Book Review – First and First (Five Boroughs #3) by Santino Hassell



WOW – this book was unbelievably good!!!



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.



ebook, 244 pages

Published April 18th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press





First and First (Five Boroughs #3) by Santino Hassell has been my very FIRST book by this author. One of my fellow bloggers (I’m so sorry I can’t remember who it was) mentioned this specific book as one of her all time favorite M/M books and since we had almost the exact taste in M/M books I had to give it a try!!!!

And OMG I was so glad I gave this book a go.

Of course starting in the middle of a series is not something I would recommend to anyone, but I didn’t have the feeling as if I missed much. Some couples were mentioned that already had a HEA in a former book, which I will read sooner than later, but overall I didn’t feel like I was missing out.

The interesting fact which I have noticed is that M/M stories written by guys are different than by female author. It’s a slight but noticeable difference. I have the feeling as if male writers, especially gay writers, write a more realistic version of M/M. Especially the aspect of gays being more polyamorous inclined and more interested in open relationships compared to monogamous M/M books by female authors. I have noticed that with Alexis Hall’s writing as well. Both authors have a similar feel and style – actually a much more authentic feel.

I think that was also why reading this book was even more fascinating and captivating than expected.

The author’s writing was intense, emotionally raw, vibrant and very much authentic. His characters were flawed, and struggled with their identity.  I felt gutted at times. Especially Caleb Stone was indescribably fascinating in his insecurities and stoic demeanor. He had so many layers, and how delightful it was to see Oli peel one after another until Caleb showed his truer self.

I thought it was fitting that Caleb didn’t change suddenly into a different person, deep inside he was still the same as before, someone who wanted to love and be loved. He craved ONE person that belonged just to him, ONE person that was happy to be loved by him.

My heart ached for him – TRULY ached!!!

And Oli was the most PERFECT match for Caleb.

I loved how different they were. But together they complimented each other perfectly.

Oli was way more charming and outgoing than Caleb. He loved having fun, was sexually experienced and adventurous but when he met Caleb things were suddenly not as clear anymore.

Caleb, with his corduroys and sweaters, his stoic personality – had NO chance and NO time to put up walls. Oli broke through before he could do anything against it. And how fortunate that was.

I ADORED both of them so much!!!!!!!

I truly adored them – the entire book actually.

I think what I loved the most about this novel was Caleb and Oli. These characters made me fall in love with this story. I would love to read a second book about this couple, they were just too unique and enthralling to be done after just one book.

I was truly enchanted and can’t wait to read his next book, I already signed up for an ARC:D – keep my fingers crossed.

To all of my fellow M/M readers – give Santino Hassell a chance (if you haven’t already :D)


About corina

I’m a blogger, photographer, and unapologetic book addict. I love strong female characters, major jerks, and Happily Ever Afters.

10 thoughts on “Book Review – First and First (Five Boroughs #3) by Santino Hassell

  1. It was ME! LOL And I am so excited to see that you loved this book! I can’t wait to read your review for the rest of the books in this series. Seeing Caleb in Sunset Park is going to be a shock for you.

    I can’t imagine anyone ever overtaking Oli and Caleb as my favorite couple of life!

    GREAT review!

    1. Lol – so glad you found my review!! I remember we had so many books in common.:-) Is Sunset Park before or after First and First?

  2. Wow fantastic review Corina. I only have read one M/M so far because I’m not that much into it but I love the one I’ve read (Wolfsong) and I guess you’re right about gay author writing them differently. Wolfsong is written by TJKlune and he amazed me.

    1. Thank you Sophie! I’m glad you read Wolfsong! It was truly exceptional!!! You couldn’t have chosen better for your one and only M/M book.;-)

  3. I know I’m late commenting on your review, but I love how much you loved the book. SH is my fave M/M author. I’ve never read anything by him that I didn’t love. Welcome to his trademark gritty characters. 🙂

    1. Fabi – you made me smile, and my tbr list is growing as we speak.:D
      I LOVED this book!! I’m still speechless. It’s amazing how much better these books are when written by guys. 😀

  4. Yes. I’ve read his “For Real” and “Pansies”. 5 and 4 stars respectively.

    I’ve also read TJ Klune, Devon McCormick and Cole McCade. Those are off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s others. I grab ’em when I see them. (The books, not the men) 😉

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