he's never gotten from anyone but Val and Val's family. I felt bad for Val, as well. It was so obvious to me how in love with Ashton he was and how much Ashton's lifestyle hurt him, but Val doesn't understand why he feels the way he does for Ashton, and he also doesn't feel like he's good enough for Ashton. Once he finally gives into his feelings, though, he goes all in. When things finally blow up, my heart absolutely broke for Val. Watching him beg Ashton to believe he really does love him and try to convince him of how sorry he was, tore my heart out of my chest and had me sobbing.
This was an enjoyable read. Although I didn't care for either Val or Ashton at the beginning, by the halfway point of the story, I was completely head over heels in love with them and their story. The chemistry between Val and Ashton was off the charts, with sexual tension that bubbled at the surface until it erupted like a volcano when they finally gave into it. The story is well-written and paced well. Santino drew me in and held me captive until the last sentence. He took me on an emotional rollercoaster, from hurt, sadness, anger and heartbreak to laughter, forgiveness and love. Very recommendable!
*Copy provided to the reviewer by Riptide Publishing via NetGalley for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement.*
I loved Ashton! My heart broke for him so many times for how his family and other people treated him. *cuddles Ashton* He just wanted to be loved, even if he went about it the wrong way. I didn't particularly care for his lifestyle or that he let himself get in trouble just to get attention from his parents, brother and even Val, but he did show a good growth throughout the book, finally taking control of his life. I loved Val, too, but there were times in which I wanted to give him a good shake, LOL. I think he didn't give Ashton enough credit and his hot-cold routine got old fast for me. Val and Ashton had amazing chemistry and when Val wasn't trying to keep Ashton at arm's length, they were sweet and affectionate with each other. Nevermind that Mr. Hassell's sex scenes are hotter than all hell!
I loved seeing Nunzio here and that he was instrumental in the last part of the book and I hated Dylan, Ashton's brother, with a passion.
This was a fantastic opposites-attract read, written in Mr. Hassell's characteristic raw and, gritty style. It was passionate, intense, fast-paced with lovable characters. The one thing that would've made it better for me was for them to have more time as a couple on-page, but other than that it was very enjoyable.
*** Copy provided to the reviewer by Riptide Publishing via NetGalley for my reading pleasure. ***
About the Five Boroughs Universe
New York City—home of soaring skyscrapers, concrete boulevards, and the hopes and dreams of millions. A city where opposites attract and romance is found in unlikely places. From the glittering penthouses of Manhattan to the blue collar neighborhoods of Queens, values get tested, cultures clash, and connections made. Men of diverse backgrounds examine their lives, test their sexual boundaries, and seek success in an unforgiving urban landscape that moves fast and stops for no one. Despite the odds, there’s love to be found in the five boroughs as long as they’re willing to work for it.
Check out the Five Boroughs Universe. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/five-boroughs
About Santino Hassell
Santino 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 twentysomething, 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 LGBT 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.
Connect with Santino:
- Website: www.santinohassell.com
- Blog: santinohassell.com/blog
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/santinohassellbooks
- Twitter: twitter.com/SantinoHassell
- Tumblr: thatdudesantino.tumblr.com/
- Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/santinohassell/
- Instagram: instagram.com/santinohassell
- Google+: plus.google.com/u/0/+SantinoHassell/
- Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/santino_hassell
To celebrate the release of Concourse, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 6, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!