THREE 5 Star Reviews for Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs #1) by Santino Hassell #MM #Romance @SantinoHassell


Title: Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Santino Hassell (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: July 31, 2015 – 264 pgs


Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens to teaching in one of the city’s most queer friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.

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Blown away. Just wow!!!!! I have wanted to read this book for a while and just now have. Once I started I could not stop. This book hits so many real life issues and I was just completely blown away with how it all came together.

Mikey is the responsible one in his family. His mother passed away earlier in the year and he is keeping his mothers home together because no one else in the family is responsible enough to do so.

Nunzio is Mikey’s best friend and the one he turns to when his life is falling apart. He is the one Mickey leans on when he needs an escape from his father (who is a drunk and is dying) and his brother (who is a 24 year old child who does not know what responsibility is if it hit him in the head). Nunzio has been in love with Mikey for years and has never told him but all that changes after a crazy night out in July and things will never be the same.

As I said earlier in my review this book speaks of real life issues. I really like how a fiction book can bring some realistic issues to life. Alcoholism is one of the issues that is big in this book. And I love that Santino brought forth this issue and did not make light of it. Santino made sure to not just mention the issue but to go into depth on the issue and the consequences that some people face when it comes to alcoholism. I really have so much respect for Santino for doing that. It is not an issue that most want to write about but Santino did and did it in a respectful way.

I was truly impressed with this book and cannot wait to read book 2 in this series.


This is such a great book and such a fantastic start to a wonderful series. I’m really kicking myself for starting with the second book in the series because this one sets the stage, provides the context and gives readers the backstory for the rest of the series.

Michael and Nunzio are a fascinating couple. Two boys from a rough neighbourhood who have both managed to get through school and qualify as teachers, they have been inseparable best friends for life.

The depth of character development here is brilliant. Clashing with the liberal, urban school environment is Michael’s alcoholic father, his immature brother and a history of shouldering too much responsibility far too young.

Narrated by Michael, I loved watching his passion for his work. As a teacher myself, I found this an unnervingly real and honest story about teaching (although Michael seems to do very little marking). So many teachers burn out while attempting to balancing professional responsibilities and personal demons.

David and Raymond from the second book are here. Having read the series out of order, I was a little shocked by David’s introduction and enjoyed the growth in both characters over the course of this book that paved the way for the second.

This is a darker and more difficult book than later stories in the series. Michael struggles with grief, loss, identity and addictions. This isn’t a traditional romance in many ways, but the relationship between Michael and Nunzio is very moving.

Ultimately, this was a book I didn’t put down until I finished it. Santino Hassell is a brilliant writer and these might just be my favourite of his characters.


This was my first book by Santino Hassell and I am at a loss as to why I haven’t found him before. His writing, character development, emotional flow and story were just so real and amazing. I devoured this story in no time because that is what happens when you are pulled in from the moment you read the first sentence.


Michael and Nunzio have been friends since their childhood days and they know each other inside and out, and that becomes literal from chapter one. So I will say this to get it out of the way….the sex and passion was PHEW!!! HOT!!! Nunzio is a dirty talker that can fires everywhere. I just cannot say enough, especially when you find yourself rereading chapter 1 a few times before moving on…it was just OMG! You really learn so much about these two men that you root for this relationship to happen from the beginning.


These two men are flawed, emotional, and real. I connected to every one of these characters and my heart was everywhere. Yes, there is drama and angst, but it is real-life drama and that breaks my heart. Nunzio was such an endearing man with understanding of loving for life, through sickness and in health. The compassion and passion completely balance out the drama and angst in this story leaving you completely sated by the end.


Mr. Hassell was amazing in his writing to discuss such illnesses that Michael, Nunzio and his family endured. There was no pity party or just get over it moments, as you were there feeling the emotions and living through it all like you were experiencing it if you haven’t in real life. Such brilliant writing, a much recommend read.



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Santino Hassell 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 grumbling on social media and nights writing queer romance.

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.


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Filed under 5 Star, Keri, M/M, New Release, Review, Sarah, Tosha

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